Note - Police, fire brigade and Ambulance uniforms are considered separately in Appendix One - Emergency Services. The Post Office and Telephone Company liveries are discussed in Appendix One - Postal, Telegraph and Telephone Services. Prior to 1917 the British forces all wore distinctive uniforms that indicated their unit, the 'dress' uniform was worn when 'walking out' (ie on the street). After the war the uniform had been standardised as khaki, the unit being indicated by badges, the full dress uniforms were thereafter only worn for ceremonial duties such as guarding Buckingham Palace.
From about the 1850's to the 1970's there were many uniforms to be seen on the streets, being issued with a uniform meant you did not need to buy working clothing and for many the uniform formed an important part of their wage. Uniforms were issued and not easy for criminals to come by so a chap in a uniform turning up at your door was almost certainly a legitimate official. As well as uniforms per se there were also a number of trades and professions which had a traditional style of dress, effectively an unofficial uniform, these are discussed separately under Shopkeepers and Street Traders.
To help the unemployed former soldiers after the Crimean War the Corps of Commissionaires was formed in 1859 by Captain Sir Edward Walter, K.C.B. (1823-1904). In the later 1870s the Corps extended its operations outside London and by 1900 there were about 3,000 comissionaires in service (membership peaked at over 5,000 in the later 1930s). The Corps, with its distinctive dark military style uniform, is the oldest security agency in the UK and membership was reserved for former soldiers until 1969 when police, navy and air force personnel and former members of the coast guard were allowed to join. A women's brance was set up in 1974 and up until the mid 1990s the Corps also offered a recruitment service for other security agencies. A Commissionaire might be seen outside any more up-market establishment anywhere in the country (most top line hotels had one on the door), they also provide security for industry, notably at establishments working on defence related projects. The chap(s) in the gate house of a large factory was likely to be a uniformed Commissionaire. By the 1990s the dress uniform was supplimented by hi-vis yellow jackets and most staff for a standard business suit when providing security for 'corporate' customers , the Commissionaire uniform is most frequently used these days by staff providing high-profile security for corporate events and special occasions.
Bus and tram companies had inspectors who might be seen waiting at a stop, these men wore the dark uniform of the company, usually with a gabardine raincoat over the top (even in summer as I remember it), in my neck of the woods the raincoat was dark navy blue to match the uniform. Buses and trams had a crew of two, the driver (often separated from the passengers in his own compartment) and the conductor (who's job it was to sell tickets). Most companies opted for a dark blue uniform, up to about 1920 most men seem to have been issued with a small brimless hat with a leather peak at the front and a tunic that buttoned up to the neck (sensible enough in cold weather). In the 1920s there was apparently a shift to a flat military style cap and a jacket with lapels. Some companies issued a fawn, very occasionally light grey, jacket for their conductors (I never saw a driver wearing one) made of a light cotton material for summer duty. Bus drivers sometimes took off their jacket in warm weather and often did not wear their uniform cap when driving but the conductors usually wore them. Female conductors appeared during the First World War, they initially had a distinctive uniform but the jacket changed to match the male conductors in the 1920s. Women conductors often wore trousers as part of their uniform from the mid 1930s. Conductors had two belts over their shoulders, crossing front and rear, to carry their dark brown leather change pouch and a metal plate on which they clipped their silver and grey ticket machine. Both the driver and conductor had two enameled badges, worn on the left breast. One (often white with a red or green rim) bearing their official number in black and another indicating that they were licensed to perform the job. The conductor often attached the two badges to the strap of his change bag. In the mid 1960's on buses where the driver was sitting inside the main passenger compartment the conductor was replaced by the 'teller box', a perspex box into which the passenger dropped his fare, the driver then issuing the ticket. In practice no one ever had the right change and eventually they were dispensed with, being replaced by a change tray on the driver partition.
The sketch below shows a selection of typical bus crew uniforms, the chap on the right is a tram driver circa 1910, the lady on the left is sketched from a photo dated about 1919, this style of uniform remained in use into the mid to late 1920s. Note the small size of her ticket machine and the large size of her enamel badge. The next chap is a typical male conductor, this uniform was in use from the later 1920s through to the 1970s, he has two much smaller badges on his lapel (some had only one) and a larger ticket machine, I believe these machines came in in the mid 1930s. The bus driver has a double breasted uniform jacket (different companies had different ideas on this) and only a single lapel badge, again based on a photograph, this one taken in the 1950s. The inspectors usually wore an overcoat (most people wore an overcoat most of the time up until the 1960s) and he has a note book and pen in this breast pocket. In the depot or at a site with several bus stops inspectors were often seen with a clip board, checking the buses were on time.
Fig___ Bus and tram company employees
Up to the 1980's many services were provided by the local council or 'corporation', these services included buses (operating alongside the commercial bus companies and filling in on routes which were not profitable) and the supplies of water, electricity and gas. Most towns had a 'Gas Board', a group made up of appointed officials and local businessmen who served as the senior management. The 'gas board' had meter readers who visited every house, those I remember always seemed to be wearing long light green coats but their uniform caps were a dark green colour. They carried a thick brown leather meter reading book which always seemed to have a lot of scraps of paper sticking out of it. A lot of towns had an electricity board as well, and these also employed meter readers but those I remember wore a dark uniform, similar to those of the bus drivers. The local 'water board' were responsible both for water supplies and also drainage and sewerage, all of which utilised pipes laid under the ground. Water was not metered however so there were very few water board officials on the streets and non (as far as I am aware) wore a uniform.
Fig___ Gas board meter reader
Meter readers dressed like this were common in Manchester in the 1950s, the uniform may well date back to the 1920s and it remained in use until the 1980s but for some reason they were less often seen walking the streets.
Local Doctors and Nursing services.
Prior to the formation of the National Health Service in 1948 there were various medical services within the community, most of which had to be paid for. In the towns many doctors had a 'doctors man' who went round collecting (in the 1930s) 6d a week which covered the whole family if someone fell ill. In areas where there was a close community, such as in the mining towns of Wales people set up co-operatives (called 'medical aid societies' in the Welsh Valleys). In some cases the fees were deducted from the wages and in the mid 19th Century often only the wage earner was covered but the cover included not only a doctor attending but also nursing care and medicines. By 1900 these societies were normally providing cover for the families as well, so over 90 percent of the population was covered by such services. Doctors suing for unpaid bills were less common under this system however the British Medical Association regarded these organisations with distrust, partly as they kept doctors wages down, and railed against their members being overseen by a committee of lay people.
Most care was actually provided by nurses visiting people at home, although the Poor Law allowed workhouses to provide both hospitals and some nursing care at home for people on poor relief (what is now called benefits). Prior to the 1850s nurses were largely uneducated women who offered a service which often did as much harm as good. During the Crimean War Florence Nightingale established the basic structure for modern nursing whilst treating injured soldiers. This made her famous and she was awarded £50,000 which she used to establish a school of nursing (attached to St Thomas's Hospital in London). There was some resistance to the idea of properly trained nurses, not least from within the medical profession itself, however her methods worked and in 1902 a woman in New Zealand called Ellen Dougherty became the worlds first registered Nurse. In the UK the 1919 Nurses Registration Act gave formal recognition to qualified nurses and from 1943 anyone practicing as a nurse to have a formal qualification issued by one of the nursing schools.
In 1878 Phillipa Flowerday (aged 32) became the first industrial nurse when she was hired by J &J Coleman of Norwich to care for the health of the employees at their mustard factory. She was a trained nurse with hospital experience and her new duties included assisting the company doctor during his morning surgeries and taking food from the works canteen to the sick at home.
In 1887 the Queens Nursing Institute was founded, to train nurses to provide care at home for those who could not afford a professional nurse. Queens nurses were not employed directly, but were affiliated, trained, and inspected by the Institute. In 1897 ‘County Nursing Associations were introduced, which co-ordinated smaller rural associations and employed qualified midwives with an elementary training in home nursing. This service formed the basis for the later District Nurse service. The early district nurses were employed by local voluntary district nursing associations which were funded by subscriptions, either from individuals or organisations such as trade unions and co-operative societies.
In 1928, the National Birthday Trust was founded to promote maternal and infant welfare, this was mainly concerned with home visits by 'district nurses'. Following a study by this trust on the needs of district nurses the Public Health Act of 1936 extended the power of local authorities to cover not only midwives, attending people with infectious diseases and some support for rural health visits to providing direct support for the district nursing associations. The nursing associations were by this time headed by a Queens Nurse with administration being the responsibility of the County Medical officer of Health and the Superintendent of the County Nursing Association (usually a Queens Nurse). Under the National health Service the district nurse became a part of the free service provided by the local health authority.
The district nurse on her rounds allows you to add something unusual to a scene, these nurses wore the same uniform as the hospital nurses. Nurses uniform was fairly standardised by 1900, a light cotton dress with a white apron and (usually) white cuffs (which could be washed separately). Prior to about 1910 most of the aprons had wide bands passing over the shoulder and crossing across the back. In cold weather the nurse would have a cape for use outside, usually blue and often with a red lining, some hospitals had their crest embroidered on the left breast of the cape. The headgear varied quite a lot, each hospital often favouring its own style, however these were usually white and often quite large prior to the 1940s as women tended to favour long hair (the hat was designed to wrap over the hair). The St Johns Ambulance and the British Red Cross Society had their own nurses, these wore the standard uniform but with a cross on the bib of the apron (and outlined Maltese cross for St Johns, a plain red cross for the Red cross). If someone required any home nursing (few could afford the hospital) there were various organisations such as the Queen's Nurses who wore a navy blue dress with white collar and cuffs with a navy blue coat and a small round hat with a narrow brim. When attending to wounds and the like she would pull on waterproof 'sleeves' that reached above the elbow, these were white and lined with oilskin. The illustration below shows a St Johns nurse from about 1915, the cap tied under the chin was retained by matrons into the 1950s. The lady in the overcoat is a Queens nurse from about 1930, next to her is a British Red Cross nurse in the standard world war two uniform. On the right are a matron and a West Indian nurse with her outdoor cape from the immediate post war period, the cape had two red tapes, crossed as shown and fastened in the small of the back. The pendant watch hanging on a small strap attached by a pin to the top of the apron, used for taking a patients pulse as well as for general timekeeping, seems to have been a post war development. I am not sure when the cotton apron went but by the early 1980s staff nurses wore a plain sky blue dress with matching belt and the ward sister wore a navy blue dress again with matching belt.
Fig___ Nurses uniforms
From the middle ages the wealthy had employed women to look after their children, these were called by various names including nurse, governess and nanny. By the time the railways came the Nanny was a feature of most British cities, often seen taking the children for walks in the park. No formal qualifications are, or ever have been, required to be a nanny, however prospective employers would require references and would seek a nanny with suitable experience. Women taking this work were in the main unmarried and lived in the same home as their charges. There was no formal uniform for a nanny but the colleges training nannys often had a uniform they allowed their graduates to wear. As an example the Norland College (based in Hungerford, Berkshire, founded in 1892) had a uniform comprising a distinctive brown overcoat, hat and beige dress which remained standard until the later 1990s. Many nannys had trained as nurses and from the 1880s to the later 1930s often wore the distinctive nurses cape, and sometimes the white nurses hat, when out with the children.
Fig ___ Nannies
Small children were transported in a 'baby carriage' or 'perambulator' (a term which actually covers any hand cart), commonly called 'prams'. The Victorians used prams with large wheels, the two main types were a wicker body with a leather hood and a light wooden body with a waterproof cloth hood, one common hybrid used a wooden frame with wicker side panels to save weight and cost.
Fig___ Typical Victorian prams, 1880 to 1920
After the First World War there was a change to a much smaller wheel size, often with a deeper body to the pram. Following the second world war the large wheeled type came back into fashion, although the wicker body was not used.
Fig___ Typical prams 1915-1955 and 1940-1970
In the mid 1960s an engineer by the name of Owen Mclaren developed the ultra lightweight folding 'baby buggy' (he had worked on aircraft during World War two and had designed the complex folding undercarriage of the Halifax bomber, which bears a surprising similarity to the little buggy). This was developed into a modern form of a 'bassinette' (the French for 'small basin' this was a small wicker 'baby basket', usually fitted with a hood. The new version came with a light, usually folding, metal pram frame so it did not need to be carried.
Fig___ Baby buggy and folding carry-cot
In the 1990s the original 'baby buggy' was developed into a rather more sturdy three wheeler 'all terrain' vehicle with a rather more padded and comfortable seat.
Salvation Army During the later 19th century a preacher called William Booth was running an organisation called The Christian Mission with his sister Kathryn. They were working with the poor in the East End of London (in his later life Mr Booth is on record as saying that as socialism was unworkable he had become a Christian). In 1878 they changed the name to The Salvation Army, the military was a widely admired at the time and Booth adopted a number of military terms, church halls became corps and giving in the offering was called "firing a cartridge". By 1880 the organisation had a standard uniform, not surprisingly the uniform adopted owed a lot to the military dress of the day. Booth was impressed by the Quakers and demanded a plain uniform, the men wore a high neck military style single breasted tunic with a stiff collar carrying the letter S in silver. This was worn over a scarlet jersey and with a military style cap carrying a red band bearing the words The Salvation Army in gold. The jacket and trousers were quickly adopted but the head gear took longer, with some groups using pith helmets, top hats and even sailors hats as late as 1891.
Women wore a dark blue skirt with a close fitting tunic over a white blouse and adopted a black bonnet bearing the red hat band and secured with a large silk ribbon tied in a bow under the chin. The size of the bonnet was reduced over the years and by the end of the twentieth century a cheaper 'bowler style' hat (similar to that worn by police women) was increasingly seen.
I believe it was in the 1960s that the high necked tunic was replaced by a more relaxed suit type jacket for both men and women. The troops have to purchase their own uniform and in the early days that represented about three weeks average salary, these days the cost has fallen to about the equivalent of one weeks (average) salary. Wearing of uniform is optional for 'soldiers' but 'officers' must wear it at all times when on duty.
In the sketch below the couple on the left are wearing the early uniform, this would serve for layout into the later 1920s.
Fig___ Salvation Army Uniforms
The Salvation Army provides charitable support for the poor and needy whilst seeking to promote Christianity as a faith, small groups of 'soldiers' would regularly be seen in the streets singing Christian songs and collecting money and souls. The instruments used varied from full blown brass bands to a hired barrel organ and in the photographs I have seen there are usually a few folk standing to listen. By the 1930s it was becoming increasingly difficult to set up in the roads due to the increase in traffic so they would often be found in small parks or side streets in the poor areas of a town. Individual soldiers (usually the women) would tour the pubs selling their newspaper (called The War Cry), they carried the papers in one arm and a small collecting tin on a string over the other.
Motoring Associations The Automobile Club of Great Britain was formed in 1897, a year after the first such association was formed in France. It became the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) in 1907 when it was patronised by the King. The Automobile Association (AA) was set up in 1905, intended mainly to fight the 20 mph speed limit then in force for all motor vehicles. Both organisations maintained uniformed bicycle patrols to assist their members from the early years of the twentieth century. The AA patrolmen wore khaki uniforms, the RAC adopted dark blue, both similar in style to the bus drivers uniform. In about 1920 both organisations began operating motorcycle patrols equipped with a tool-box sidecar but the cycle patrols continued into the mid 1920s I believe. Motorists belonging to such organisations were issued with metal badges, more or less round and typically about three inches in diameter, to mount on the front of their vehicle. Up to the 1960's motor cars has a separate metal 'bumper' mounted front and rear, membership of motoring clubs was popular amongst the wealthy and expensive cars often had four or five such badges on the front bumper. The bumpers caused a lot of injuries and offered little protection to the car, they were outlawed on new cars by health and safety legislation in the 1970s.
Fig___ Motoring association badges
The AA and RAC patrols were expected to salute if they saw the badge, even when driving themselves. They used a number of motorcycle designs over the years, early machines tended to have a fairly small rectangular petrol tank, by the later 1930s the petrol tank was larger and more bulbous in shape. I believe that early machines were painted black with a yellow (AA) or blue (RAC) tank as appropriate, only the sidecar being in full livery. Post world war two there seems to have been a shift to painting the entire bike either yellow or blue. From the mid 1930s until the later 1950s a common choice for this kind of work was the Norton 16, a heavy 600cc machine with a slow revving 'long stroke' single cylinder engine (often described as 'one thump every second lamppost'). Never designed or intended to be anything other than a workhorse there was no need to change the design, I believe production of the type ceased in 1955 but doubtless quite a few soldiered on for several years after that. The motor cycle patrolmen wore a uniform similar to the army cavalry officers uniform of the time, a flat uniform cap, goggles, large gauntlet gloves and knee high riding boots. The jacket was a military style, similar to those worn by the Army in the First World War and the trousers were 'jodhpurs', with baggy bits around the thigh (as favoured by German army officers in the second world war). In bad weather the patrol men wore a long leather overcoat that reached almost to the ankles, these had loops inside to secure them to the lower leg and prevent them blowing about in the wind.
Fig___ Motoring association motorcycle patrol men
I had a lot of trouble finding illustrations of AA and RAC patrols good enough to attempt a sketch, the best resource I have so far found is a web site of a model making company. The web site of Autocraft Models includes a number of photographs of motorcycles from various periods in history. I am not an expert but the models seem to fit with the other illustrations I have found of these motorcycle combinations. One point to note is that the sidecar with the pointed front on the AA machine is only about eighteen inches wide (based on a front end view found at Maybole.Org). The patrolmen operated under an area inspector who might have a bike without a sidecar (although I gather a lot of inspectors functioned as patrolmen, especially in rural areas).
In about 1950 the AA purchased a landrover series 1 machine for patrol work, this was I believe the first car type patrol vehicle used by either of the motoring organisations. The motorcycle combinations continued in use throughout the 1960s I believe, meanwhile a range of vans were being trialed by the AA and RAC, including landrovers (for mountain areas) and at least one Reliant van (used by the AA in the early 1970s). By the later 1970s the motorcycle patrols had all been replaced by standard small vans of the period but less than a decade later motorcycle patrols (without the side car) were reintroduced for built up areas liable to congestion. I believe by this time radios were fitted in all patrol vehicles but I am not sure when these were introduced. By the mid 1970s the AA patrol men operating in the vans were wearing a beret in place of the peaked cap and a NATO style woolen pullover with reinforced elbows and shoulders in place of the jacket.
Fig___ Motoring association vehicles
The AA seems to have had a more prominent profile on the roads, the RAC engages in a lot of less
visible work, all the motor sport activity in the UK is regulated and monitored by the RAC. The AA and RAC also operated a network of 'telephone boxes' (called 'sentry boxes' as they were intended as shelters for patrolmen), these are discussed under Background Information - Post and Telephone Systems. RAC patrol vans went orange a few years ago and are now much more conspicuous on the roads and motorway hard shoulders.
Note for details of the AA and RAC roadside telephone boxes see under Postal, Telegraph and Telephone Services.
School uniform was a feature of life from the early Victorian era up to the 1970s (and currently seems to be enjoying something of a revival). Poor children were not expected to wear an expensive uniform but by the 1930s most children had the basic uniform. The fee paying schools, almost all of which were single sex, often retained the same uniform for many years and the 'Eaton Suit' consisting of a just-below-the-waist length 'bumfreezer' jacket and a shirt with a wide white collar worn with long trousers and a top hat was adopted by several boys schools (I believe Eaton was the last school to retain this uniform, which lasted into the mid 1960s). Top hats were worn on Sundays at many schools, the Eaton boys wore them all week.
Following the 1880 Education Act local authorities had to provide schools and teachers for all children between the ages of five and ten. The 'state' schools did not initially have a uniform as such, most children would not have been able to afford one, but the Victorian fee paying schools had established a fairly standard school uniform, based on the fashions of the day, which was adopted as the model for school uniforms for the next hundred years or so.
For boys the norm was a dark blue blazer jacket with the school badge on the breast pocket, short trousers in blue or grey, grey socks, white shirt, school tie and school cap. The school cap was of a type in common use by adults in Victorian times, essentially a domed top with a stiff peak at the front, they became popular as school caps in the 1860s and remained a standard for the next hundred years. In the later 1880s some schools (notably Harrow) adopted the new 'boater' style straw hat but by the 1940s I believe only Harrow retained this design (I could be wrong on that).The Victorians often had a tassel in the centre of the top and this remained a feature of some (usually fee paying) school caps into the 1970s. The caps were often brightly coloured (in the school colours of course) and not all schools used the blue blazer, green and red were common alternatives. Most schools had a long sleeved woolen V neck pullover as part of the uniform, often with the school colours woven into the V. By the 1960s hats were out of fashion and the boys school cap was normally worn folded up in the blazer pocket (except in cold weather, it was actually a rather practical bit of head gear). Long trousers were allowed for 'seniors' (although shorts were typically worn until the age of 14 or even 15 in the early 1960's) but the age at which long trousers were allowed crept downwards in the later 1960s and early 1970s at which time the school uniform became an increasingly rare sight (other than for the junior schools and of course the fee paying schools).
In the mid 19th century girls attending school tended not to wear a uniform as such, although children's dress was rather standardised in the Victorian culture. In the 1870s they even wore the fashionable 'bustle' under their skirts. Fee paying schools always had a uniform however and in the mid 1920s the most common design was a dark dress reaching to below the knee with a lighter coloured 'pinafore' over the top. By about 1920 this had evolved into a single garment (called a pinafore dress) and became something of a national standard. From the 1920s to the 1960s the most common school uniform was a Victorian style pleated dark blue pinafore dress worn over a white blouse with white socks and a round domed hat with a turned up brim. The dress was pleated almost from the top (a hint of the 'empire line' adult dress of the early nineteenth century in the design) and a cloth sash was worn to prevent it blowing about. Girls who had earned a place in a school sports team wore a strip of coloured cloth in place of or tied to their sash with the ends hanging on their left hand side. Up to the 1930s girls wore above-the-knee stockings but from the mid 30s white socks (cotton in summer, wool in winter) became the norm. This uniform remained fairly standard at fee paying schools into the 1970s although there was a shift to the older girls wearing a skirt and blouse in the 1950s when many girls schools adopted a 'glengary' style hat (as worn by the glamorous airline stewardesses of the day). Senior girls wore either a blazer style jacket or a woolen cardigan.
In the early 1930s state schools only had uniform for senior students (those over 11 years old). Schools usually divided the pupils into 'houses', each having its own house colours which were commonly incorporated into the uniform in some way. Girls schools often wore a coloured sash, at one state school in the later 1930s the basic uniform was a white blouse with a navy blue gym slip type skirt with black stockings (worn with suspenders) but the girls knitted their own cardigans, navy blue with two bands of the house colours at the hem and cuffs (in this example the houses and colours were Romans - red, Trojans - green, Spartans - yellow, and Greeks - blue). Those who could afford it had a navy blue overcoat for wet or cold weather. The nearby high school had brown uniforms with gold stipes and brown felt hat with gold and brown stripes.
In cold or wet weather the standard school overcoat from the later 1920s through to the 1960s was the navy blue double breasted gabardine raincoat. They were sometimes called a mackintosh or 'mac' but technically a mac has a waterproof lining (the original used cloth impregnated with an early form of rubber as a lining) however the school mac was a much lighter (and more comfortable) affair.
Fig___ School Uniforms
A standard bit of kit for both older boys and girls (other than those attending boarding schools) was the bag used to carry your books. These came in when children started taking their work to and from school in the 1930s and prior to the 1950s this only applied to the 'seniors' (11 year olds and up, education for the over 13s only became free and compulsory with Butlers 1944 Education Act). Most kids just had a 'pump bag', a simple cloth bag with a draw string intended for carrying 'pumps' (rubber soled canvass shoes used for sports). Prior to the 1950s most children did not get homework and the bag normally carried only their exercise book and perhaps a pencil case, it was occasionally carried on school outings however.
By the 1930s a purpose designed sturdy brown leather bag called a satchel had appeared, although this was expensive and only used by wealthier children prior to the 1950s (when they became very common). There were two types, one had two loops and was worn as a back pack, the other had a single long loop and was worn on the shoulder (although there were various ways this could be carried, when riding a bike the best option was to sling the strap round the back of the neck then under each arm so the satchel sat in the small of the back). Boys generally favoured the back pack type and girls the shoulder type.
Some children used a 'brief case', similar to a satchel but with a hand loop on top instead of the shoulder straps. These were always leather,mainly brown but occasionally black, and they were usually the preserve of 'seniors'. They were less convenient than the satchels as you needed a hand to carry one and as with the satchel you had to rummage about to find your pencil case in the bottom. In the 1940s and 1950s young men attending technical colleges often opted for a small suitcase, which could be accessed much more easily, and the idea caught on. By the mid 1970s the standard 'briefcase' was a suitcase type bag with hinged lid and the older style became increasingly rare.
In the 1960s the 'airline bag' became popular as an alternative to the satchel, this was a plastic or lightweight cloth bag with the logo of the airline emblazoned on it. These zip-top bags held more than the standard satchel and at the time air travel was expensive and hence 'exclusive' so was seen as glamorous rather than tedious. This fad lasted into the 1970s when it was replaced by the 'sports bag', basically a plastic holdall with the name of a sporting goods manufacturer on the side. These were even larger than the airline bag but many had no shoulder strap making them awkward to carry. The only one of these I remember was a mid grey bag with the word PUMA on the side. By the later 1980s the sports bag fad was in decline and rucksacks were fashionable, by the mid 1990s this evolved into a single strap rucksack called an 'urban bag'. This had a wide strap which passed from one corner of the bag, over the shoulder, across the chest and round under the opposite arm to the bottom lower corner of the bag. Usually there was a pocket for the mobile telephone added to the strap. These in turn were replaced in about 2003 by hikers 'day sacks', by this time these had padding on the back and some featured air tubes to prevent sweating. Fashion had become increasingly important to children and this dictated that these be worn with the straps loose and the body of the bag hanging down at the back. Predictably this fad caused a series of back injuries and guidelines had to be issued by the Outdoor Industries Association explaining how they should be worn.
Fig___ School Bags
Domestic Science was a wide ranging life skills course covering cooking and nutrition, sewing,ironing and hygiene (or cleaning, much easier if you know all the tricks). Some schools provided first aid training and some all girls schools even went into baby and child care, but cooking and sewing were the core subjects. Domestic Science was mainly the preserve of girls (boys got woodwork and metalwork instead), although some of the more enlightened mixed sex schools allowed boys to take the course. Most young men only learned these skills if they went into an all male preserve such as soldiers, sailors and lighthouse keepers (I learned how to darn (repair a hole in) a sock from my father who had been in the army). On domestic science days the girls would be carrying a shopping bag (usually woven basketwork) and often a 'cake tin' (a round tin about a foot in diameter and about ten inches high), used for carrying food home. A domestic science room (they were usually called a 'lab' by the mid 1960s) has to be big and requires a lot of capital investment (cookers, washing machines, irons, tailors dummies etc). The equipment required maintenance and consumed a fair bit of electricity so in the 1980's the government decided to cut back on teaching domestic science to save money. I believe a simplified version has since been re-introduced as an optional subject called something like Personal and Social Education but I am unsure as to the details and it is many years since I saw children carrying the cake tins.
School Crossing Attendants By the 1930's the number of children being run down on the roads was a matter of public concern. In Bath a woman called Mrs Hunt was employed by the council as the first crossing attendant in 1937. London adopted the idea on a trial basis in the 1940s and the 1953 School Crossing Patrols Act formalised the arrangement. From 1953 local authorities began employing 'school crossing patrol attendants' or 'lollipop' men and women to help get children across the road safely as they went to and from school. These men and women were kitted out with an official black uniform hat, a white coat with a black rear collar and armed with a large circular sign on a black and white striped stick. The original sign was a red disc bearing the words 'stop children crossing'. By the early 1970s the centre of the sign was white with the words STOP CHILDREN in black and the rim was red. They operated from about eight o'clock until 9 o'clock in the morning and again from about three o'clock until about four or five o'clock in the afternoon.
In the later 1980s or early 1990s the coat changed to yellow with retro reflective strips and the sign now has a yellow centre and a picture in place of the word children. When standing by the road the sign is held upside down, when the sign is held up traffic should stop to allow the attendant to walk into the road, where they stand with the sign up and one arm outstretched. This pose is handy as it explains why the traffic on your layout is not moving.
Fig___ Crossing Attendants
In 2005 there are over 30,000 Patrols are operating throughout the UK and since 2001 they have been empowered to stop traffic to allow adults to cross the road as well (useful where elderly people need to cross a busy road).
The Victorians developed the idea of an official 'childhood' and worried a great deal about adverse influences on young minds. The first major youth organisation to appear was the Young Men's Christian Association, founded in London in 1844 by one George Williams, who was only 23 years old at the time. This organisation proved extremely popular and its success encouraged others.
In 1883 Lieutenant William Alexander Smith, a businessman, a volunteer Sunday School teacher and an officer in the Lanarkshire Volunteer Rifle Regiment formed the first Boys' Brigade in Glasgow. At first the boys wore a rosette to indicate their membership, but a uniform was soon devised. The uniform consisted of a small number of items worn with normal clothing, the idea being that even poor children would be able to participate. A full uniform like the Scouts was not adopted until the 1960s. Boys joined in their thousands, creating a national movement in a very short time, Smith received a knighthood in recognition of his work. Normally operating from church halls, they offered military style drill and training with drum and bugle bands. Initially the uniform consisted of a pill-box hat, belt, drum sash and leather gaiters. The belts and drum sash could be white or black, everyone in a unit would have the same but it would seem different units opted for different colours. One common addition was a 'haversack' (actually these were usually white pouches worn on the belt). Several groups adopted the 'puttee's' used by the army, these are strips of cloth wound round the lower legs, they (and their name) came from India where they were worn to protect the baggy trousers worn in the region. The BBs were noted wearing them right into the 1930s. Shortly after the First World War the BBs switched to wearing the Glengarry-style campaign caps. The Boys' Brigade uniform is generally blue Glengarry caps, blue shirt, and blue pants, shorts were common up to the 1950s but long trousers are now the norm (at least in the UK). The Boys Brigades remain active today in larger towns and cities and they still feature the drum and bugle bands, some have units have pipe bands, reflecting the Scottish origins of the organization, although these bands are normally only seen on the street on Sundays on their way to 'church parade'.
Walter Mallock Gee founded the Church Lads' Brigade on November 11th, 1891, at St Andrew's Church, Fulham, derived from but separate from the existing Boys Brigade. Initially they adopted the blue uniform of the Boys Brigade but they adopted the wide brimmed hat of the Boy Scouts with one side looped up in the manner of the Australian and New Zealand armed forces. The basic colour changed to khaki in 1913 and this organisation was more likely to be seen operating in the country than the BBs. Since the 1940s the CLBs seem to have contracted, I don't know of a single group in my area, but they were once a force to be reckoned with (during the First World War they formed two battalions of infantry and earned a staggering 22 Victoria Cross medals).
There was soon a demand for a similar organisation for girls and the modern Girls Brigade is the result, however this organisation only came into being in 1967 following the merger of several precursor groups. The first to appear was the Girls Brigade in Ireland, founded in 1893 (motto Onward and Upward), this was followed by the Girls Guidery in Scotland founded in 1900 (motto: Wise unto that which is good) and the Girls Life Brigade in England founded in 1902 (motto To Save Life). All were church centred groups featuring a core of religious education but also offering drill (marching), keep-fit and occasional forays into the countryside.
Fig___ Girls Life Brigade on Church Parade (Sunday Mornings) about 1945
These were all merged to form the modern Girls Brigade catering for girls between the ages of five and eighteen and which functions in over 53 countries. The modern GB (motto Seek, serve and follow Christ) has a standard uniform consisting of a polo shirt (red for the under eights and white for the others) and a navy blue sweatshirt. As with the Boys Brigade the earlier uniforms were deliberately simple so that even the poorest could attend, uniforms were usually only worn when attending church (often only on one Sunday in the month) and when participating in parades and marches such as walking the boundary of the parish behind the Boys Brigade band. In the 1920s and 1930s a typical uniform would include a Forage or Gengarry cap, red belt and white gauntlet gloves. The remainder of the uniform would be a dark blue skirt, white blouse and (for some) a blue jacket.
Fig___ Boys Brigade and Girls Brigade uniforms
In 1908 Baaden Powel (Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, OM, GCMG, GCVO, KCB (February 22, 1857 - January 8, 1941), a soldier who made a name for himself in the defence of Maffeking), founded the Boy Scouts. He felt that the Boys Brigades were not offering enough of a challenge to youngsters and wanted to see them out in the countryside getting fit and healthy. He had written military manuals on reconnaissance and had trained up teenaged boys to act as army scouts during the siege of Maffeking. He heard that schools were using his military books and set about re-writing them as a single work for youngsters. This appeared in 1908 as 'Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship'. With the support of Sir William Smith (of the Boys brigades) Baden-Powell then founded the Boy Scouts as an active organisation with the motto 'Be Prepared' for lads between the ages of 11 to 18. Within a year the organisation had about 100,000 members in the UK alone. 'Scouting for Boys' was the fourth best selling book of the 20th Century (after the Bible, the Koran and Mao's Little Red Book) although from the 1960s on it was not regarded as an up to date manual. Rudyard Kipling was a supporter of the movement and wrote several books with Scouts in mind (notably the Jungle Book which forms the basis for many aspects of the Wolf Cubs (see below)).
Scouts were formed into Patrol's of six boys, one being elected as Patrol Leader (who would then select another to be his 2ic, sometimes referred to as a corporal). A number of patrols would form a Troop with an adult officer in charge called a Scout Master. Over the following years the demand grew and in 1914 the Junior Scouts was set up to cater for the 8 to 11 year olds, the name changed to Wolf Cubs in 1916. Cubs do go on camping trips but they are more closely supervised than the Scouts. In the early 1960s an even more junior movement was formed called beavers for the 6 to 8 year olds, in the early 1980s they became integrated into the Scout movement and in 1986, official badges, uniform and promise were given to Beaver Colonies by The Scout Association. As far as I am aware the Beavers do not either hike or camp.
One key requirement of a Scout was that he had to do at least one good deed every day, an American visiting London got lost in the fog and was guided home by a young boy who refused payment, explaining that this was his good deed for the day. The American gent was duly impressed and on his return home he set up the Boy Scouts of America. Scouts were expected to own various items of personal equipment (a knife, whistle and compass if nothing else), the scout uniform was rather more elaborate than the Boys Brigade kit and cost a lot more. The full uniform consisted of a khaki shirt and shorts with khaki knee length socks and (preferably) black shoes or boots. The Scots often wore a kilt but the rest of the uniform was the same. Up to the early 1950s most scouts considered themselves not fully dressed if they did not have with them a stout wooden pole, typically five feet long. These are very useful when making your way over rough ground and allow you to cross streams by pole-vaulting to avoid getting your feet wet, but even in the towns a scout was usually seen with his stick. Each scout troop has its own colour scarf (mine was yellow with a black border) and scouts collected badges to be sewn onto their shirts as they passed various tests and completed various training courses.
A variant on the Scout was the Sea Scout, distinguished by wearing dark blue shorts, a blue pullover with SEA SCOUTS on the front and a naval ratings circular hat, again with sea scouts written on the front. There were also air scouts however I never ran into any of them so cannot comment on their uniform.
In the mid 1950s the old style hat was replaced by a green beret, in the later 50's or possibly the early 1960s the shirt became short sleeved and the shorts generally became shorter. In the mid 1960s a new scout uniform was introduced consisting of a green shirt with long sleeves and fawn trousers, the beret and neck scarf were retained.
Girl Guides were formed in 1910 by Baden-Powell with the assistance of his sister Agnes (this was after a number of girls turned up at the first scout Jamboree (meeting) at Crystal Palace and calling themselves Girl Scouts, a name they still use in the USA). The Girl Guides were named after the famous Corps of Guides in India, Baden-Powell thought that to call them Scouts might alienate the boys, not to mention the girls' parents!. Baden Powell then married and his wife, Olave Baden-Powell, took a leading role in the development of Girl Guiding (and Girl Scouting in the USA). Lady Olave Baden-Powell, became Chief Guide of England in 1918, and World Chief Guide in 1930. Guides wore a dark blue skirt with a lighter blue blouse and a coloured neckerchief indicating their group, the length of the skirt followed the trends in fashion. As with the scouts coloured cloth badges were awarded to those who completed certain tasks and these were sewn onto the sleeve of the blouse. In the early years the Guides wore a circular wide brimmed hat similar to the scouts but with a domed top rather than the 'lemon squeezer' shape of the scout hat, but by the 1940's they had switched to a Glengarry style cap.
Fig___ Boy Scout and Girl Guide uniforms
The Scouts and Boys Brigades and the Guides and Girls Brigades have remained separate organisations, each having their own emphasis, but they have maintained friendly relations.
In about 1950 Scout troops began a regular fund raising operation at Easter called 'Bob a job week', the bob in question being the shilling coin, equivalent to 5p in our new 'economy money'. The basic idea was that they would tour the area offering to do just about any odd job for a shilling, leaving a yellow card for the client to put in the window so they would not be repeatedly bothered. The generous would give them a simple task, the mean would give them quite an arduous one. The Scouts up to the 1950s often had a two-wheeled wooden hand cart (used for carrying the tents and equipment when camping) and some troops would take this with them on their rounds during the week. Bob a job is I believe now called 'Scouts job week'.
The scouts and guides go camping a lot, although not together, hence of a layout set in the country you might reasonably expect to see a team of scouts or guides with their tents. Uniform was worn on these expeditions, although in cold weather a woollen pullover might be added and I believe the Guides wore blue shorts when camping. The tents they favoured were the old style military types, either a rectangular 'ridge tent' the sides of which were rolled up during the day (there was no sewn in ground sheet) or a single pole circular tent (often the preserve of the adults in charge). Guide camps had a single latrine (a hole in the ground with a hessian screen round it), the scouts had a 'dry bog' and a 'wet bog' the latter being a trench filled with stones and again protected by a screen of hessian on wooden poles. Up to the 1950's scouts often used hand carts (called trek carts) to carry their gear, as far as I am aware the Guides did not use these (but I could be wrong on that). This could be quickly stripped down (at least the wheels could be easily removed) to allow it to be carried in a truck or on a train. By the late 1960's light weight tents were available and they had switched to using rucksacks.
Fig___ Scout or Guide Camp
People out hiking had been a fairly common sight in Britain since the 1880s and over the years a number of hiking or 'rambling' associations had been formed. The heavy tents of the time meant that camping was a bit of a major exercise so most walkers were out for the day or staying in hotels and bed and breakfast establishments often with only a small rucksack and a stout walking stick or scout-like walking pole. The clothing worn for these outdoor activities (other than the 'day in the country' variety) qualify as a uniform in the present context.
Prior to the 1960s most people wore standard clothing when hiking, although hard wearing materials such as tweed were favoured. The early attempts at climbing Mount Everest saw people in heavy tweed jackets and trousers with horse riding boots reaching altitudes as high as 22,000 feet (which must have been a pretty uncomfortable experience). By the 1930s the more serious types, or people wandering about on mountains, often wore an 'anorak' or 'cagoul' (Hillary and Tensing wore these to the top of Everest in 1953). This was a wind proof smock with attached hood and usually a large pocket on the chest made of (typically) Egyptian cotton (which swells and becomes semi-waterproof when wet). Draw-strings at the hood, wrists, waist and hem allowed you to close it up in the cold. All those I remember were a light fawn colour, often with a lighter (almost yellow) inner lining. In the later 1960s man made fibres became increasingly favoured for outdoor clothing, by the early 1970s the standard cagoul was a waterproof smock, made to the same design as the older cotton type (although usually with no draw string at the waist) and available in a range of colours including dark blue and 'dayglo orange'. Neither type will keep you warm, both simply prevent wind chill and reduce the water reaching the skin. To keep warm you need wool or fur underneath the shell garment, or their modern equivalents.
The Parka (another Eskimo derived garment)is (technically) a padded jacket which fastens up the front. During the Korean War the padded quilted jackets of the Koreans were found to be rather good cold weather gear however these did not catch on in the UK until the 1960s when a long (non quilted) version appeared and was adopted by young men riding motor scooters. One feature was a fringe of fur round the edge of the hood, similar in colour but usually slightly darker than the fawn of the coat, the original Eskimo coat was fur lined, this fringe made the commercial version look like an Eskimo coat but served no practical purpose. By the 1970s quilted jackets of nylon were increasingly worn by hikers and ramblers, some had an attached hood (often with the Parka style fur fringe) in the 1980s a sleeveless version gained in popularity. By the later 1970s the quilting on these jackets was quite noticeable, resulting in the term 'hand grenade coats'. These were suitable only for day ramblers as they made wearing a rucksack difficult and they were so warm that (other than in the mountains in winter) they were too warm for serious hiking in the UK. Somewhere along the way the word Anorak became associated with these zip-up jackets although the original Eskimo word referred to the over-the-head style described above.
The Army began using camouflage patterned battle dress in the later 1950s, by the later 1960s the camouflaged army jackets were starting to appear in Army and Navy shops and hence were worn by farmers and hikers. In the early 1970s the traditional triangular 'bergen' rucksacks made of cotton twill and the fawn coloured 'over the head' cagoules began to be replaced by the oblong type of rucksack and cagoules made from nylon and other man made materials. In the later 1970s brightly coloured zip-fronted jackets made of Gortex (a waterproof cloth that 'breathes') replaced the smock style anorak.
Tents were originally rather military in appearance, made of grey or khaki cotton with wooden poles they were rather heavy. The growth in private motor transport (including motorbikes) in the 1950s saw more people trying camping and in the 1960s lightweight nylon tents started to appear, allowing more people to hike and camp. By the mid 1960s tents were more often brightly coloured, common colours being Oxford blue and green. Ripstop Nylon appeared (I think) in the 1970s, this is a tightly woven fabric that has a double weave with a very tight thread pattern and a second weave that adds a tight "grid" into the weave. As a tent fabric it is well suited to the more arduous conditions encountered in the mountains. The traditional pole tents were supplemented and increasingly replaced by the 'flexible arch' tents from the 1970s, by the 1990s traditional ridge tents were quite rare and cotton tents had virtually disappeared.
By the late 1960s motoring to a camp site for a holiday in the country was increasingly favored by families and much larger tents were in vogue for this kind of camping. By the 1970s all sorts of folding furniture was available and bottled gas cookers were on the market that included an oven, naturally battery operated TV's were soon available and by the mid 1970s 'camping' for many was only distinguishable from suburban living by the uneven floors and the need to trail across the grass to the toilet block.
In 1930 a group of hiking, cycling and youth organisations got together and set up the Youth Hostels Association, providing basic accommodation and cooking facilities for their members. The land owners and farmers had long resisted any laws allowing people to hike in the countryside and in 1932 there was an organised 'mass ramble' on Kinder Scout in Derbyshire. The vague nature of the law meant that the ramblers associations opposed the move and the game keepers felt this was a trespass and attacked the ramblers, several of whom were then arrested and six sent to gaol. The upshot was a formal change in the law with the passing of the Rights of Way Act, clarifying the law and protecting the public footpaths in the country (it was 1958 before the public footpaths were included on the Ordinance Survey maps). In 1935 the various local ramblers clubs merged to form the Ramblers Association. The increasing interest in Keep Fit coupled with the availability of accommodation at minimal cost thanks to the YHA saw a large increase in the numbers of people out and about in the country with back packs from the later 1930s. They remained a common sight through to the 1970s although by the end of the 1970s the average distance walked from their car by visitors to the lake district was said to be roughly six feet.
In 1949 the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act establishes National Parks in England and Wales (the first in the Peak District in 1951). This Act provided for the creation of long distance paths such as the Pennine Way, access agreements to specific areas of open country (notably Kinder Scout) and the surveying and recording of all footpaths onto a definitive map. Somewhere in the Act was a requirement for the production of an official 'Country Code' giving hikers and cyclists guidelines on how to behave, for example a reminder to always close a farm gate behind you.
If your layout is set in the country it would be quite reasonable to expect groups of people in hiking gear to be waiting on the platforms. Scouts would have unloaded their kit bags and removed the wheels of their hand cart ready to be loaded into the guards compartment of the train.