Wessex Film and Sound Archive

Henry Thornton, tailor and breeches maker

Henry Thornton had his own premises in Winchester and his shop window once displayed the arms of local families who patronised the business, generation after generation. The difference between modern factory-made suits and bespoke tailoring was exemplified by Mr Thornton, who saw himself as 'extending the personality of the client'. To this end, he would take at least 23 measurements of his customer, and would guide him gently in his choice of pattern or style, if necessary, based upon experience and observation of his figure and deportment.

Listen to the recording

Henry Thornton
In the 50 years that I have been associated with the trade, the cloth position has altered enormously. Cloths when I started were very heavy. Now, because of improved conditions in housing, and one's car is heated, one doesn't need to wear such heavy garments and, of course, cloths are so much lighter.

 

Listen to the recording

Henry Thornton
After the first fitting, the garment is taken to pieces and the pattern is got down so that, should the customer order again, one can go to a second fitting, which is saving of time and also gives the customer a better appreciation of the finished garment, and it's more satisfactory.

 

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John Norwood
What are the particular tools and pieces of equipment which are used?

Henry Thornton
The first thing that comes to one's mind is, of course, the tape measure, and that is followed - probably - by the shears, and then there are various yardsticks as you would call them, but this [tool shown to JN] is a graduated square: it works almost like a slide rule and [tells us] the proportions we need when we are drafting the pattern, and this decides for us where the arm hole comes, where the neck point comes, which are all found by a prescribed system which one learnt when one's young at Cutting School.'

 
 
Henry Thornton, tailor and breeches maker

References

  • WFSA tape ref. AV6/M72
  • Hampshire Museums Service reference: P.1974.1057/13
  • Hampshire Photographic Project reference: TD695-34