James Lock & Co, a family-owned company in St James Street, Mayfair, is a famous hatter which has been making hats for the British gentleman since 1676. Then, in the late 19th century a man called Coke requested a practical hat for his gamekeepers. He wanted a hat that wouldn’t get caught in trees – possibly curved. He also wanted it strong to protect the gamekeepers from any blows from poachers. He produced a rough design for the family to work from. When he collected it he took it out onto the street and jumped on it, to ensure it was satisfactory. Not long afterwards a company called Bowler Bros started producing these hats in large numbers – hence bowler hats!
And ‘mad as a hatter’? Mercury was used in the felting process, which made hat makers a bit strange!
Dawn Denton ©