Saturday, 19 January 2013

Sepia Saturday - Forward with Flat Caps




Each week, Sepia Saturday, provides an opportunity for genealogy bloggers to share their family history through photographs.

One item immediately stood out for me in  photographic prompt  - the man wearing a flat cap. 

Below is a photograph of my grandfather William Danson seated with a group of workers at the ICI factory at Thornton, near Fleetwood, Lancashire.  Was this some special occasion with Grandad given the pride of place at the front?  It is difficult to assess the date - 1930's?   William featured in my Sepia  Saturday postings in December - this time focusing on his experiences in the First World War and the cards he sent back home to his family.   





Here is my husband aged about one with his maternal grandparents Matthew Iley White (a boilermaker)  and Alice Armitage of South Shields, County Durham.  c. 1939.


Stepping out oblivious of the camera is Grandfather Donaldson, a signwriter and painter, again in South Shields, County Durham. 


Turning back  to the start of the century c.1903   here is a group  of schoolboys including my great uncle George Danson  - on the left sporting a flat cap.   George was killed in the  First World War aged just 22. 

 
*****

In Britain flat caps were generally associated with workers in the north of England and .  Think of old photographs and newsreels  of men streaming from the mills, or cheering from the football terraces or enlisting for the First World War.
 
I think of them too as worn by coster-mongers in London - think of Eliza Doolittle's father in the film of "My Fair Lady";  or Del Boy in the TV comedy  "Only Fools  and Horses".
 
At the other end of the social scale,  the Duke of Windsor as Edward Prince of Wales, was photographed in a flat cap as part of a golfing outfit.  Nowadays finer versions are popular rural wear at farming events, countryside fairs, horse race meetings etc. And if you have the youth  and looks to get away with it, flat caps are  being worn  as fashion statements by "celebrities".   
 
My own father would not be seen dead in one!

Find out how other bloggers have viewed the street theme prompt - click HERE



Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved
 
 

21 comments:

  1. Come to think of it, there are not too many pictures of family members at their work. Not in my family at least. Maybe your grandfather was seated because he was the boss?

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    1. Thanks, Peter, for taking the time to comment. In any official record I have Grandad was described as a labourer, and I doubt if he was even a foreman. I will never know!

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  2. The back story of the flat cap is very interesting, and I love your comparisons that make me see what you mean. After celebrating the flat cap, you really surprised me with that last sentence. I love a great last sentence that just puts a bow on the present.

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    1. Thanks, Wendy. I really appreciate your comment, particularly about my final sentence being "the bow o.n the present". I do try to make the end of the blog posting a strongish one and not just to peter out.

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  3. I like your slant on this story -the flat cap hadn't even stood out for me, reflecting different social/cultural experiences. They were not as common here though Dad did get one when he went to Scotland. Was your father averse to them because they were associated with a different class of worker? Or another reason?

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    1. Thanks, Pauleen, for your comment. I am always amazed at the different way bloggers interpret the same photo prompt and with this one flat caps stood out for me. I think you are right too with why my father did not like them. For him, it was associated wtih the working class znd he was very proud of the fact that he rose from leaving school at the age of 14 to work his way up to the postiion of Sales Director of a small Scottish company.

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  4. I live in the North East of England close to where Andy Capp originated. I still wear a waterproof flat cap occasionally. Somehow the ubiquitous baseball cap does not have the same appeal.

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  5. Thanks, bob, for taking the time to comment. I agree with your about the baseball cap!

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  6. Just love your story of the cap. Grandfather Donaldson personifies the period - when I saw Alan's "man in cap" I looked for the fag. Flat 'ats and fags went together like tripe and onions.

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  7. What a fine selection of cap photos! I really like how you picked that theme too.

    Kathy M.

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  8. I have fond memories of these hats. Several older uncles in Canada used to wear them. I associate them with age I guess rather than class. The pictures brought back excellent memories in particular of "Unc" - I don't think I ever knew his full name.

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  9. It's so funny he stood out for me too, although his flat cap that you took to wonderful heights and fantastic photos too, was the only style hat my man (grandpa) never ever wore! But this side profile- he so was like my grandpa- great supply of flat caps - my hats off to you! Hahahaha!

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  10. Great collection of photos Sue. It was so sad to read that your great uncle George was killed in WW1 though.

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  11. If I saw a man wearing one of those caps now, I would think he was wearing it to cover up a bald spot.

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  12. Flat caps definitely give a time and place feel to a photo, don't they. Thanks for sharing these from your collection.

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  13. I too have a whole family of photographs of previous generations in flat caps. And not the modern (well modernish) restrained type of thing but proper wool headcoverers that gave you a big head whether you wanted one or not. In my youth I would not have been seen dead in such a thing, but I must confess to having grown fond of them as I have aged (Matured)

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  14. My paternal grandfather wore a flat cap and I never thought it was particularly flattering but oddly enough my dad starting wearing one in recent years and it rather suited him!

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  15. Great photos, I like the school boys the best for their variety of character. Men's hats deserve more history. The flat cap must have had a start somewhere. When did a man change to a new hat? Was there one style or color more fancy than others? Was it a rite of passage for a boy to get his first cap?

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    1. Thanks, Mike for your searching questions on the fashion in men's hats. Youj have given me a prompt for something further on the topic1

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  16. My mother's father often wore a flat cap, although I don't think we called them that. My father and his brother wore them when they were school age boys but not later on. Interesting and now I'm wondering about Mike's questions.

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  17. Thank you to everyone for their kind comments. Initially I thought I had nothing to contribute on this week's prompt, but it is aamzing what surfaces when you ponder further! It shows the fascination of Sepia Saturday!

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