Jacket, Overall, Green

In 1962 the British Army introduced a new work uniform to replace the denims that had been in service since before World War II. This was the ‘overall, green’ uniform made of a heavy duty green cotton. Although designed as work wear, it was a popular choice for combat uniform in the summer months in preference to the heavy 1960 pattern uniform. The uniform was very shortly lived, being obsolete by 1971-72 and in that time a variation made of poly-cotton was also introduced. Tonight however we are looking at the standard cotton jacket, officially titled the ‘jacket, overall, green’:imageThis jacket is a simple single breasted garment, secured up the front by large green plastic buttons, hidden behind a fly:imageThe hiding of the buttons was presumably to protect them from snagging whilst the soldier was working. A pair of epaulettes was also provided, each fastened by a green plastic button (buttons missing on this example):imageA pair of patch pockets are sewn to the skirts of the jacket, each cut with the flap on an angle:imageInside the jacket a draw string at the waist allows some adjustment so that it is not completely shapeless:imageA third, interior, pocket is also provided:imageThis is where the manufacturer’s label is sewn:imageFrom this we can see that this jacket dates to 1963 and is a size 5. Richard Emms Ltd seems to have been a clothing company in existence until 1991. I have found the following description of the factory in the period this jacket was manufactured:

In 1955 Jenny Clarke started working as a machinist at Emms, she also now lives in Scole. In those days the toll bridge was operated by Mrs Reeve the 1d. (old penny) foot or cycle charge was waived for Mill employees. At that time the old mill was used for storage of imported rolls of fabric, packing and offices with most of the work being carried out in the new factory “over the road.”

This was a prefabricated building of no architectural merit but fitted out as a fully operational clothing factory powered by electricity direct to each machine.

Electric sewing machines were arranged in rows, the machinists operating a production line passing the item on for the next process. To the rear of the machinists, material was cut out, steam irons and presses were operated. In all when working flat out it was a noisy place but a happy factory with respect between staff and management.

Emms had factories at Diss (on Victoria Road now Ridgeons) and Wilby Road, Stradbrooke. Altogether they were major employers but as the 60’s drew to a close increased competition from the Far East was eating away at their margins they also found it difficult to recruit machinists.

In 1971: F.W. Harmer & Co. Norwich bought the whole of Emms business. Harmers, who were well aware the business was in decline, introduced the latest management techniques. The time & motion man appeared along with his stop watch. The clothing boxes were replaced with a rail, staff bonuses suffered. But they struggled on until December 1989 when F.W. Harmer closed down Syleham with the loss of 100 jobs.

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