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UNIFORMS

School uniforms! Oh the horrors and the traumas they inflicted upon us. The choice was Matthias Robinson or Rawcliffes. You had to go downstairs to the basement at Rawcliffes for uniforms.

At the age of eleven, I didn’t think much about the cost, but there was a tremendous amount of stuff for our parents to buy.

By 1959 the list was —

OUTER WEAR
A blazer
A gabardine raincoat (with or without detachable hood)
A wool overcoat was optional. Not many of us had them
A hat (either a hat with a hat-band and very low crown, or a beret)
A scarf in school colours. There was an option of wool or felt
Black or brown shoes
A satchel (single shoulder-strap or double-loop back-pack style)

A shoe bag to hang from your cloakroom peg was de rigueur

WINTER TERM
A tunic dress (1st and 2nd year only), then -
A navy A-line skirt
White shirts or blouses (those with the elastic round the hem)
A tie (navy, red and white)
A navy pullover or cardigan (the “V” was edged in school colours)
White ankle socks (I think beige was an option), then -
Stockings (optional from the fifth form onwards, I think)
Navy hair ribbons

SUMMER TERM
Several candy-striped dresses in red, blue, green or yellow stripes
White hair ribbons

SPORTS AND GAMES
A navy-blue regulation swimsuit (wool or nylon)
White Aertex games shirts
Navy knickers (divided skirts were an option)
Gym shoes (destined always to be lost)
Hockey boots

Sports equipment such as hockey sticks and tennis racquets were optional. You could use the school ones or bring your own.

We had to bring our own art overalls. Our cookery aprons we made ourselves during our first term of needlework. Most of us had a needlework bag that we’d made at our junior schools.

No jewellery was allowed, but we did whatever we could to our uniforms to try to “improve” them: smarter shoes, stiff petticoats under the summer dresses, hats that were knocked into a softer shape.

I believe that there was a “bring and buy” system for parents who couldn’t always afford to buy everything new. I think it took place at school, a week or two before the new school year commenced. Some parents donated outgrown uniform items; others were able to purchase them.

Click here to see a 1939 document detailing the wartime regulations for school uniforms; also here for hand-written details (and drawings) of uniforms around 1946.

Many people have memories of the uniforms. If you have any specific recollections, please e-mail lhs.alumnae@gmail.com


“Pre War and during the war, sixth formers could wear their own clothes....BUT....it had to be navy and white and if I remember correctly either a skirt and blouse or a pinafore dress. Pinafore dresses could be made from your old gym slip! A plain navy dress was acceptable and you could add a white collar.” Joan O'Neill ’33-’43

“As for the sixth form dress – no, in our day, school uniform was the standard dress.” Mavis Webster ’46-’51

“In the sixth form, we wore different ties (same colours but different width stripes) in the winter months but I'm sure we didn't wear uniform dresses in the Summer months.” Pat Kelly ’57-’64

“Oh the joy of going into blazer and short socks instead of those wrinkly lisle stockings for my birthday on May 3 - no matter how chilly it was. And that big soft velour hat. I put my face into it during the frightening bits in Snow White. (What child now would go to the cinema in school uniform?)” Janet Rawlins ’38-’44

“Yes, I remember all the gear. The first time ever was quite daunting, and no doubt very expensive. The tie, the gymslip, the knickers, shirts, cardigans, blazer, gabardine, beret. Can you remember when you first put it all on - the newness of it all?” Gill Crossley ’59-’66

“I was so proud of my uniform, only to be sick all down it after my first ever school dinner and spent the rest of the afternoon with a raging headache.” Grete Wheeler ’53-’58

“I remember starting school in 1965, the first day sitting on the wood floor in the hall, wearing my uniform and three quarter length beige socks. I was dismayed to find my tunic was covered in dust; so proud I was of it!” Anne Pash ’65-’68

“I do remember my first day in 1D. I sat at the back of the centre row, so proud to be there in my new uniform and looked around at all the other girls looking so smart. I did feel privileged.” Veronica Skirrow ’59-’64

“When I first went to Lawnswood we were sometimes asked to kneel on the floor. If the skirt or gymslip did not touch the floor that meant that it was too short.” Susan Moon ’65-’71

“I wonder how many of you bought your outfits from Rawcliffes and how many from Matthias Robinson (now Debenham's). Mum chose the latter because she was convinced that the quality was better and so my uniform - a huge drain on the family budget at the time - would last. The list of uniform and equipment seemed endless and that was without the horror of the 'knicker linings' that Miss Goodall thought to be de rigueur.” Margaret Collie ’59-’66

“The 6th formers were expected to wear a different tie to the ‘rest’ and my Mum couldn't figure out why I needed a different tie when the old one was still OK - so to my embarrassment I spent the junior 6th the ONLY girl still wearing the wrong tie. During the next year I got a Saturday morning job and bought, with my first paycheck, a new tie.” Sue Kellett ’55-’62

“As I recall it became possible to buy the school scarf in different lengths. We also made them longer by sewing them together.” Susan Moon ’65-’71

“We also wore stockings - oh, the American Tan!” Gill Crossley ’59-’66

“Do you remember when we used to wear our paper nylon petticoats and broad, white plastic belts with our summer dresses? My Mum used to stand at the front door and check that I was only wearing two to school!” Jocelyn Laws ’59-’65

“The candy-striped dresses had quite full skirts. This was perfect for the paper-nylon petticoats we liked to wear since tight waists and puffy skirts were fashionable in the sixties. I remember I had one petticoat with plastic hoops to hold it out – I tried cycling to school in that one day – never again!” Joan Hardy ’58-’65

“My uniform certainly did last! Bought to 'grow into', my gabardine almost trailed the pavement in 1959 and I had to wear it until 1964 when I finally managed to get rid of it and have a duffel coat (complete with CND badge, of course).” Margaret Collie ’59-’66

“I do remember my gymslip being way below my knees though — and when I finished wearing it, it was rather mini...” Avril Escolme ’46-’51

“My everlasting memory is of the hideous gabardine that my mother insisted I would 'grow into' - it's still too big for me over 40 years later!” Glenis Smith ’60-’65

“I made my own Gym blouse in needlework class (Miss Riddoch), and had to wear it for games and gym. Times were hard in 1947! We had to play games in navy blue knickers, which usually had loose elastic, and one leg was usually down to the knee! My gymslip was well below knee level at the start, but after a few years it was very mini.” Avril Escolme ’46-’51

“On Thinking Day - 22nd February, we could wear our Guide uniform in school. I loved doing that.” Barbara Catton ’57-’62

“I had forgotten about wearing my Guide Uniform on Feb 22nd each year. I was always very pleased to show off the badges I had earned.” Beryl Midgley ’55-’60

“Shoes were always a problem. I was kept in sensible shoes for as long as my pocket money left me with no other option than to have my parents' choice, and to add insult to injury I still ended up with a bunion in my twenties!” Gill Crossley ’59-’66

“I was a Rawcliffe customer way back then. One of my most appalling memories of uniform was when the rage was for heavy shoes/boots with elastic sides - they were all the rage at one time but I hated them. Mum said as I had insisted on buying them I would wear them. Learnt that lesson early!!” Joyce Latto ’59-’64

“There was a choice of two cossies. The wool one or the nylon one. Both were bad, but on the whole I felt glad to have the nylon one, as the wool one always filled up with water and sagged down at the rear. Of course, the nylon one clung to you unforgivingly, but that seemed the lesser evil.” Sandra Baker ’59-’64

“Do you remember wearing your dad's shirt for art?” Janet Ball ’56-’61

“I too wore one of my Dad's old air force shirts for art classes and took great delight in cleaning my brushes on the tail. It was stiff as a board by the time I left school.” Beryl Midgley ’55-’60

“I had quite forgotten the art overalls from our dads' shirts.” Val Hill ’56-’61

“Remember duffle coats - only to be worn by the sixth form? I wore one in fifth form - that was one battle with Hilda (Longworth) I won particularly as my Mum & Dad both said I could wear it.” Jocelyn Laws ’59-’65

“I can remember being allowed to wear a duffle coat - a 6th form privilege. Also the coffee club in 6th form. Remember the "den" where we (or some) went for a smoke!! No teachers allowed. I think the year after I left some pupils were discovered smoking - and they weren't cigarettes!! That will have been Class of '60 or '61.” Margaret Eastwood ’59-’66

“The Big Thing was to sew a band of fur around your gabardine/duffel coat hood edges. Cool!” Janet China ’65-’70

“The fashions generally became progressively shorter. I think we adapted the uniform a bit.” Susan Moon ’65-’71

“My blazer was so big that I was still wearing it on my last day at school.” Margaret Collie ’59-’66

“My memories of school itself are not that happy - I hated wearing my uniform as I looked so fat during all those years & that wasn't helped by having a pleated skirt turned over at the waist because it was bought too long in order to last.” Veronica Skirrow ’59-’64

“For some reason I was one of her [Mrs. White’s] favourites and the day I came to school in a non-regulation school sweater, she gave me a 'quiet reminder' to wear the correct jumper tomorrow.” Jackie Rowe ’59-’64

“Those of us who were more into boys and appearances spent a lot of time backcombing our hair in front of the mirrors in the toilets. Your beret would be quite invisible to anyone approaching from the front once it was pinned on behind the hair..” Joan Hardy ’58-’65

“As far as the beret was concerned, we all used to take out the cardboard rim, fold the resultant flat beret in half and pin it to the back of our heads so that you could still see our bouffant hair.” Joyce Latto ’59-’64

“I also remember wearing my hat on the back of my head and hiding it with my hair.” Jocelyn Laws ’59-’65

“I had my Guide badge sewed one side of my beret and my LHS badge the other and folded it over depending where I was!” Janet Ball ’56-’61

“We did wear our berets, but folded them so small in the hope that the Secondary Modern pupils would see we were actually rebellious & not poke fun at us!” Veronica Skirrow ’59-’64

“Apart from the beret I also recall a blue hat with a brim and a ribbon in the school colours.” Susan Moon ’65-’71

“I didn’t have a beret. I had a felt boater with a thick twangy band on elastic under my chin. I hated it and I am convinced it is why I have more than my fair share of chins these days. I still have it in a cupboard with a tie and a blue and white school summer dress.” Miriam Lewis ’66-’71

“From about ’68 we were allowed to have our own design of summer dress, provided it used the official stripey pink/green/blue/yellow material. Mine was a horrendously short mini dress.” Janet China ’65-’70

“I had forgotten about the candy stripe dresses we wore in summer. I quite liked them.” Maureen Whitehead ’59-’64

“Twice I was pulled out of the assembly line, once because my stripes [of my dress] were the wrong width although the material was bought from the designated supplier and then because my pleats were the wrong width with the winter uniform.” Barbara Catton ’57-’62

“We could only wear our tunics for the first two years, thank goodness, but I remember that the skirt which replaced mine in the 3rd form developed such a shine that you could see your face in it and had an unpleasant greenish tinge to it in the end, as did my jumper.” Margaret Collie ’59-’66

“Longer skirts came back into fashion. Long skirts were sometimes purchased from the Army and Navy Stores. Around this time both short and long skirts were worn.” Susan Moon ’65-’71

“We also progressed to V-neck jumpers then and those were very modern and fetching. But my mum would buy the close fitting ones, which did nothing for the slow to develop (!!), and I really wanted the sloppy one.” Gill Crossley ’59-’66

“There was a fashion of unpicking the arms off the blue jumper or cardigan and wearing it as a waistcoat with the shirt and tie.” Susan Moon ’65-’71

“Am I alone in remembering having to wear liberty bodices until I qualified - barely - for a bra?” Margaret Collie ’59-’66

“Around the same time, the fashion was to wear your winter white collared shirt under your red round necked woolly jumper. These short-sleeved jumpers were introduced as an alternative to the shirt/tie. A mistake.” Janet China ’65-’70

“An alternative of a red jumper was introduced. I never liked the red jumpers.” Susan Moon ’65-’71

“As for the beret - does anyone else remember the lengths we went to to squash them out of shape and make a soft beret out of a hard one? We even tucked the brim part inside to make them less like dinner plates on our heads.” Gill Crossley ’59-’66

“Miss Holden, who retired after our first year had allowed us to wear navy blue nylon knee length socks. Not so Hilda. Rachel Hoare & I had quite a few discussions with Hilda on that subject.” Jocelyn Laws ’59-’65

“I probably gained a reputation as a troublemaker in the fourth form when my mother allowed me to wear an anorak (in school colours of course) as she wasn't prepared to fork out for another gabardine. Miss Longworth told her it was ‘only suitable for mountaineering’. She must have changed her mind about me though as I did go on to win the Croft Award, which I spent on dictionaries for my modern languages course at uni.” Janet Parkin ’64-’71

“This sad old tart still has her blazer, scarf and tie! Couldn’t bear to throw them away! The blazer is very threadbare [well it would be after forty-one years!]” Janet Ball ’56-’61

“When my Mum died, I found amongst her treasures my beret and scarf as well as the cookery apron I toiled over in the 1st form.” Margaret Collie ’59-’66

“My cookery apron is also in my 'treasure' box.” Beryl Midgley ’55-’60