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When Everyone Wore A Hat...

Johnfromstaffs

Johnfromstaffs
The picture of the waterworks staff seems to be at odds with the received wisdom (well, received by me anyway) that the bowler hat was reserved for the foreman or under manager and the workman wore a flat cap, or even a paper hat in the 1800s, like the carpenter in the Walrus and the Carpenter iirc. A lot of the old railway company works pictures will show this convention, there usually being lots of flat caps but only one or two gents in bowlers, usually also wearing watches and chains, the thicker the chain the more exalted the man.

No hats these days? If you’re looking for me, in the summer I would be the one in the floppy cricket hat, in the winter a ratting cap or cheesecutter, or a deerstalker. The reason? No hair.
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
Plenty of hats in the pic below but I suppose the band had to wear them. A 'hat-study' of the pic shows the bandsman on the left had a different hat and badge ... :)
A band is playing in Victoria Square and the shadows seem to suggest early morning. The town hall has pipework for gas illumination fitted on it and I can see faint words 'GOD SAVE THE KING' so some royal event was imminent. Perhaps the band might have been rehearsing for it.
 

DavidGrain

master brummie
The picture of the waterworks staff seems to be at odds with the received wisdom (well, received by me anyway) that the bowler hat was reserved for the foreman or under manager and the workman wore a flat cap, or even a paper hat in the 1800s, like the carpenter in the Walrus and the Carpenter iirc. A lot of the old railway company works pictures will show this convention, there usually being lots of flat caps but only one or two gents in bowlers
First of all I will admit that I have a bowler hat. I don't wear it very often. I bought it as a bit of fun many years ago.

Thinking back to my schooldays, I must have had a very interesting history text book at school when I was doing my GCE O levels. The funny thing is that I don't ever remember our history teacher ever making use of it. We were issued with it at the beginning of the school year and handed it back at the end and were just expected to read it without any instruction as to which chapters to read during the year. What I do remember from it was that it had a number of Punch cartoons. One of them was a bit like the John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett sketch about class distinctions. What this cartoon showed was that it showed, the landowner, a middle class gent, and a farm worker as as you went down the classes their hats where those worn by the previous generation of the class immediately above them.

The last time I saw anyone wearing a bowler hat was years ago when I saw the station master at New Street Station going through the ticket barriers. This reminded me of a film I saw many years ago with Jack Warner ( A Train of Events 1949). I had to look it up to remember the story. Jack Warner played a train driver expecting to get a promotion to a managerial role. In the final scene he was showing going to work on his first day in his new job wearing his bowler hat for the first time.
 

DavidGrain

master brummie
Plenty of hats in the pic below but I suppose the band had to wear them. A 'hat-study' of the pic shows the bandsman on the left had a different hat and badge ... :)
My guess is that is the City of Birmingham Police Band. I think that the bandsman on the left is wearing the uniform of an inspector whereas the others are constables. I have not been able to find any photos online but I have seen an inspectors uniform pre 1948 which had a pill box hat.
 

Johnfromstaffs

Johnfromstaffs
A good thought, but I wonder if those Lichfield water men had followed that convention, or merely a local fashion. One hat theory has been to do with physical height versus the other type of stature concerning place in society, in this case I submit for consideration the photograph of I K Brunel, in his stovepipe hat and posed by the anchor chain of the Great Eastern. I K was not particularly big, but did some big stuff, maybe the hat helped!
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
Plenty of hats in the pic below but I suppose the band had to wear them. A 'hat-study' of the pic shows the bandsman on the left had a different hat and badge ... :)
The third one on the left is also wearing the same sort of hat as the one at the front. However the spectators cover the whole spectrum of hats, homburg/trilby, bowler, flat cap and top hat.

Bob
 

Morturn

Super Moderator
Staff member
A good thought, but I wonder if those Lichfield water men had followed that convention, or merely a local fashion. One hat theory has been to do with physical height versus the other type of stature concerning place in society, in this case I submit for consideration the photograph of I K Brunel, in his stovepipe hat and posed by the anchor chain of the Great Eastern. I K was not particularly big, but did some big stuff, maybe the hat helped!
Brunel was a very accomplished engineer and also quite a showman. He liked making bold statements about himself and in the physical world. The Clifton Suspension Bridge being a very bold statement.

These pioneering engineers where the celebrities of the day. Now we have You Tube influencers and Posh and Becks to be inspired by, not.
 

Richarddye

master brummie
Brunel was a very accomplished engineer and also quite a showman. He liked making bold statements about himself and in the physical world. The Clifton Suspension Bridge being a very bold statement.

These pioneering engineers where the celebrities of the day. Now we have You Tube influencers and Posh and Becks to be inspired by, not.
i agree with Morturn, many hats are statements and some social (or used to be) statements. We are watching Downton Abbey reruns and you will see that clearly, who wears what hat. Most working types wore bowlers, the next level was trilby type then the real strong statement as in Brunel a top hat! I had an uncle who was with MI6 always a trilby and rain coat.
 

mw0njm.

A Brummie Dude
i agree with Morturn, many hats are statements and some social (or used to be) statements. We are watching Downton Abbey reruns and you will see that clearly, who wears what hat. Most working types wore bowlers, the next level was trilby type then the real strong statement as in Brunel a top hat! I had an uncle who was with MI6 always a trilby and rain coat.
as posted in #418 i always wear a jeep hat. .mine states. " It ain't half cold mom"
The hat represents authority and power. Because it covers the head, the hat contains thought; therefore, if it is changed, an opinion is changed. The covered head shows nobility, and different hats signify different orders within the social heirarchy. Removal of a hat upon entry into a building shows respect.:grinning:
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
My Dad always wore his trilby and a mac (gabardine), the latter carried when it got warmer, even to Villa Park on a Saturday and he always doffed his hat to the opposite sex, took it off indoors, including the pub or a restaurant. He would despair at all those baseball cap wearers who keep them on whilst eating. I have always wanted one of those with the peak at the back, but never been able to find one. Are they rare?

Bob
 

mw0njm.

A Brummie Dude
My Dad always wore his trilby and a mac (gabardine), the latter carried when it got warmer, even to Villa Park on a Saturday and he always doffed his hat to the opposite sex, took it off indoors, including the pub or a restaurant. He would despair at all those baseball cap wearers who keep them on whilst eating. I have always wanted one of those with the peak at the back, but never been able to find one. Are they rare?

Bob
1593438181074.pngget one of these. you can wear it any way around,:laughing:
Once upon a time, way back in the 1990s, wearing your cap backwards was a universal sign that you were cool and that you weren't conforming to societal standards of properly worn hats. ... Women used to burn their bras..ooooo..... but the fellas turned their caps around.
 
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