The Auckland Saints Motorcycle Club was formed in 1958 after the tough Auckland resident REBELS M/C club
(1949 - 1957) was finally broken up by the cops.
The AUCKLAND REBELS - the original New Zealand "Milk Bar Cowboys" or "Currie Boys"
The REBELS comprised a number of disenchanted returned Korean War heroes/veterans, plus a few 1939/45 WWII era Returned Servicemen Heroes.
Their main gathering point was the Majestic Movie Theatre (aka "The Mag") at 246 Queen Street, Auckland, where they could display their noisy single-banger and twin 'bikes to the fearful public, and the choice of 'hang-out' was Curries Milkbar, Lower Queen Street, which earned them their alternative names "Currie Boys" or "Milk Bar Cowboys".
On one memorable Friday Night one of 'The Boys' - Mack the Knife - rode his 1955 Triumph Thunderbird right into Curries - and as startled patrons jumper aside, ordered a milkshake from the startled shop girl!
What a hoot! Unfortunately the venue was closed down by the Police in 1956 after a violent Friday Night 'Boy - Girl' confrontation ended in a shotgun shooting which resulted in the death of a young woman shop staffer.
Around that time, a memorable 'Rumble' erupted between an unofficial joint venture of the New Zealand Army & Navy combined forces who invaded Queen Street in their hundreds to 'clean up' the incumbent 'Teddy Boys', 'Rockers', 'Bodgies & Widgies' - and of course the 'Curry Boys' - the like of which had never been seen before (or hopefully, again!).
Battalions of Police were called in from all over the North Island in an attempt to control the uncontrolled brawling mass of teenagers and slightly older military boys. Many were arrested (none of whom were the Armed Forces, of course) and after 24 hours Queen Street returned to it's normal state of only brawls between the 'gangs'.
Click the picture (below) which was taken about that time ... anyone look familar?
are one, or remember any of these guys click the link next to the RED ARROW and lek me know?
The Rebels Patch is re-created from my - dubious - memory, but it really was 'something like that! - perhaps a few more colours as I remember 'red' and 'pale blue' somwhere. Anybody got an original?
At the height of the REBELS club's membership, as many as 50 motorcycles would be lined up in Queen Street - mostly pre 1950's 500cc single cylinder AJS and Matchless big bore boomers. The noise when they took off in a group was unbelievable! As a young teenager, I was greatly impressed, and couldn't wait until I reached 15 years old and could get a motorbike license!
The average NZ Police footsoldier was less restricted and had more discretionary power than todays' and were not adverse to actively (and physically) breaking up the groups who were considered anti-social and undesirable. And - of course - noisy! They had a really neat "Patch" - a "Grim Reaper" (Including skull and hoodie) with a scythe - and was painted on their leather "Bomber jackets" in full color! Really cool for the 1950's!
THE AUCKLAND SAINTS
The resulting"bike gang vacuum" in Queen Street left by the police sweeping out of the REBELS meant that a few other diverse Auckland motorcycle enthusiasts (including me) got together to form a new rider's group which we named the "Saints" - meaning we were the "good guys" (as opposed to the REBELS) as hardly any of the new group of remaining 'bikies had criminal convictions for violence or theft.
There were a few "hard guys" left that we looked up to (and feared) in the remaining group - names like Eric La R***** and Maori Fulla "Johnny The Shirt" spring to mind! Johnny's nickname was earned by his propensity to "get his shirt off" at the first sign of trouble - and quickly "take care of business". Johnny & I were great mates for many years, and he used to ride pillion with me at times there were things to do and places to go.
The new group the 'Saints' attracted members of existing bikie groups predominantley:
"The Town Boys" from Andy's Milkbar at number 12 Great North Road, Ponsonby - on the right just after the K Road/Ponsonby Road intersection going west,
The "Newmarket Boys" from a milkbar at the lower end of Khyber Pass Road, the ...
"Epsom Boys", who hung out at an Epsom Milk Bar on Manukau Road just past the Greenlane West intersection. (This block of shops and Movie Theatre was removed in the 1970's to widen Greenlane Road), and finally a couple of smaller groups from "Out West" and "Onehunga High Street".
One of these (I recall Stuart Mc something - perhaps McDonald?) was killed one Friday night trying to break the downhillspeed record from Grey Street to Church Street when a VW Van pulled out of Arthur Street into his path! He and his 'Matchy; (Matchless) 600 twin went comletely through the side of the VW - ending up some distance down the road. Unsurvivable accident(?) of course.
A few "out-of-towners" regularly used to visit on Fridays and Saturday nights - I particularly recall "Dowsen's Diesel" - Brian's 1950 Triumph 500 Speed Twin of dubious parentage which smoked like a diesel engine. Brian Dowsen was from Kaiwaka up North and a really great guy who loved tinkering with mechanical things - including a home he made Hot Rod from an old '37 Riley sports car! He took us for a 'ride' in it once when we visited his farm .... 60 mph around winding gravel northlands farm roads! Holy Crap!
The Epsom Boys hangout often included a number of boys from the Onehunga area, (Eric Ford - BSA Gold Flash and Murray Coulter - AJS 500 and the two Saunders brothers (Clarry and ?) from Greenlane - AJS & Matchless 500 & 650 twins are a few other names I recall) and the sprit of comradeship of these guys was such that they often visited each other's hangouts to smoke cigarettes and bullshit about their exploits on their motocycles, which made the formation of the Auckland Saints a logical progression for them.
Mostly, the average Saints member teamed up with three or four buddies for rides to the West Coast beaches, through the Waitakere Ranges 'Scenic Srive', or down to Whangamata, Waihi or Rotorua for a long weekend.
Favourite sleeping spots around Auckland included the pine-needle covered ground amongst the Pine trees at "One Tree Hill" (we called it One E), and Music Point out along the eastern suburb beachtops.
1958 Photo: "Epsom Boy" William Nixon (Billy) Pollock on his 1957 650 cc BSA "Golden Flash" or "Goldie" as we called them.
Billy was b. 1941 and d. 2010 at age 69.
His life included NZ Army service and overseas posting to the Malaya conflict
Generally the only time we all rode together as a complete group of all 'associates' was to attend funerals - a fairly common occurrance. After Johnny was killed (November 6th 1958) in a 75 mile-per-hour crash on the then-new North Western Motorway.
His funeral & cremation at Waikumete Hill Cemetary, was attended by more than 40 bikes and 10 black pre-war Ford V8's. What a parade! We Ruled that day! "Johnny" Evans was just eighteen years old. (Click the picture for a larger view)
Johnny was riding a bit in front of 'Marshy' and me - about 20 yards or so. A front tyre blowout at 75 mph on a slight left curve dropped him on the recently opened "North-Western Motorway" divided highway (no center barrier in those days) and he and his Triumph Thunderbird skidded across the grass median strip right into the path of an on-coming car.
He was collected 'head on' by a '56 Ford Zephyr coming in the opposite dection.
We hit the brakes. We saw the whole thing. Marshy & I stopped and backtracked the several hundred yards it took to find his body on the side of the road. He was a mess. Marshy was a big tough guy - but he threw up when we tried to lift Jimmy up and his body came apart in pieces.
Being dragged so far under the Zephyr, it seemed all his bones were broken. His lower leg bones were protruding right through the leather of his riding boots. Funnily enough - his 1952 Triumph Thinderbird was virtually unscratched and would have been rideable - except for the flat front tyre.
Johnny had asked my advice the previous weekend on the wisdom of "re-grooving" the front tyre to deepen the tread to the depth to pass the required Transport Department "Warrant of Fitness" or WOF as we called it. I warned him of the danger of regrooving tyres - especially the front tyre - but it was common practise in those days as we were all too poor to buy new tyres for our bikes!
Riding to and from the funeral service from Andy's Milkbar with 50 other bikes and cars was an awe-inspring experience, and gave me a hint of the potential power that an organised motorcycle gang could wield over the citizenry of the country. This was the early years of the more extreme motorcycle gangs, the Mongrel Mob, Black Power, Highway 66 just to name a few.
Here another photo of Johnny - with Saints mate 'Shorty' and one other unidentified Saints member.
Anyone know who he is?
I had a coffee with Shorty and his lovely wife in Manukau Mall this year (2014) and had a great hour or so recalling the events of sixty odd years earlier.
Be nice to find a few more of 'The Boys' before it's too late, as we are all in our mid-to-late 70's now.
Those were pre P, Speed and Weed days!
(Weed and Heroin was the current Jazz Groups dope) We mainly drank port wine and beer (sometimes mixed!) - and smoked plenty of cigarettes.
Being drunk on a motorcycle was not a great idea, especially after losing a few members in terrible crashes, so the majority of drinking was AFTER riding, not before!
The Saints were predominantly a good bunch of guys, who didn't get into much trouble with the Police, and for the most part were just ordinary kids from ordinary - if disfunctional - families.
Siphoning a little gas after running out was probably their most henious crime. We didn't do drugs, but speeding tickets were a fact of life. I managed 28 between '58 and '61! No demerit points in those days, thank goodness! By 1961 we all "grew up" and started getting serious about life .... and the club gradually faded away.
1960 The HELLS ANGELS
The "Saints" era was immediately before the rise of what the cops called the Outlaw Gangs - in fact I was present at the Khyber Pass (Newmarket) hangout when the very first two HELLS ANGELS boys came over from Sydney Australia with two brand new 1960 Triumph Bonnevilles - the most beautiful motorcycle I had ever seen! The boys put on a real show - long wheelies up and down the street outside the milkbar - doing things the older low power 'bikes we had would have been almost impossible to do. It was all very impressive to say the least!
I understand that in 1961 the Aussies boys established a chapter of the Angles here in Auckland, and it's still active today - more than fifty years later, but (like most of the 'bike gangs in New Zealand) they keep a low profile, and I understand that the HELLS ANGELS group have maintained a world-wide faction of motorcycle club members to this day.
1960 to 1980 and beyond ....
In the following two decades, many more New Zealand motorcycle-related groups emerged, some not just 'bike enthusiasts, however.
Most of the new groups used motorcycles as transport and this made their presence very obvious to the public, as wearing the "Patch" became their Badge of Honour.
The largest group still in existence (according to Wikipedia in 2014) is the Highway 61 group, but others include the Mongrel Mob, Nomads, King Cobras, Tribesmen, Head Hunters and Road Knights - and there are quite a few more smaller groups around New Zealand.
Almost exclusively these groups ride the Harley-Davidson motorcycle, in keeping with their US based clubs - which seemed to originate after publicity of a so-called riot at a well-used motocycle raceway and off-road park in Hollister California in the late 1940's.
The publicity brought motorcycle 'outlaws' - as they were named by the local Sherri - into the spotlight and probably created the entire "1%R - One Percenter" craze that is now found in every Western country. (Only 1% of the population ride motocycles, apparently)
Hollywood made a movied loosely based on the 1947 Hollister event, (the WILD ONE - starring a young Marlon Brando) and this movie (actually banned by Censorship in New Zealand until the 1990's) immediately captured the interest of the (as usual in every generation) disenchanted youth of America - and the world followed!
You can download The Wild One from Amazon.com for under $US10.00 - but all looks a bit tame to our 21st century perspectives, sorry to say! Here's a You Tube clip: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwB_Mrnwr_8
Triumph's 1960 Bonnevilles are still very collectible today - in mint condition selling for up to $US25,000 in America. They were the start of the British Motorcycle horsepower race, and introduced a new era in sporting motorcycles that was eventually taken over by Japanese imports, forcing the demise of the UK industry.