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October 17th, 2010 admin

What jobs did men do before WW1?

I'm going to do a recruitment day re-enaction thingy soon at school but I need to create a background for myself and stuff so can anyone tell me what sort of jobs men would have just before the war/shortly after the start. Also, can you tell me what they would wear because we have to have costume. The only one I can think of is farmer, but loads of people are already doing that and I want to be a bit different.

Just to go by my own family: shopkeeper, shop assistant, bookseller, carman (driver of a horse and cart hauling goods), iron moulder, docker, painter and decorator, paperhanger, shipwright, collier, railway signalman, schoolteacher, policeman, weaver, factory hand, gardener, coachman, blacksmith, publican, mariner, professional soldier, butcher, tailor, bricklayer, stone mason, chimney sweep, bus conductor, lamp lighter (each street gas light had to be individually lit), bailliff, bank teller, bank manager, tinker (itinerant mender of metal pots and pans and sharpener of knives), civil servant, station master, university lecturer, fireman, postman, carpenter, plumber, gamekeeper..
As to costume: except for a few elderly and overly traditional agricultural workers who might still be in smocks, and those jobs requiring a uniform, almost everyone wore a coat and weskit (spelled waistcoat). Heads were always covered, by flat caps for the workers, bowler hats for the middle class, and high silk hats for the toffs, at least on formal occasions. Workingmen wore boots and had a belt and buckle to hold up their trowsers (which might be of moleskin for very heavy duty), the middle classes depended on braces. All trower flies were fastened with buttons. Shirts only had a few buttons at the neck and so had to be put on over the head. The middle class had detachable starched collars, secured with studs, and, unlike all other garments, changed daily. The less respectable of the working class would have scarves instead. Socks were held up with suspenders from garters around the calf. Sailors and some other outdoor workers might have knitted pullovers instead of weskits. Wrist watches were an invention of the early 20th century and still confined to the well off. Most men who could afford it would have a pocket watch hung on a chain from a weskit buttonhole, Middle class men wore kid(skin) gloves almost as often as their women folk. The more fashionable would carry a cane, walking stick or furled umbrella. Like London taxicabs, black was a favourite but not quite ubiquitous colour. .If you want to look a little different, be a gamekeeper and dress like Sherlock Holmes (do not forget the pipe!). .

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