This film is part of Free

Sam Presents Scramble and Rally

Iconic scooters and loony races at an international rally in the seaside town of Whitley Bay.

Amateur film 1958 11 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


From ‘The Tykes’ Vespa Club in Leeds to riders from Recklinghausen in Germany, dedicated scooter fans from around the world take a spin to Langley Park in Whitley Bay. At this international rally organised by the Lambretta Club of Northumbria, it’s a sign of the pre-feminist times that only women competitors in the obstacle race trials have to peel a potato and cast on 20 stitches of knitting in addition to testing their riding skills.

Stylish and affordable, Enrico Piaggi’s Vespa scooter – nicknamed “wasp” because of its sound and shape – was the sleek, utilitarian icon on which Audrey Hepburn rode in Roman Holiday (1953) and the paparazzi’s chase vehicle of choice in La Dolce Vita (1960). The original design was inspired by the Cushman scooter, which was used in Italy by the US during WWII, handy for both men and women to negotiate difficult terrain. After the war, Vespa clubs popped up throughout Europe, and by 1952, worldwide club membership had surpassed 50,000. In the late 1950s, a few years after this film was made, fashion-conscious Mods adopted Vespa and Lambretta scooters as a symbol of their modernity and anti-conformism.