English Childhood: Barbara--Leggings and Clogs (1940s)

Figure 1.--

Barbara tells us about her experiences with leggings (githers). "I was looking on Google to see what there was re gaiters as I`m trying to put my mothers side of the family into a real life story for my family. Gaiters were part of it. I was born in 1937, in South East England. My Mum came from the North of England [Lancashire]. I now realise that many of the clothes my sister and I wore came from Mums relatives and were handed down to us during and after World War II. Mums half-sister is only 5 years. older than me so I was first in line for her blouses and dresses. Always old fashioned by the time I wore them! She`s recently reminded me about wearing gaiters .Mind you, I think we knew them as leggings. Reading your notes I can tell my leggings must have been in the family for decades as none of my friends had any! Ours were soft leather with little buttons up to the knees and straps under our feet but they still felt stiff to lively children. Mum did them up with a button hook! They may have been an off-shoot of the family tripe business early last century, although I was told that the cows skin was usually thrown away! At least they helped to fill the gap between shoes & skirts in cold weather but soon grew very tight as you grew bigger. We also had clogs sent to us by my Grandpa in Rochdale, Lancs.solid,hard leather with a strap over the foot,wooden soles with metal horse shoes on the soles & heels. Very heavy and noisy as I tried to tiptoe slowly to school. I was always late! Not only that.Mum had siren suits made for us like Winston Churchill wore. Warm,navy blue, thick,itchy wool. Not a garment you should go out in when it rained! In fact I don`t think there was anything you could keep dry in outside when it rained. The hood,sleeves & ankles had one button on the cuffs .Buttons all down the front.I don`t think zips were sold in our small country town yet. Can you imagine me trying to get out of the suit & clogs without help or a button hook?I was sitting in the cloakroom every morning at school with other pupils marching out of Assembly looking at me sitting crying .There was no way of getting out of the suit without getting the clogs off and I needed help for that. I was so glad when I grew out of these outfits when the war was over. My wide feet have never recovered!

I should emphasize that most of the rest of my childhood was fun as I was brought up 'over the shop' with no garden. I was allowed free rein a lot.


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Created: 8:23 PM 10/24/2014
Last updated: 4:01 PM 10/26/2014