I thought it might be interesting to examine the school uniform over the years. I found a fairly recent description of the current school uniform listed, since augmented by a bang up to date one, and I can have a bash at recalling how it was when I was at the school. However help is requested from other readers to fill in that of earlier years.
I understand that the school uniform is under review for possible changes starting in September 2008. I've also moved away from Lower Edmonton since writing the bulk of this page so I don't get to see the pupils around and about as I used to. Certainly I'd formed the opinion that there wasn't anything particularly uniform about the uniform, especially compared to other schools.
The Welcome Booklet published in June 2007 describes the school uniform as follows:
The July 2007 school newsletter clarifies that this is a new single uniform for boys and girls that starts in September 2007. It also differs from the above in that it seems plain black trainers are to be allowed. It doesn't explain why navy blue blazers and jumpers are being paired with black trousers as this isn't something one would normally encourage. The boys who still have grey jumpers and trousers will be allowed to continue wearing them until they need replacing and they must be hoping that doesn't happen too soon.
The description above is similar to, but not identical to, that I found in the 2004 welcome booklet for Year 7 pupils.
That revealed the following for boys:
The girls' uniform was described as:
Uniform wasn't worn in the Sixth Form. The tartan kilt I'd seen being worn seemed to be a single shade of blue on a darker blue background and a different design to that from the my time at the school. I am somewhat baffled that black socks were not allowed for boys when black trousers were, and also when they were allowed for girls. However the real mystery is why navy was being paired with black at all.
The school tie is not the same as that worn in the 1970s and 1980s and quite possibly for many years previously to that. It is similar in that it is striped on navy with each 'stripe' being comprised of three separate stripes with the two outer ones being gold. However now the wider central stripe is a different colour (pale blue perhaps?). Some pupils' ties also carry the school badge.
I'd only seen the tie from a distance while wearing sunglasses. Similarly I didn't spend my time examining schoolgirls' kilts (and I still don't) and I was only assuming there was still a standard pattern. Perhaps someone could confirm the details?
I joined the school in September 1974. The uniform was defined very rigidly in a booklet issued to parents and it seems extremely likely that it had previously been enforced rigidly too. However with Mr Hudson having passed away it was never going to be enforced to quite the same standards and it became increasingly relaxed over the years.
Boys had to wear navy blue blazers with the school badge on the breast pocket and also a gold band across the top of the pocket. Wool blazers were the standard issue at the official suppliers but more tailored barathea ones with sewn on badges were as popular. Over the years polyester took over. Shirts were plain white long sleeves all year. School ties were school pattern navy blue with gold stripes and were worn all year round but in the summer months permission would often be granted to remove them, in which case the shirts had to be worn with collars outside the blazers. If jumpers were worn they had to be medium-grey V-neck. Trousers were meant to be medium grey but charcoal grey was much more popular. Shoes were meant to be plain black gibsons (see note below) but that rule was pretty quickly relaxed and basically you could have anything that was a black lace up and fairly flat soled (this was the 1970s remember, platform soled shoes were in fashion). Overcoats were supposed to be plain raincoats (the sort often known as 'flasher macs') and probably navy blue. Trench coats were a particular trend though and eventually you could wear parkas or anoraks and the like if you stuck to blue or black.
The shoes really were referred to as gibsons even though traditionally that refers to the ladies' equivalent of the gentlemen's derby shoe. A particular manufacturer (John White perhaps?) and style were specified and plain really was plain — no brogue like decoration, not even an apron or a toecap.
The boys' tie is reproduced (badly!) as the background of the footer of the web pages. As can be seen each 'stripe' is in fact three stripes with the centre one being wider.
In 1974 school caps (navy blue with a gold circular band on the crown) were still compulsory and had to be worn to school (the convention for those going to the Lower School from the east side of the Borough was to put them on when crossing the A10). They also had to be taken to assembly and there were regular checks. However they were no longer required by the start of the next academic year.
Strictly speaking boys were still supposed to wear short trousers, with medium grey knee length socks in the school pattern, unless very tall. However in practice this was applied as long trousers being OK unless the boy was very short. I was extremely short but no way was I wearing shorts. Indeed only about three boys actually did and naturally they gave them up before too long. There were originally strict regulations about hair length but these became increasingly relaxed over the years.
Uniform regulations extended to P.E. kit too. For P.E. indoors it was black shorts, white ankle socks and black plimsolls (and that's all, no underpants allowed unless you had another pair to change into afterwards, and it was checked on occasions). For 'Games' periods add in plain long sleeve shirts in house colours, gold socks, and football boots. The P.E. rules stayed pretty fixed but for 'Games' pretty much anything became acceptable in the way of shirts, shorts and footwear, not to mention sweatshirts. The official school football shirt was gold with black trim, paired with the black shorts and gold socks from the standard kit.
Girls had to wear the same blazers as the boys with plain white blouses and a plain gold tie. If pullovers were worn they had to be navy blue v-neck. Kilts were of the school pattern and there were no doubt restrictions on the length. The tartan had a number of shades of blues (and greys?) on a dark blue background. By the time the webmaster was in the sixth form there had apparently been a change in supplier for the kilts as the colours were much richer and darker and they were cut longer too. It was easy to tell who had an old kilt and who had a new one. Girls had to wear plain white knee length socks. Shoes were black in a particular style with a light brown sole and heel but all black ones crept in. They couldn't be shiny leather of course because as we all know shiny leather shoes allow boys to see up girls' dresses. Older girls were apparently encouraged to wear tights rather than socks but as they had to be a yucky 'natural' colour they just didn't look right with the rest of the uniform on most of the girls and they became increasingly less popular until only one or two girls in the sixth form bothered. Unlike the boys, the girls had a summer uniform with blouse, tie and kilt being replaced by a light blue summer dress in the official school pattern. There was also a change in supplier of these dresses and the new design was a slightly darker blue with a more abstract pattern on it. Again it was obvious who had a new dress and who had an old one.
Girls also had a defined P.E. kit, with all wearing a yellow short sleeved top and a blue skirt. They also had berets to correspond to the boys' caps.
The photography isn't up to much, but the 1978–1979 photo collection illustrates many of the features mentioned above.
Here we go beyond my knowledge of the subject. Many tell stories of Doris Staples' strict uniform checks and of girls rolling their waistbands up and down to change the length of their skirts or fibbing about the thickness of their tights, or of 'Harry' Hudson using a feeler gauge to check the clearance between boys' hair and their collars, and no doubt many more featuring other members of staff. However I just doesn't have the details and would welcome enlightenment…
Stephanie Allen (née Wright), who joined the school in September 1962, has started the ball rolling by contributing her memories of the girls' uniform of the time. When she joined the uniform included a navy 'gymslip' and a navy and gold striped tie (purchased from Wades of Edmonton or Pearsons of Enfield). However in September 1963 the uniform changed to include a kilt and a gold tie. The handmade kilt had to be purchased from McEwens of Perth and every year a man came down from Scotland to sell the kilts for 49 shillings and 11d. For those not familiar with 'old money' that is £2.50 which doesn't sound a lot these days but was a major expenditure back then (Stephanie made hers last a whole school career and indeed she still has it!). The Summer outfit was a blue and white gingham dress with full skirt and white revers.
The shoes that had to be worn were Clarks' 'Rosamund' shoes, which were black lace ups, and the girls had to wear thick beige stockings (tights weren't about for a couple of years). Berets had to be worn so that the badge was clearly visible, which was in conflict with the fashion to wear them as a 'pancake', and Doris Staples would always check for this and girls couldn't even relax out of school as she was known to drive along Bury Street West on her own way home! Kilts could be made shorter by rolling over the waistbands and as the Sixties progressed the hemlines rose. Naturally 'Doris' was up to the challenge and as the girls paraded out of the cloakrooms past her she was known prod them and say "are you funny round the middle, my child?".
Graham Reed writes about the Rowantree uniform: "The blazers and caps were dark green with red details, my own scarf which I still have is a bar type, not a college type, in green and red. All of the items of clothing that I had came from Wades, school outfitters, just south of Edmonton Green opposite the old Edmonton Town Hall and baths. The school 1st XI and 2nd XI football kit, which I also still have, consisted of old gold shirts with black trim (not yellow, but like that of Wolverhampton Wanderers), black shorts and old gold socks, and very smart it was to. Replica kits were allowed during games lessons and during this period Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United kits were all popular."
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