During the Second World War the use of stimulants was widespread throughout the armed forces to enable them to stay alert and to cope with long combat missions, By the early sixties It should be remembered that amphetamines were not illegal at that time in the United Kingdom, which fitted in perfectly with the ideal of clean living. It is hard to look back from todays perspectives at a different time when the current laws and regulations regarding drug use are in your mind and to understand that the early Mods taking amphetamines, were not doing anything illegal. Sometime around 1960 the amphetamine craze started in London’s West End, and by 1963 it had become nationwide.

Mods used the drugs mainly for stimulation as well as for alertness. They viewed it as a different goal from intoxication or delirium caused by other drugs and alcohol. In fact, during those days, mod style and drug use is completely associated with one another. According to the Mods, cannabis was a substance that would slow a person down the exact opposite to what the youngsters were looking for. In those days Mods generally used amphetamines for extending their leisure time into the early hours of the morning and as a way of bridging the wide gap between their boring and often mundane everyday work lives and the weekend of dancing riding  their scooters and dressing up on their weekends and living life to the full.

There is no doubting that the impact that amphetamines had on Mod culture was as significant as their fish tail parkas, scooters, fine clothing and the drudgery of the working week.

 Following the well-publicised violence between Mods and Rockers in seaside resorts during 1964, newspapers reported on Mods emerging from clubs at 5am with dilated pupils and associating this with the violence that followed. This led to the criminalisation of their use by the government in July 1964.

After a new law came into force, the street price of Purple Hearts went up from 6d to 9d a tablet. It didn’t make a lot of difference.

Purple Hearts (Drinamyl or [Dexamyl in the USA] made by Smith-Kline and French) were a combined amphetamine/barbiturate that was commonly prescribed to women for anxiety and as a dietary aid. In the early to mid-sixties they could be obtained from dealers at nightclubs They weren’t purple and they weren’t heart shaped, but a triangular blue tablet.

Durophet was another Mod favourite made by Riker and was coloured black and hence the name' Black Bombers'.

Unlike my character in my novella “August’64 Extended”, I studied Pharmacy and spent my whole working life in the Pharmaceutical Industry. 

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    • That is a fantastic advert. Its no wonder women got a name as being chatterboxes ha ha

  • Good interesting information there Tony. I wonder when the Purple Hearts, French Blues, and Bombers disappeared. When we were first into the Mod thing they did not exist then. Due to that being the case Mods generally looked to get a hold of slimming pills, which we heard was similar to the above pep pills. Speed was also available but early on it was quite expensive and not many could afford it. I bet there must have been a lot of health issues for Mods back in the 60s if they took the pills as frequently and in the amounts often cited.
    • Hi Chris, Drinamyl  (Purple Hearts was discontinued in the 1970's. In July 1964 the Misuse of Drugs Act  re-scheduled Drinamyl as prescription only, Durophet (Black Bombers) was also discontinued through safety concerns around this time

      Most Mods used drugs at the weekend to 'keep them going' and did not seem to have the same addictive as many of the morphine derivatives do today. Yes many Mods took well over the recommended daily dose of Drinamyl, the major problem was the come-down afterwards and some like Jimmy in Quadrophenia could suffer psychosis which was not a all pleasant.

      Unlike cannabis and LSD, which are now known to be triggers in mental health conditions, the early 1960's Mod generation seemed to have got off lightly.. 

    • Cheers Tony. I always wondered when they actually stopped producing some of those pills that everyone who has been a Mod is so familiar with, even if for some in name only. Good to hear that the repercussions were not so bad, i thought that people who had used such things every weekend over a few years may have had some health issues. I suppose when the comedown started to become too much of a pain people would have moderated or ceased taking them.
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      Something I kept from my days in Pharmacy , an original Drinamyl (Purple Heart tin) and the figure of the Mod I made to give a size comparison. Yes that was a thousand tablet tin of Purple Hearts and no I didn't take them all!!!!!!!

      Don't forget by 1965 many of the original mods had moved on, either because of life style,work ,children, marriage and the need for four wheels for family transportation.and so  the need for stimulants had decreased.

    • That is some bit of social history to have as a keepsake Tony. Are there any left ha ha
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