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cheshire~rose

British Waterways "Uniform" Mid Century

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Does anyone have any photos or information they can share regarding what uniform (if any) BW issued to their workers during the mid century years of around 1950 - 1980? 

 

Would people like Lengthsmen or maintenance workers be issued with boiler suits? bib-and-brace? donkey jackets or jumpers, perhaps embroidered or printed with one of the earlier BW logos or just the words "British Waterways" What about footwear? was that supplied or would it be a case of them wearing whatever was good value from The Army and Navy Stores back in the day? 

 

What about headwear? Flat caps perhaps? I suspect many of these things were down to personal taste and comfort (and the age of the wearer) rather than uniform but I would like to build up an idea of what these guys wore when working. 

 

Can anyone help? 

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Not on the pc at the moment but the series of AudreyEvelynAnn has a picture of Ann on a lock side with a man in waterways uniform. Pre 1950 though.

The CRT archive has the Mitchell's in uniform on a BW trip boat.

There is also somewhere a lock keeper in uniform talking to a young lad.

On the Bedworth Archive there is a picture of Mr. Humphris in a green BW workmans uniform.

If tomorrow will do I'll sort out the pictures.

The film with the Beresford brothers has a maintenance engineer in a boiler suit attending the motor when it broke down.

Edited by Ray T

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4 minutes ago, Ray T said:

Not on the pc at the moment but the series of AudreyEvelynAnn has a picture of Ann on a lock side with a man in waterways uniform.


Of course that would be the war years though, so a long while before BTC or BWB, which is what "Rose's" question is about.

From what I can recall when my late brother Pete was a BW lengthman/lock keeper in the 1970s, no uniform was issued, I think.

I have a feeling I've seen an account that when some of the former boatmen were sent onto the Oxford Canal in the  big freeze of 62/63 to cut back vegetation, they were issued with wellies and (I think) donkey jackets, but had to return them when they went back to their normal duties!

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3 minutes ago, alan_fincher said:


Of course that would be the war years though, so a long while before BTC or BWB, which is what "Rose's" question is

What I stated in the edited version.

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2 hours ago, cheshire~rose said:

Does anyone have any photos or information they can share regarding what uniform (if any) BW issued to their workers during the mid century years of around 1950 - 1980? 

 

Would people like Lengthsmen or maintenance workers be issued with boiler suits? bib-and-brace? donkey jackets or jumpers, perhaps embroidered or printed with one of the earlier BW logos or just the words "British Waterways" What about footwear? was that supplied or would it be a case of them wearing whatever was good value from The Army and Navy Stores back in the day? 

 

What about headwear? Flat caps perhaps? I suspect many of these things were down to personal taste and comfort (and the age of the wearer) rather than uniform but I would like to build up an idea of what these guys wore when working. 

 

Can anyone help? 

I remember that towards the end of the 1970's and into early 80's the bank staff wore blue boiler suits, a colour which I thought was apropriate for a job near and on the water. BW IN THE 1980's, however decided to change the colour to Green!

 

Howard

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Some BW staff certainly wore a uniform during the 1960's.  Whether they were official or just what individuals chose to wear, I do not know, but most trip boat captains wore something like a Navy blue jacket, white trousers and white peaked cap, some of the older lock keepers also wore a similar get up but with dark trousers, as did the Southern GU Towpath Warden, but with a crash helmet instead of a hat, who patrolled the towpath on a small motorbike. In London there were also Waterways Transport Police who wore , not unsurprisingly, Police Uniform.

 

 

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Thank you everyone. This is really helpful indeed. Ray has shared with me a photo of Mike Humphries at Sutton Stop (I am unsure if it is OK to share the photo here but hopefully Ray will be along to let us know soon) 

In the photo it is evident that this was during BW's "Green" period and Mike has green work trousers on with a jacket in what appears to be a different shade of green (possibly not as new as the trousers which may have been replaced more often?) The jacket appears to have the press stud type fastening and be of the same type of "overall" material as the trousers. 

 

I think that prior to this the workwear would be pretty much the same but in blue 

as Howardang suggests. 

 

 

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Click on the picture for full size photo.
 
The tugs are Pipit and Fazeley.

 

Edited by Ray T

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Photo of BW Water Bus "Water Sprite" formerly GUCC "Pisces" Captain wearing full uniform including white peaked cap.  Photo taken late 1950's or early 1960's.

 

624130439_WaterSprite(2).jpg.acfd64c1ec9426b3bf060d5a9c3f9a38.jpg

 

 

Edited by David Schweizer

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Here is Sickle as a BW Maintenance Boat being worked by former Boatman Alf Best in the early 1970s.  Certainly around this era I don't recall any uniforms for this type of work, and Alf's dress is very typical of that kind of worker at that time....

Zen_009_05_A.jpg

Zen_009_004.jpg

 

 

...And Alf Best at the tiller again, with another former boatman Tom Sibley riding shotgun.

Tom Sibley is recorded in his wrking boat days as having been a very smart dresser, and there s an image that shows him in what was taken to be a unifrm, (not dissimilar to that worn by the Water Bus captains), but it seems it was his own creation, not anything officially issued.  I can't find a copy of that picture at the moment.

Zen_008_024_A.jpg

Edited by alan_fincher

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Another BW Waterbus "Water Rambler" same uniform as shown on Water Sprite. IT would appear that my recollection  of white trousers was incorrect, but white cap was correct.

 

132978149_WaterRambler.jpg.c4472b0321ab665684b86a8088d40986.jpg

 

Somewhere I have a photo of Jack James, lock keeper at Stoke Bruerne in the 1960s wearing a similar outfit.

 

 

Edited by David Schweizer

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My recollections of the 70/80s are that any uniformity amongst maintenance staff centred around a folded copy of The Sun stuffed into the back trouser pocket.

  • Greenie 1

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The peaked cap and quasi-navy uniform of the water bus steerers was not of course typical of the uniform worn by lock keepers and maintenance workers.  I remember when the 1981 logo of bridge and reeds came in with the boats painted green rather than blue, the uniform changed from blue to green too.  As I recall it was cotton drill trousers with matching jacket in a blouson style with the logo as a sewn on badge.  Many of the employees, particularly the older ones, hated the uniform and even more so when it went green so seldom wore it.  I believe a friend was also  issued with a Waterways donkey jacket at one time.  However in the past “corporate image” was considered less important than it is today.

 

Paul

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In this one the chap using the capstan is wearing a hard peaked cap. but others are in suits, overalls or everyday cloths

 

  • Greenie 1

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More recently but still in BW days the ground workers were issued with sweat shirts, trousers and I think polo shirts. Different region's had different colours and Jim Stirling who at that time was the CEO in Scotland nabbed navy blue for his workers. I gather that some areas of down south were a bit jealous 😉. I actually still have a few BW Scotland sweat shirts which I used to wear when boating down south. 

No, I never worked for BW 😊

haggis 

  • Greenie 1

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When the Waterways Trust ran the Rochdale Canal the local chap on the ground wore a crisp white shirt ironed within an inch of its life, a black tie, an army-style ribbed pullover in black complete with epaulets, black trousers with razor sharp creases and black boots polished so you could see your face in them. No idea if it was an official uniform, but I assume he was ex military.

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Apart from the prestigious passenger boats, any 'uniform' from around the 1950's was cloth cap or trilby, workaday trousers and waistcoat or pullover - and not company issue. Much the same as a great many workmen wore. What hard peaked hats were worn might more often have been by men who had been in the services, and if they didn't have something left over from ther service career, might well have got something from an Army surplus store as it gave a sense of authority in their position - this might apply to lock keepers more than boatmen. My Dad was never a boatman, but in civvy street he often chose to wear his ex-army black beret if the weather was a bit inclement.

 

Couple of chaps on the buses stood out from the rest during the seventies (both long service men), an Inspector whose trouser crease you could shave with, and a Conductor five foot 'not much' likewise - the "Star of India" - Roy Flanders, always known as 'Poppy' for obvious reasons. Served in India, and full of tales of derring do from his days out there.

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20 hours ago, alan_fincher said:

Here is Sickle as a BW Maintenance Boat being worked by former Boatman Alf Best in the early 1970s.  Certainly around this era I don't recall any uniforms for this type of work, and Alf's dress is very typical of that kind of worker at that time....

Zen_009_05_A.jpg

Zen_009_004.jpg

...And Alf Best at the tiller again, with another former boatman Tom Sibley riding shotgun.

 

 

Thanks for that Alan. Tank tops were a popular thing in that era and the rolled up shirt sleeves :) 

20 hours ago, David Schweizer said:

Another BW Waterbus "Water Rambler" same uniform as shown on Water Sprite. IT would appear that my recollection  of white trousers was incorrect, but white cap was correct.

 

132978149_WaterRambler.jpg.c4472b0321ab665684b86a8088d40986.jpg

 

Somewhere I have a photo of Jack James, lock keeper at Stoke Bruerne in the 1960s wearing a similar outfit.

 

 

Wow - how smart does he look! 

 

This is causing me a little bit of a conundrum 

19 hours ago, archie57 said:

I have a donkey jacket with "BTW" on the back...…..

Oooh! 

 

I covet that - is it for hire?

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