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Thread: RAF Outfitters

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    Senior Member TOB's Avatar
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    Default RAF Outfitters

    Searching through some old 6x4 prints last night I came across this one I took in the early 1990s of Eric Bedford's 'RAF Outfitters' shop on Castlegate, Newark. I think the reason for me photographing it was that Eric was retiring and closing the shop which also coincided with a lack of trade as several local airfields were earmarked for closure.

    Question 1: Newton, Syerston and Swinderby were no doubt his main client base, but does anyone know if he would have got some trade from further afield, such as Cranwell, Scampton, Waddington, Finningley?

    Question 2: Does anyone know of any other RAF Outfitters (past or present) around the UK, or was Eric's shop unique?
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    Default Re: RAF Outfitters

    Certainly in the last 25 years most large stations had a tailors shop; private companies who held a contract for altering service issue uniforms and who also stocked certain items. Mess dress could be made to measure etc etc. The one at Leuchars was a branch of a firm that had been at Cranwell for many year called Snaith. see attached link.
    http://www.ecsnaith.com/mess_dress_centres.html

    TED

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    Senior Member PETERTHEEATER's Avatar
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    Default Re: RAF Outfitters

    Ted, I thought you shopped at the Fifty Shilling Tailor

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    Default Re: RAF Outfitters

    I do its called George !!!

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    Default Re: RAF Outfitters

    I really wish I had seen that RAF outfitters shop in Newark

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    Default Re: RAF Outfitters

    Cranwell also had a tailors called Dewhirsts.

    As for the tailoring shops, dont forget that even today officers have to buy all their blue uniforms, and Warrant Officers and SNCOs their mess kit so there is still some trade to be had.

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    Senior Member kebecker's Avatar
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    Default Re: RAF Outfitters

    I remember peering through the window of the Castlegate shop in the 80's , it was very near to a chippy I would stop at on my travels.

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    Default Re: RAF Outfitters

    Quote Originally Posted by canberra View Post
    Cranwell also had a tailors called Dewhirsts.

    As for the tailoring shops, dont forget that even today officers have to buy all their blue uniforms, and Warrant Officers and SNCOs their mess kit so there is still some trade to be had.
    Dewhirsts made my WO No 1 uniform, quality was outstanding. I got half drowned at the 91 airshow and had to get my No 1 replaced, went to the factory in Leeds for a fitting; what an unbelievable place, thousands of uniforms in production. I expect they struggle now few police or fire have a proper uniform.

    TED

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    Default Re: RAF Outfitters

    So far we have only scratched the surface on this topic. All of the initial officer training units had resident 'outfitters'. These firms had premises on site operating outside the normal station tailering contract available through Clothing Stores. At Henlow, the Officer Cadet Training Unit, for example there was Moss Bros and others. The Officer Cadets were required to get No 1 Uniform and have it ready for the day of graduation, so that they could graduate in their new uniform. If they failed to graduate the outfitter would retain the uniform in the hope that someone of the same shape and size would come along in the next entry.

    Outfitters were in residence at Cranwell, including Moss Bros and Dewhirst. The latter did a good job on officer No 1s (a bit like Marks & Sparks when compared to Moss Bros) and officers from across the RAF would visit Cranwell to get measured up. I seem to remember that Snaiths also had a shop on camp at Brawdy, which was a life-saver in remote West Wales.

    Eric Bedford in Newark, on the other hand, did an excellent line in 'pre-owned' uniforms and people retiring from the RAF would often sell their redundant uniforms to him. In particular, Eric was a good source of officers' greatcoats, and I bought one from him for conversion to 'British Warm' style, which made an excellent winter overcoat for civvy use. To make a 'British Warm', the standard greatcoat had the mid-back belt removed, buttons changed and it was shortened to just above the knee. I seem to think that it cost me about 25 to buy and about half that to have it converted. Moreover, I still have it although the waistline is seriously challenged these days. A high quality overcoat for less than forty quid - hey!

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    Senior Member PETERTHEEATER's Avatar
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    Default Re: RAF Outfitters

    Quote Originally Posted by kebecker View Post
    I remember peering through the window of the Castlegate shop in the 80's , it was very near to a chippy I would stop at on my travels.
    Thank goodness you put the 'r' in peering

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