.jump-link{ display:none }

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Eton Collars and Sailor Suits: Sepia Saturday

Two smartly dressed young boys feature in this week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph.  It is usually the girls and women in the family who get the attention for their clothes, but this time the boys are on show with their Eton Collars and Sailor Suits.


Eton Collars took their name from the uniform of the famous English Public School and were starched detachable collars. 

A photograph from my husband's family collection - but he does not know who it is.  The only clue - it was taken by a photographer in South Shields, County Durham. The guess is, it could be his grandmother's half brother - Robert William Hibbert, born in 1896.

Joseph Prince Oldham  (1855-1921), founder of a carters and coal merchant business in Blackpool, and my cousin's great grandfather.

My great uncle George Danson (1894-1916) from Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire stands on the left with a small group of boys and their teacher Mr Lord.  I reckon George looks about 12-13 years old.Ten years on in 1916 he was serving in the First World War One as a stretcher bearer in the field .  Just one week after his 22nd birthday he was killed on the Somme.  Did the boys and their teacher in this photograph suffer the  same fate? 
Sailor Suits were made popular by the many photographs of royal children in both Brittan and Russia.  They  became a fashionable out fit for both girls and boys, with girls' dresses having the same style of flap collar.   
My cousin's father, Arthur Smith, born in Blackpool  1908,   in his sailor suit - and what a wonderful mop of curls!


 A photograph from my great aunt's collection which featured many of her friends and friend's family.  On the reverse this was named as Jackie Threlfall, and the photographer Watson, 13 Wellington Terrace, Blackpool.  To date I have been unable to trace any more information on Jackie, with his surname a popular one in that part of Lancashire. 

Frederick Henry Weston (my Unclle Fred), born 1905 In Wolverhampton, Staffordshire. 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.  
In the 1911 census the Weston family were living in Lunt Lane, Lunt Gardens, Bilston, Wolverhampton in the heart of industrial English Midlands. A photograph in Wolverhampton Archives indicated that Lunt Lane was the location of the Bilston Sewers - so not exactly garden country!  

My uncle Harry Rawcliffe Danson, (1912-2001) in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.  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 evacuation from  Dunkirk and later served in Africa and Italy.  He was a man of many interests - gardening, sailing, ballroom dancing, stamp collecting, and photography and   retained his good dark looks all his life. 
Sepia Saturday offers  bloggers the chance to share their history
through the medium of photographs.

Click HERE to see more of this week's photographs from Sepia Saturday bloggers.



  1. Excellent collection of photos on the mark! I know at least 2 of my sons wore sailor suits, as well as their father in the Coast Guard. Don't think there were ever any of those collars around though!

  2. How lucky you are to have so many neat pictures to fit the theme so well! Arthur certainly does have a head of hair in that one photo. My goodness! :)

  3. A great selection of well-dressed little boys, all looking as if they quite enjoyed the posing. My favourite is the second one with his big fur hat.

  4. These collars took my breath away. I'd love to see a come back of such fashions. Really. (I know the T-shirt is here to stay though. Our loss.)

  5. Wonderful photos. I did not know about Eton collars, interesting. Sailor suits (or at least shirts) I've seen among my old family photos too.

  6. There are some adorable photos here, and all well matched to the prompt. Love those big hats on little heads.

  7. You have the best collection of formal portraits. I am officially jealous.

  8. The fashion trends for boys make a fascinating study using old photos. I didn't know what the Eton collar was called either, but I recognized it from numerous old photos. But young Robert's fur hat is new one to me. It looks like a winter sombrero. So many of my violinist boys are pictured in sailor suits that I almost chose some of them for this weekend, but that was too easy.

    I wonder how quickly these trends evolved. Royal families were pretty conservative and likely followed more often than led the public taste in garment styles. There's also regional flavors I wish I knew more about. German kids probably dressed differently from British but the differences are subtle. For instance would Eton collars a distinctly British thing? I think German students had a cap that marked them as scholars as opposed to working boys.

  9. A delightful selection of photos in both boys' suit styles. I love the photo of your Uncle Fred all dressed up. The photo of your Uncle George Danson is particularly poingnant given how little time he had left when it was taken. One does wonder what became of his school chums in the photo.


Thank you for your comment which will appear on screen after moderation.