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Age: How Old Was I When I Started Work

Clothes: What I Wear at Work


"Obviously all the PP, Personal protective equipment, needed to be issued the first day we arrived. On my first day I remember following my manager around the stores. I got piled with two pairs of wool trousers, a jacket, a helmet, a pair of shoes, glasses and I couldn't see where I was going I had that much protective clothing on me."

A Young Sheffield steel worker wearing a protective hat and goggles, sticking his thumbs up.
Young Sheffield Steel Worker in Protective Uniform


"Once you got in you came into normal clothing and then changed into working clothing. Which as Dave said was a sweat towel; you know a working shirt and clogs. Which you had to buy yourself. All the older guys used to have big macs on didn’t they and flat caps. It was like looking at old photographs of the match isn’t it.

Steel Worker Operating a Steel Press in 1950s.  He wears a suit and flatcap.
Steel Worker Operating a Steel Press in 1950s

There’s a bridle chain what you used to push with your hands and that, and everybody what wore a flat hat they never had gloves they used to just take their hat off and used that to push chain like, you know. I mean bearing in mind there was no free issue clothing then for work and you had to buy your own boots and all your working clothes. You'd beg steal and borrow from everyone you knew. If you've got any old clothes let me have them and I’ll use them for work."


Victorian Times

"When I asked what people wear at work, John Smith aged 15 said ‘the boys in the rolling mill often get burnt legs. This wares their trousers but does not hurt them much. They wear aprons for burning steel."

Sepia photograph of five Victorian steelworkers.  They are wearing waistcoats and some have flat caps
Victorian Steelworkers



  • Which steel worker wears the most protective clothing?
  • How has the clothing changed over the different time periods?
  • Which pieces of protective equipment do you think are the most important for the steel workers and why?