Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

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Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

Postby Josh&Historyland » 27 Jan 2018 18:58

It is deuced difficult to find any reliable info on HM's sea service in the years between 1855 and 1870. I'm trying to discover what the Navy, especially officers, would use over their uniforms in a gale (eastern/China station). Could anyone point me in the right direction? Josh.
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Re: Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

Postby ED, in Los Angeles » 12 Feb 2018 04:27

Can someone inform us all when the Royal Navy officially uniformed the ordinary seaman? That may get us started as I do believe I have some answers/or not!
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Re: Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

Postby Josh&Historyland » 12 Feb 2018 04:47

There's quite allot of uniformity in pictures I've seen on Crimean crews, but they all wear sailor shirts and wide trousers etc rather than foul weather gear. I'd guess at unfirming the hands by 1850, and most certainly by 1860 judging by the studio photos I've seen.
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Re: Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

Postby Mark A. Reid » 12 Feb 2018 15:32

It was not until the introduction of Continuous Service ( CS ) that the Admiralty began to issue a standard seaman's uniform to New Entries in 1857. In the beginning it was only issued to men/boys signing on for their first term of CS but sailors already serving under Non-Continuous Service agreements must have begun to receive the " new " uniform shortly afterwards, if only for the sake of uniformity.

I am currently away from my books but the published Seaman's Handbook and Navy Lists often included a scale of issue for the various groups within the RN; Men Dressed as Seamen, Men Not Dressed as Seamen, etc. I would imagine that some sort of foul weather gear was eventually issued to the Lower Deck, although how much it was actually worn by men scrambling aloft is another issue entirely.

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Re: Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

Postby Josh&Historyland » 12 Feb 2018 21:06

What of officers?
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Re: Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

Postby Frogsmile » 13 Feb 2018 13:18

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Josh&Historyland wrote:What of officers?


Josh, I have noticed that you are currently focussing on a number of questions relating to the Royal Navy and I wondered if you are aware of the following two websites:

1. P.Benyon. This is a labour of love to digitise and post as many RN regulations as could be found, including uniform over the years since their introduction and the discontinuance of 'slops': http://www.pbenyon.plus.com/Naval.html#Uniform_RN

N.B. At the bottom of the page look out for: "Miscellaneous including some extracts from 19th century newspapers."

2. GodfreyDykes. This too is a labour of love and focuses on the evolution of RN ranks, uniforms, including a special section on the Royal Navy Warrant Officer, as well as much else. The layout is a bit eccentric, but it's worth persevering: http://www.godfreydykes.info/NAVY%20PAGE%20OPTIONS.htm

Proper, purpose designed foul weather clothing was not issued to ratings until shortly before WW1 and prior to that they had to make do with their issue woollen clothing, the style according to rank, and layered as needs must, supplemented by canvas work clothing coated in tar from the ships stores (it's from this practice that they got the nickname 'Jack Tar'). Officers, just like their Army equivalents, purchased their own foul weather clothing from private tailors and outfitters, the most famous of which being Gieves (of Gieves and Hawkes fame). As they did not 'parade' in this uniform there was no strict requirement to follow a particular style, but anything new, effective and de rigeur would soon gain favour and more junior officers would endeavour to emulate their seniors. MacIntosh products, Sou’westers/oilskins, for example, became a favourite: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mackintosh and was made up in various styles, including boat cloaks, which were also made in tightly woven and water-proofed wool. Greatcoats, often called a ‘Watchcoat’ (and much later ‘bridge coats’ (an Americanism I believe)) were also popular.
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Re: Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

Postby jf42 » 14 Feb 2018 13:04

DId what we today call 'Guernsey' and 'Jersey' sweaters not originate as waterproof 'jumpers' for local fisherman. Were there equivalents for RN sailors, or are we talking only of woven cloth jackets?

Are 'Pea coat' and 'reefer jacket' - staple of my student days- also equivalent terms for Watch Coat?
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Re: Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

Postby Frogsmile » 16 Feb 2018 13:52

jf42 wrote:DId what we today call 'Guernsey' and 'Jersey' sweaters not originate as waterproof 'jumpers' for local fisherman. Were there equivalents for RN sailors, or are we talking only of woven cloth jackets?

Are 'Pea coat' and 'reefer jacket' - staple of my student days- also equivalent terms for Watch Coat?


Woollen pullovers as we know them today do not seem to have been issued until late Victorian times and even then only for specialised roles, and in a relatively coarse worsted wool fashioned in a very simple (and thus cheap to make) T-shape. Hugely pragmatic (rather than the loving craftsmanship of a fisherman’s wife when knitting a ‘Gansey’), at a time when mass production for government contracts was in its infancy. More reliance seems to have been placed on layering, with underwear, the usual 'square rig' woollen jumper (with boat neck) and, if a senior rate, a buttoned jacket - single breasted for the lower rates - double breasted for the senior rates.

In the British RN Service the P-Coat was officially known as a 'Monkey Jacket' (often nicknamed 'bum-freezer), which appears to relate to the monkeys the seamen often kept as pets and dressed in hand stitched slops that frequently emulated naval dress. It was a finer, lighter (often doeskin) cloth jacket, rather than made of the heavy, Melton cloth associated with the P-coat for outer wear. They seem to have been also known in the civilian maritime world as reefer jackets. The common feature for the design was the very short cut so as not to impede swift movement up and around the rigging. The equivalent to the heavy P-coat for British sailors (in much later decades) was the far cheaper (but longer length) Duffel Coat. The earlier ‘Watch Coat’ was most commonly a greatcoat (but with integrated cape) that enveloped almost the full body, and was thus much longer than a P-coat. The same kind of garment as worn by coachmen and postilions in inclement weather.

N.B. " People were dressing up monkeys well before the infamous organ grinder. It seems that it was fashionable in the 17th & 18th centuries to dress up monkeys, they were found in shows (menageries), sailors would capture them and bring them on board as pets. Once aboard and out of their normal climate, they necessarily needed to be clothed and sailors were handy with needle and thread. A short jacket and pants for the monkey appeared to be the thing. Certainly not proof, but there are many stories of monkeys in the French and British navies as on board pets."
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Re: Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

Postby Frogsmile » 16 Feb 2018 14:10

“Here is a Boat cloak of navy wool, Circa 1836, lined in the front with black twill silk. The cloak is gathered at the shoulders into a high standing collar. The collar is reinforced and stiffened with rows of running stitch on the exterior and has a plush lining. The cloak originally fastened at the base of the collar with an eye and tape. There are two cast-gilt base metal bosses on either side of the collar.”

N.B. This simple, effective, easily procured and thus ubiquitous garment is by far the most common foul weather option for officers in the 1840s.
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Re: Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

Postby Frogsmile » 16 Feb 2018 14:21

An officer’s undress, 'round jacket' and linen waistcoat (replaced by dark wool for cold weather) were typical working garments for the 1840s.

Photos are courtesy of the National Maritime Museum.
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Re: Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

Postby Frogsmile » 16 Feb 2018 14:36

To put things into perspective, here is a series of images showing typical foul and cold weather clothing for petty officer rates of the same era.

The clothing, coated with either tar (especially leather hats) or wax oil (canvas), was made up (by hand) from old canvas cloth from ships stores and foretells the famously British, 'Barbour' type clothing so favoured by those working outdoors in later years. Notice the complete absence of buttons from these loose fitting garments that were fastened using simple tapes and knots (often a reef knot).
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Re: Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

Postby Mark A. Reid » 17 Feb 2018 01:27

What great information and images you always seem to uncover, Frogsmile!

Whilst still away from my books at the moment, I was intrigued to try and uncover just when waterproof clothing was issued to ratings. The 1910 Dress Regulations for the nascent Royal Canadian Navy were apparently drawn almost word-for-word from the 1897 Royal Navy publication. In the former, it only lists waterproof raincoat and sou'wester ( hat ) as " Optional " and " Not Gratuitous " for Chiefs, Petty Officers and Men Dressed like Seamen. It would appear that the issue greatcoat and, perhaps a limited number of duffle coats, were considered sufficient for hardy tars?

When I think back about a million years to my time in a sailor suit in the mid-1970's, the issue raincoat was rarely worn at sea, usually being reserved for standing watch in harbour when little or no exertion was required. In the days before GORETEX the slightest movement whilst wearing the " slicker, " as we called it, produced a waterfall of perspiration ( My apologies for being so graphic ) and a cloud of steam would arise from the collar when opened. I wonder if Victorian seamen eschewed rubber-coated waterproof garments because they were just too hot to wear when exerting themselves?

Cheers,

Mark
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Re: Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

Postby ED, in Los Angeles » 17 Feb 2018 03:45

Hey Frogsmile. I like your advert you posted for the "Boat-Cloke" or "Cloke-Boat". I think you read the advert as "Boat coat".
If an officer is going to stand on the quarter deck in this outfit, he better have his paddle, umbrella-sail, and bellows to make his outfit complete.
Your advert is below as well as a link to this magnificent piece of clothing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halkett_boat
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Re: Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

Postby Frogsmile » 17 Feb 2018 09:13

ED, in Los Angeles wrote:Hey Frogsmile. I like your advert you posted for the "Boat-Cloke" or "Cloke-Boat". I think you read the advert as "Boat coat".
If an officer is going to stand on the quarter deck in this outfit, he better have his paddle, umbrella-sail, and bellows to make his outfit complete.
Your advert is below as well as a link to this magnificent piece of clothing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halkett_boat


Hello Ed, I’m glad that I gave you a laugh. :lol: I should have explained the adverts inclusion in the post. I did realise that it referred to a cloak boat, my intent/rationale was really just to show that waterproofed products by Macintosh, and India Rubber in general were very much a part of the maritime scene even quite early on.
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Re: Royal Navy Foul/wet weather gear/oilskins 1860.

Postby Frogsmile » 17 Feb 2018 09:19

Mark A. Reid wrote:What great information and images you always seem to uncover, Frogsmile!

Whilst still away from my books at the moment, I was intrigued to try and uncover just when waterproof clothing was issued to ratings. The 1910 Dress Regulations for the nascent Royal Canadian Navy were apparently drawn almost word-for-word from the 1897 Royal Navy publication. In the former, it only lists waterproof raincoat and sou'wester ( hat ) as " Optional " and " Not Gratuitous " for Chiefs, Petty Officers and Men Dressed like Seamen. It would appear that the issue greatcoat and, perhaps a limited number of duffle coats, were considered sufficient for hardy tars?

When I think back about a million years to my time in a sailor suit in the mid-1970's, the issue raincoat was rarely worn at sea, usually being reserved for standing watch in harbour when little or no exertion was required. In the days before GORETEX the slightest movement whilst wearing the " slicker, " as we called it, produced a waterfall of perspiration ( My apologies for being so graphic ) and a cloud of steam would arise from the collar when opened. I wonder if Victorian seamen eschewed rubber-coated waterproof garments because they were just too hot to wear when exerting themselves?

Cheers,

Mark


Thanks Mark, as you know there’s usually relevant information out there, it’s a matter of finding it. You make a very good point (as you also did in your earlier post above) about trying to work when encumbered and enclosed in rubber, and with the physicality and nimbleness required of sail ships crewmen I doubt that the ‘slickers’ were favoured other than when static on watch duty. For most officers however, it would of course have been a different matter.
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