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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Sepia Saturday - Short Trousers for Boys

Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity to share their family history through photographs.

It is the females of the family who usually get featured for their costume, but it is the turn of boys. 

Toward the end of the 19th century and into the early 20th century, children no longer dressed like tiny adults, but had their own  style of clothes.  But boys were often still dressed in skirts  for their early years -   as in this early photograph from my cousin Stuart. 

                                Stuart's father Arthur Smith, born in 1908

In the first half of the 20th century, for boys the main characteristic was short trousers, worn whatever the weather,  with knee length socks.  Boys did not go into long trousers until the age of around 13-14 - something of a rite of passage

  The note on the back of this photograph says "Arthur in his first pair  of trousers", c.1910
Harry Rawcliffe Danson, (my Uncle Harry), born 1912
Harry's middle name came from  his grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe.  This is a section of a larger family photograph taken in 1916 when his father  William Danson went off to war in Flanders.  24 years later Harry survived the Battle of Dunkirk.  He retained his good dark looks all his life.


In the early 20th century, large hats for boys seemed to be the style for formal photographs  - wherever you might be across England  -  north east, north west  or the midlands -a s illustrated in these family photographs. 

 My husband's uncle Matthew Iley White, born 1915.
Photograph taken by T. W. H. Liddle, Photographer, South Shields.  

Frederick Henry Weston (my Uncle Fred), born 1905. in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire

This photograph came to me via a connection of my cousin and is one of the very few early photographs I have of my father's Weston family. The story was that photographs were thrown out  following a death.  What a crime!   

In the 1911 census the Weston family were living in Lunt Lane, Lunt Gardens, Bilston, Wolverhampton in the industrial English Midlands. A photograph in Wolverhampton Archives indicated that Lunt Lane was the location of the Bilston Sewers - so not exactly garden country. 

Surely Fred must have been dressed up for a special occasion in this fancy coat and white socks and big hat?  Unfortunately there is no longer anyone alive  from the immediate  family to ask. 


Below are two photographs from the large collection left by my Great Aunt Jennie (Danson), who grew up in Poulton-le-Fylde, near Blackpool,  Lancashire. She had written names on the back, but otherwise little is known about them.   I suspect they  are the children of friends,  and taken around 1918. I was unable to make much  headway in searching for the surnames  in the 1911 census. 

Jesse and Bernard Pennington in a studio beach photograph, complete with spade
Taken by W. J. Gregson, 82 Talbot Road, Blackpool 

A sailor suit is a uniform traditionally worn by enlisted seamen in the navy, characterized by its distinctive collarIt gained popularity and  developed into a popular clothing style  as worn by the children  of Queen Victoria.

 Arthur Smith again in his sailor suit - and what a wonderful mop of curls

Jackie Threlfall, wearing the popular sailor suit.
Taken by ? Watson, 13 Wellington Terrace, Blackpool


Moving onto the 1940's 

My husband and  his older brother.

My brother in law - with furry friend

My husband in his winter coat - rather similar to the coat worn by the boy
on the left in the  prompt photograph.   

 My husband - look at those baggy shorts 
worn with a sports jacket and V neck pullover!

My cousin Stuart with his sister and how angelic they look, with their blond locks obviously inherited form their father Arthur (see above) 
I remember my brother wearing similar short trousers held up by straps.

My brother at play! 
This was taken  on holiday in Bournemouth where paddling stream ran through the park,  My mother \always knew to take a change of clothes with us for my brother who inevitably managed to fall in the water at some point.  Seeing he is wearing a jumper, it cannot have been a warm summer. 

Find out what other bloggers and boys are getting up to this week - click HERE


  1. Quite some expressions on their faces. Your husband in the baggy shorts seems to be taking a drink of something in a goblet :)

  2. What wonderful photos. You've got the collection of boys in shorts, and including your husband too. When I think of all those skinned knees, it boggles the mind. But I guess that was preferred to having to patch knees on slacks...which of course were outgrown quickly. I didn't realize the beginning of boys wearing shorts. Good post!

  3. A great take on the theme & a host of neat pictures. Some of the outfits are pretty cute - especially the sailor suits. But some - oh my! Those poor young boys - except that was the fashion of the day so they were in style. And my kids complain about how I dressed them in the '70s & '80s!

  4. Arthur Smith's mother must have had so much fun dressing her son during his childhood.

  5. This was a terrific group of photos. I've learned a lot about dating people in vintage photographs by following the fashion styles in our Sepian's family photo collections. The boy's sailor suit was evidently just as popular in France, Germany, Austria. However I'm still learning the subtle differences in how they imitated their respective navies.

  6. A wonderful collection of photographs of young boys. Stuart's father must have endured some ribbing for his beutiful long curly locks.

  7. Lovely set of photographs. Short trousers for boys continued in fashion for decades after the 60s. During the 40s and 50s most boys were about 13 before they their first long trousers. By the time I left primary school in the late 60s, most boys were changing to long trousers around eleven, sometimes a year or two younger. I wore short trousers until I left primary school, which was quite normal at the time. Fashions have changed since then! Thanks for these photos and information.

  8. Sorry, I think I made a mistake. I meant to say that short trousers continued in fashion until about the late 60s or early 70s. Some boys wore short trousers in primary school in the 70s and 80s but it wasn't as common as previous decades. Then again, some schools may have been stricter than others! Thanks for publishing my last comment.


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