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Footplate crew outfit

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Small Prairie, Mar 17, 2007.

  1. Delta 65

    Delta 65 New Member

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    I'd just like to add my penny's worth regarding greastops, if I may. I started out with one of the Walter Midgely jobs. I ended up hacking away most of the plastic stiffener and getting the wife to sew down the sides. Whilst it no longer resembled a helicopter landing pad, it did make me look like a Geman tank commander. Thank goodness I came across the Beesley website. These greastops are indeed expensive, but they are the only hats that qualify for the title of "Greasetop". The headband is leather and they sit right even without being sewed at the sides (I had to try successively smaller sizes before getting it right... the hat needs to sit slightly higher on your head than any other type of hat or the top of your head will cause it to "inflate"). Many of my colleagues have purchased cheaper greasetops and seem to be content that merely owning and wearing one, regardless of how it looks is sufficiently authentic. Do these people not own mirrors? The shiney PVC top resembles black glass and seems like it would be more at home in some tacky S&M dungeon!
    I study a lot of old railway photos and am aware that greasetops were worn in a multitude of styles, the jaunty angled look being particularly popular; but I have never seen one worn standing up stiffly to attention like these cheap copies do. One of my colleagues even stores his high-viz vest in his hat!
    Within the bounds of my limited budget I stive for an authentic look on the footplate. I wonder why I bother sometimes though, when I see senior footplatemen turning up for driving turns wearing paint-spashed fleeces, baseball caps and tracksuit bottoms. And don't get me started on 3ltr bottles of squash!
    Rant over. Thank you for your time, gentlemen.
     
  2. jimmyvonk

    jimmyvonk New Member

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    I must agree with "Delta 65", I think the Beesley greasetops are well worth the money - and should last for a long time unless it accidently gets fired.
    As I also do WW2 reenactment I think the cost of getting kitted out in an authentic looking footplate uniform is laughably cheep in comparison - easily under £150 including a Beesley, boots etc if you shop around - your looking at 10 times that for WW2, and you'll be lucky to find anyone to lend you his original vehicle for a whole day to use without supervision and pay for your fuel into the bargain! :)
    When you consider you footplate equipment will last you for years it works out at very little per day used - so I got the best available first time.
    I guess I have a bit of an ingrained reenactors view, and always try to dress in keeping with the period of the railway and avoiding any obviously modern items.
     
  3. Delta 65

    Delta 65 New Member

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    That's an interesting point, James. I used to be heavily into Dark Age re-enactment which has probably given me a firm mindset. I suppose that Railway Preservation is also a form of re-enactment, with the operating staff being as much a part of the exhibit as the rolling stock and infrastructure. I believe that the more authentic we are, the better value for money the paying public receive. From a selfish point of view, it's also the closest I can get to time travel! I was born three years after steam came to an end in my region so have no memories of this magical era to cherish. If something is worth doing, then it's worth doing to the best of your ability.
     
  4. NNR Engineer

    NNR Engineer New Member

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  5. jimmyvonk

    jimmyvonk New Member

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    Yes, have one of the jackets, surviving surprisingly well. :)
     
  6. gz3xzf

    gz3xzf New Member

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    I have been using Faithful brand Jackets and bib & Brace overalls from Outdoor & Surplus for many years, the only thing I change is the rubber buttons on the jackets. I have also found their service quick and reliable.
     
  7. Louth

    Louth New Member

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    I have tried some of these, and found they shrink if you wash them on a temp high enough to get the oil and grease out of them. Also the bib and brace are a bit naff with the pocket on the front of the bib bit and the metal buckles at the top dont last very long before they become weak. I had to tie mine on. I subsequently bought Beesley and cannot fault them.
     
  8. Delta 65

    Delta 65 New Member

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    Just for the record, I found out the other day that Mr. Beesley has sold the business to Geoff Holland. An authentic greasetop should now be referred to as a "Holland Greasetop"! That should make things interesting. "Is that what Dutch drivers wear?"
     
  9. NNR Engineer

    NNR Engineer New Member

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    Thanks for the help about overalls, I have now bought some of the NYMR overalls, and so far so good.
     
  10. Grashopper

    Grashopper New Member

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    I've just bought a jacket and overtrousers from Geoff Holland, delivery was quick enough and quality of the clothing seems high. As someone who's worn overalls almost full time for the last 18 years, they seem like they should last! I will be following the cleaning instructions (rare for a man, I know!) sent with the garments to see how they hold up.

    Thaks for the the advice given on this thread, made interesting reading for a footplate newbie like me. I took advice from a chap at work re footplate wear, he phoned his dad who was a fireman and then driver at Faversham, and he and his colleagues wore overtrousers with braces as opposed to bib and braces. My colleague even has a picture of a driver from Stuarts lane who use to wear an old waistcoat outside of his jacket!
     
  11. Foxhunter

    Foxhunter Member

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    Mmmm.... just clocked this post, I am amazed nobody's mentioned a "Dutch" cap in this context!

    Foxy (ducking....)
     
  12. Grashopper

    Grashopper New Member

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    Any suggestions for rain/winterwear? I have a hi-vi rain coat but would prefer not to wear that on the footplate unless absolutely necessary. Am looking ato get something like a donkey jacket, would this be correct/useful for SR/BR footplate crews? It can be mighty wet and cold on something like the Bluebells' C class!
     
  13. brendan

    brendan New Member

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    I wear a donkey jacket, I was able to pick a new one up off ebay earlier this year for a tenner inc delivery.
     
  14. lil Bear

    lil Bear Well-Known Member

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  15. Rumpole

    Rumpole Member

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    Apologies for raising this thread from the annals of history, but I just wanted to say a good word about the standard of both product and service at the NYMR shed shop. Excellent quality overalls, and as for service; I ordered my most recent set online at 10 o'clock on a Sunday evening, and on Tuesday morning they arrived in the post at pretty much the other end of England.

    Excellent work, and very much recommended.
     
  16. cv01jw

    cv01jw New Member

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    Rumpole - have you noticed if they have shrunk at all? I am looking to order some and am undecided between needing a small or a medium set.
     
  17. NNR Engineer

    NNR Engineer New Member

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    I bought the NYMR shed shop overalls in a 'medium' and I'm 6'3" and they still fit after many washes.
     
  18. Rumpole

    Rumpole Member

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    Mine certainly haven't. I've spoken to a couple of guys at Swanage, and none of them have experienced any problems.
     
  19. Biskit

    Biskit New Member

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    Just to resurrect this thread with a slight variation: Can anyone shed any light on the types of footplate uniform typical in the pre-grouping era? I know it will have varied a lot between companies, and I'm particularly interested in LNWR practice from around 1900, but any general info would be appreciated. Looking at old photographs showing drivers and firemen in waistcoats and blazers, I'm sometimes a bit sceptical how typical the outfits shown were, and whether the men 'smartened up' for the photo. Also, aside from the GWR and later BR WR who had footplate trousers and jacket, at roughly what date did the other companies standardise on the familiar bib & brace with jacket? Thanks in advance for any assistance.
     
  20. guard_jamie

    guard_jamie New Member

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    In my research which has generally been toward uniformed staff rather than footplate crew, I have found that generally footplate crew would be exceedingly smartly turned out by our standards at all times - it was just the norm then. Pride in oneself, pride in one's job.

    The concept of the greasetop did not exist at that time, and generally it would appear footplate crew were not issued with uniform. Men can be found in all sorts of hats, the most common being a cap not dissimilar to a breton fisherman's cap and flat caps. Collar and tie were the norm - separate starched collar of course of various designs, rounded points being particularly common in the edwardian period. High topped bowlers were not unknown, especially amongst LNWR drivers who also had a tendency - it might even been an edict from on high - to wear black bow ties, rather uniquely.

    Jacket was normally of the 'sack' type - four button, buttoning high on the chest with only a little of the shirt and tie showing, with four buttons down to broadly curved edges at the bottom. A very common fashion amongst all wearers of such jackets was to do the top button up to reveal the waistcoat, watch and chain beneath. Trousers to match - high waisted and braces. Waistcoat either different, possibly contrasting colour or to match making up a three piece.

    I'm not sure when the bib and brace emerged - I'd guess you'd probably start seeing such simple wear in WW1, but the 20s were a remarkably elegant era too and it is possible its a 30s invention.

    Hope that helps! I know a few suppliers of vintage clothing and reproductions if you're looking to wear it yourself as part of a volunteering role, PM me.
     

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