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Banburyshire Family History

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go back to the last page you were on Utility, The Mother of Invention


To my son its PacMan, but to me its the Utility Mark. As soon as all the fathers were in military uniform, 'them in power' commenced, for economic reasons, a programme to effectively put civilians into uniform. To control manufacturing cost and purchase price the CC41 logo was created to cover a range of utility clothing. A utility style garment was easy to identify, and today would be heralded as a minimalist fashion. Men's shirts lost their tails; trouser pockets almost disappeared; double-breasted jackets became collector's items; and pleats in ladies' skirts were reduced to a token appearance. In a dramatic bid to forestall MFI, a range of utility furniture was later announced.

The first effect of this programme was an upsurge in domestic skills. Not since Victorian days had society contained so many dress makers, and almost every house in the street had a Singer sewing machine. The most common design, treadle powered, could swing down and away when not in use; and when covered by a hinged flap, produced a stylish workstation for small boys working artistically on bus ticket rolls.

Fortunately, society had not yet decided that teen years should be the fulcrum point of direction and behaviour. Most items of clothing were patched, maybe dyed a different colour, and passed on to another family level. Girls' dresses could be 'run up' (how easy that sounds) on the sewing machine, and most households had a lending library of sewing and knitting patterns. I can still see Mum now, giant pair of scissors and a mouth full of pins.

A chap's clothes however were usually hand-me-downs, which meant that youths of eighteen years old could be seen wearing a strange form of baggy shorts, topped by a jumper knitted from available balls of coloured wool. In later years I would have died rather than be seen in public dressed like that -- strange, that it is now high fashion for the same age group...

Written by Smokey