Quadrophenia | 1979
The Who’s album is used as a framework for teen angst and a recreation of the early Sixties weekend battles between supersharp Mods and leatherclad Rockers.
The Who hailed originally from Shepherd’s Bush in west London, and this is where most of the London scenes are set. Fiercely Mod Jimmy (Phil Daniels) rides his scooter along Goldhawk Road to meet Steph (Leslie Ash) at Ashken’s supermarket, which once stood between Bamborough Gardens and Woodger Road.
On the other side of the road, another Quadrophenia location gone too. Forget fish and chips, the real old London tradition, now hard to find, is pie and mash – beef pie, mashed potato and parsley liquor. If you’re brave, and you can find them, you could try eels, too.
The pie and mash shop where Jimmy and greaser pal Kevin (Ray Winstone) eat after meeting up in the bath-house was Cooke’s, 48 Goldhawk Road, alongside the entrance to Shepherd’s Bush Market. There’s been a pie and mash establishment here since 1891, and was Cooke’s since 1934. Unbelievably, this irreplaceable institution has been allowed to close down.
This narrow, bustling alley of Shepherd’s Bush Market, running alongside the railway between Goldhawk Road Station and Shepherd’s Bush Station, is the benighted passage along which Kevin is chased from Goldhawk Road tube station and beaten up by Mods.
Jimmy’s home was north of Shepherd’s Bush, at 75 Wells House Road, backing onto the railway line between Willesden Junction and Acton Central, near Old Oak Common.
Northwest of London, in Wembley, 54 Clarendon Gardens at Castleton Avenue is the house on ‘Kitchener Road’ where Jimmy and the Mods crash the party
The Rockers attack Spider after his scooter breaks down outside the Bramley Arms, Notting Hill, a pub seen in movies such as classic Ealing comedy The Lavender Hill Mob, with Alec Guinness, the Harold Pinter reverse-timescale drama Betrayal, John Boorman’s offbeat Leo the Last and Alex Cox’s Sid And Nancy. Opposite the Bramley is the scrapyard where Pete works.
During the Seventies, much of the area was squatted and, in a gesture inspired by Ealing’s Passport to Pimlico, seceded from the UK. When threatened with eviction, residents appealed to the UN. The Quadrophenia film crew needed to get ‘passports’ for the ‘Kingdom of Frestonia’ in order to film there.
The capital hangout of the Mods is an art deco gem a few minutes north of Angel tube station in Islington, north London. Dating from the 1920s, the cafe (which also appeared in 1997’s Fifties-set music biz drama Mojo) was originally Alfredo’s. Sadly it closed down several years ago, only to reopen for several years as the S&M Cafe (calm down, that’s ‘sausage and mash’). Fortunately, the distinctive premises, panelled with very Twenties-style vitrolite (opaque white glass), is Grade II listed which means that most of the original features have been retained.
It lives on now as Meat People, 4-6 Essex Road, N1 (is it just me or does that sound more Soylent Green than Quadrophenia) though the name refers to the restaurant’s speciality cuts of meat, sourced from around the world – which have apparently included kangaroo, springbok and even zebra.
Another north London location has not been so lucky. North of Highgate, on North Hill, N6, stands the Wellington Service Station. This unremarkable little garage stands on the site of the old Wellington pub, which was the boozer in which Jimmy and his Mod pals buy dud pills from the hard men.
Back to West London. It’s while using the, now closed, public baths of Porchester Hall, Porchester Centre, Queensway, that old pals Jimmy and Kevin meet up, only to realise that they’ve fallen on opposite sides of the Mod-Rocker divide when they come to get dressed. The complex also contains a Turkish bath which is still functioning.
Incidentally, the baths were originally intended to be the setting for the vicious knife fight in David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises – though practical problems meant that the scene was eventually shot on a studio set.
At weekends, the rival tribes fled south from London to the Coast Mods on their scooters, Rockers on motorbikes. In the faded seaside town of Brighton, the rival gangs congregate by the Brighton Pier (formerly Palace Pier), in front of the now-closed Heart and Hand – then one of Brighton’s most famous gay bars. The marquee of the cinema next door is advertising Heaven Can Wait – the Warren Beatty movie released in (whoops) 1978.
East along the seafront, the Mods meet for breakfast at the Waterfront Cafe at the Peter Pan Play Area, Madeira Drive. Opposite the pier entrance you can see the exterior of the ballroom in which the Mods enjoy a raucous evening, is now the Brighton Sealife Centre.
So if you're going to Brighton to check out the interior, you're in for a disappointment. The dance hall, where Jimmy upstages Ace (Sting) by leaping from the balcony, is in Southgate, north London. It used to be the Royalty Ballroom, bit is now The LA Fitness, Winchmore Hill Road, at the end of Dennis Parade opposite Southgate tube station.
Back in Brighton, the riot spreads from the seafront into the town. Just across Old Steine is East Street, where the rioters get hemmed in by the law and Jimmy finally manages a quickie with Steph in the narrow alley by number 11, leading to Little East Street.
Back in London, in the streets north of Uxbridge Road, Shepherd’s Bush, is the Wormholt Estate where, on Gravesend Road at Sawley Road, Jimmy’s scooter gets “killed” in a collision with a post office van.
With his beloved scooter is trashed, Jimmy catches the train to Brighton from Paddington Station – though no trains run to the south coast from here (Brighton trains leave from Victoria).
The hotel, where Jimmy is ultimately disillusioned by the sight of Ace working as a bellboy is, of course, the five-star Grand Hotel, King’s Road, dominating the town’s seafront.
The spectacular white cliffs, from which Jimmy ultimately takes a dive on Ace’s jazzed-up scooter, are almost twenty miles east of Brighton, at Beachy Head, southwest of Eastbourne.