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Dockside Dandies back in spotlight

PUBLISHED: 10:48 30 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:31 05 July 2010

Bryan Scott and Keith Reynolds in 1957

Bryan Scott and Keith Reynolds in 1957

FOR many months now Turning Back the Clock has been keeping a close eye on one London-based artist's efforts to find out more on a distinctive late 50s and early 60s fashion craze.

Now Peter Wylie's search for information has reached national radio.

Peter Wylie and Chris Breward being interviewed by BBC reporter Dylan Winters

FOR many months now Turning Back the Clock has been keeping a close eye on one London-based artist's efforts to find out more on a distinctive late 50s and early 60s fashion craze.

It was back in July when former Lowestoft resident Peter Wylie first contacted the Journal.

He remembered a time when fishermen in Lowestoft used to walk around town in unique suits, as they each tried to outshine each other in colours ranging from tartan to lime green and vivid yellow to bright red.

Following his progress with a number of articles we have seen how interest has grown on the subject, as former wearers and tailors of the flamboyant suits came forward to speak with him.

Earlier this month Peter moved his quest for information on another stage as he appeared on BBC Radio 4's Making History programme.

In April he travelled back to Lowestoft to be interviewed alongside former Lawrence Green shop assistant Joe Neve, suit buyer Trevor Durrant and Ashley Gardiner, who still owns one of the suits today.

On Tuesday, May 13, the programme, which regularly attracts two million listeners, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Peter described the response to the airing as “very illuminating and positive” as many listeners sent in their thoughts.

“They suggest a similar fashion was happening amongst the young trawlermen in Hull, Grimsby and Fleetwood,” he said.

One listener emailed: “In the early sixties I lived in Fleetwood, Lancashire, which was then a major fishing port. Most of the lads had one ambition - to get a 'Deckie' suit.

“These were bell-bottomed, with pleated jackets, usually made in pastel pinks and blues.”

Several listeners from Grimsby also recalled fishermen wearing pleated jackets and bell bottomed trousers in dark blues, browns and pastel colours, while in Hull they were also dressing flamboyantly.

“They looked ridiculous to us land lubbers but no one seemed inclined to tell them so,” said one listener.

Days later Peter travelled with reporter Dylan Winters to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, where they spoke to Chris Breward, head of research at the museum, and a specialist in the history of fashion.

They showed him a number of images including this one of Bryan Scott and Keith Reynolds near Lowestoft's South Pier in their dark pin-stripe and powder blue suits from about 1957.

“He really enjoyed seeing the images and hearing the way the Dockside Dandies fashion craze had developed in Lowestoft,” said Peter.

“It was the sheer explosion of colours and colour combinations that gave the Lowestoft look it uniqueness, that, plus the details and customising of features like pockets and buttons. He had never seen anything like this and gave his verdict that the Dockside Dandies style was unique in this country.

If you have any photos or memories of the town's distinctive fashion craze, contact Peter at 104 Old Ford Road, Bethnal Green, London, E2 9PW; telephone 0208 980 1120, e-mail eastofwylie@yahoo.com or call Andrew Kitchen on 01502 523636.

For more information on Peter's artwork and to listen to a sample of his interviews visit www.peter-wylie.com and for details on the Radio 4 show visit www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/making_history/

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