Entertainment and Hobbies in the 1950s

The Vespa Rally

In the 1950s, as cars and motorbikes became less expensive more people took to the roads and started driving for pleasure. People also began setting up motoring clubs, in particular motorcycle and scooter clubs, which held meetings and organised events. 

Vespa mopeds and scooters made by Piaggio, an Italian manufacturer, became very popular in the 1950s and 1960s. They were particularly popular with a group of people called 'mods', who dressed smartly and followed Italian and American fashions. 

In 1959 there was a Vespa moped rally in Leeds, with riders travelling there from as far away as Southend. This short film clip from the Yorkshire Film Archive shows enthusiasts attending the rally.


Activity: 'Imagine you were there'

Students from St Bart's Primary School in Armley watched the film 'Vespa Rally' and then responded to it, imagining that they were at the rally. This is what they thought they could...


What would you see?
People riding brightly coloured scooters and wearing different clothes/uniform and hats.Flags, fields, trees and tents.


What would you hear?
The motorbike engines and people talking and cheering.


What would you smell? 

Exhaust fumes and petrol, flowers and grass.


What would you taste?

 Smoke from the bikes and eggs.


What would you feel? 

Gripping the handlebars and bumps from the road.


Writing a response:

The children were then asked to use the information they had gleaned from the video to write a newspaper article about the Vespa Rally. Here are two responses from St Bart's pupils:


'Today the Vespa Rally started.  They all raced well but the one who stood out was the winner, we've managed to got an interview with George Jones. "Well I never expected to win that's for sure it was one of the most important days of my life and it was very exciting and all my family were there cheering for me and I loved every second of it. My mum was very proud, my father always wished of winning that race and I'm so happy so bye" and that's what he said he had a wonderful race.'


'Today is a Vespa Rally day and it is a really good day for playing on motorbikes or scooters. You can bet your lives that it is that fun and good or great. There is a lot of races in the Vespa Rally, there is all sorts like races on a bike and races like egg and spoon. The day was even nicer because it was sunny. They are wearing a helmet.  There is people cheering and talking about it.  They go really really slow when you play on a motor bike.'

View other My Learning resources on life in the 1950s  or see the teachers' notes page

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Document icon Learning article provided by: Armley Mills Museum, Leeds Museums and Galleries | 
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