The Costume and Textile Collection consists of around 900 objects, the majority of which are items of railway uniform from the original Great Western era to the modern First Great Western period of the 2000s.
The uniform collection comprises coats, jackets, waistcoats, trousers, caps, shirts and ties belonging to station staff, enginemen and other workmen. The uniform collection is complimented by an excellent array of individual buttons, fabric lapel badges and cap badges.
The first road motor vehicle used by the GWR entered service in 1902. It was a Thornycroft lorry and worked at Hockley in Birmingham. The fleet of road motor vehicles quickly expanded. The GWR owned all types of vehicles including buses, tricycles, cattle trucks, mechanical horses and articulated lorries.
Drivers of the GWR’s road motor vehicles were issued with their own uniforms. In the early days of road motor transport the cabs were often exposed so drivers would wear heavy greatcoats to keep warm. Even when cabs were fully enclosed there was no internal heating for the winter months.
Our greatcoat dates from about 1910. It belonged to Mr Gilkes who worked in the Wolverhampton area driving a wide range of road vehicles for the GWR. The coat is made of wool and it has leather arms and cuffs. The coat is very sturdy and ideal for the rough work encountered by road motor drivers. For drivers, like Mr Gilkes, work also included basic vehicle maintenance and the loading of goods or luggage.
STEAM holds a large selection of buttons that come from various Great Western (including pre-grouping companies) and British Railways uniforms. The buttons reflect the changing styles of these companies and are therefore easy to date.
The buttons in the collection are typically made of brass, with some made of gilt metal, nickel and even horn. The majority of buttons carry the GWR initials or BR lettering, but some carry the GWR coat of arms or British Rail arrow symbol.
Buttons of particular note are those that came from the GWR Marine Department. These are embossed with the GWR initials and an anchor.
This jacket is a rare example of a piece of uniform used on the Great Western and London, Midland & Scottish Joint Railway. It dates from about 1910.
Although the GWR and LMS were separate companies they came together to have joint running powers on certain parts of the railway network.
The jacket is made from serge and has buttons and badges marked with both the GW and LMS initials.
This uniform was worn by a female member of the Refreshment Department staff. It dates from between 1934 and 1947.
Most stations had refreshment rooms, with larger stations also having mobile tea trollies. This overall is likely to have been worn by a member of staff serving from a trolley. It fitted over a woman’s clothes and prevented her from getting dirty should anything spill.
The overall is lightweight and plain, but still carries the GWR roundel logo on both the collars.