Bristol Welsh hat makers

There were many hat makers in Bristol, but only two, known as Carver and Co. Late Dale and Co. and Carver, Jefferis and Co., are known to have made Welsh hats. Very little information is recorded about these firms, other than extracts from trade directories (below).

At least 37 surviving hats with labels for Carver and Co. of Bristol are known to exist with another 15 probably made by them. All the vendor’s names are from Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire.

 

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32 Welsh hats with labels of Carver and Co. Late Dale and Co.

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2 Welsh hats are known with labels Carver and Co (Late Dale)

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3 Welsh hats are known with labels Carver, Jefferis and Co.

Distinctive features

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Ribbons at the base of the crown were known as hat-bands. They varied in fabric  (cotton, silk, flannel, velvet) but were almost always black. (There is no evidence to suggest that the black hat-band was a symbol of mourning – almost all surviving Welsh hats have broad black ribbons).  Several Welsh hats made by the Carver and Co. have broad flannel hat-bands between 7 and 8 cms wide without bows, suggesting that these came with the hat while others may well have been added by the owner, possibly replacing a band supplied with the hat.  (One Welsh hat made by Christys has a broad flannel hat band.)

 

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Welsh hats made by Carver and Co. also had crimson, gold or cream silk-covered head-bands (inside the crown) with either wavy or straight quilting.

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It is possible that it was Carver who made hats with diagonally striped cotton head-bands (none of the four seen have labels, but one has a broad flannel hat-band).

Date
Little is known of these firms. The following is from trade directories
Dale                                                                                                (Pigot, 1830)       not listed
Dale and Co,      Hatters   35 Wine Street                                (Robsons, 1840)
Dale, Thomas,   Hatter and Hat manufacturer   38 Montague Hill (home)  (Robsons, 1840)
Dale, Thomas,   Hatter and Hat manufacturer   Corn Street (shop)             (Robsons, 1840)
Dale and Co       Hatters                                            35 Wine Street      (Slater, 1850)
Dale and Co                                                                                      (Slater, 1858)      not listed
Dale                                                                                                    (Webster and Co, 1865)       not listed

Carver                                    (Pigot, 1830)       not listed
Carver                                    (Slater, 1850)      not listed
Carver, Henry D and Co    Hat manufacturer               35 Wine Street      (Slater, 1858)
Carver, H.D.,                        Hat manufacturer              35 Wine Street      (Matthew’s / Wright’s, 1863)

Carver, Jefferis and Co of Wine Street [Bristol]made a Welsh hat for Princess Beatrice in 1863 (see below)

Carver, Jefferis and Co    Hat and Cap manufacturer   35 Wine Street (Webster and Co   1865)
Carver, Jefferis and Co    Hat and Cap manufacturer   35 Wine Street (Matthew’s/Wright’s 1866)
Carver, Jefferis and Co    Hat and Cap manufacturer   35 Wine Street (Matthew’s/Wright’s 1868)
Carver and Jefferis           Hat manufacturer                   Castle Green,    (Matthew’s/Wright’s, 1871)
Carver, Jefferis and Co    Hat manufacturer                  Castle Green,    (Matthew’s/Wright’s, 1880)

Carver, Henry Dando and Son         Hat manufacturer   Castle Green,  (Matthew’s / Wright’s 1882)
Carver, Henry Dando and Son         Hat manufacturer   Castle Green,  (Matthew’s / Wright’s 1885)

From this, it appears that Carver took over Dale sometime between 1850 and 1858, and Carver was joined by Jefferis by 1863. There were many other hat makers in Bristol, but none, including Betty Bros (despite the statement below) are known to have made Welsh hats.

1863
PRINCE ARTHUR’S VISIT TO DOLGELLAU
The prince, following the example of the Queen, ordered a splendid dress of linsey Woolsey for his sister, the Princess Beatrice, a Welsh hat, shoes etc, with strict injunctions that the whole must be of Welsh material and make. The order has been completed and forwarded to the young princess after having been on view a day or two at Dolgellau. The Leeds Mercury, August 20, 1863
Mr Griffith of Dolgellau made the costume; Messrs Carver, Jefferis and Co of Wine Street [Bristol] made the hat.
The Bristol Mercury October 3, 1863

Messrs. Betty Bros. and Co.
THE HAT MAKING INDUSTRY IN BRISTOL.
Through the centuries Bristol has been associated with hatmaking and the current number of the British Journal of Commerce [can’t find this on line] , contains a most interesting and readable article describing the industry as carried on upon the extensive premises of Messrs. Betty Bros, and Co., in Victoria street, Bristol,
… The eminent firm of Messrs. Betty Bros. and Co. was founded at Bristol in 1868. It takes three men to make one high hat; and the various processes of manufacture are pleasantly described by the writer, who found on Messrs. Betty’s premises enough new hats to supply all Bristol. The out of date old Welsh hats, which were formerly worn by the witches of the historian’s imagination were first, and in fact always, made in Bristol, and from these down to the Pliable Consol Silk Hat, which is Messrs. Betty’s speciality, form a record of the wonderful advance in an important industry. [This might not be correct]
Evening Express, 7 November 1892

HIGH HATS AND BALD HEADS.—Ever since a hair-brained civilisation introduced a covering fur the head other than the matted one provided by nature, it has been the custom to wear hat-, cap-, or bonnets, according to the taste and sex of the wearer. Man had but little hair here below, but wore that little long, a custom which was seriously interfered with under the hat regime. The arrival of the hat brought in its train the steady deterioration of hair growing as a national crop. This is any thing but a bald statement of fact. The “crop” is no longer a thing of beauty or a joy for ever. It is only one of the works of State interference in force at Her Majesty’s prisons. Man has paid dearly for the introduction of the hat into civilisation, though the unkindest cut of all was the bonnet. Breathes there a married man to-day who does not think with a ravenous envy of the time when neither milliners nor hatters had a part in the national existence ? I trow not. Bristol has been associated with hat-making right through the centuries. Amongst the many firms in this country devoted to the production of high and low hats Messrs. Betty Bros. & Co., of Bristol, are well to the fore. This firm makes a speciality of a completed high hat, known as the “Pliable Consol,” which weighs no more than four ounces, and which could be sent, if a letter, through the post for twopence. So, if only because of the good work done, as the Turkish Bath of high hats, the workshops of Messrs. Betty are deserving of all the notice that can be given them. They have reduced the weight of the high hat, and it must lie lightly upon their corporate conscience. The hat has hitherto been created as if the head was made to fit it and not it the head. Now there is a great difference in heads, in their formation, as well as in their value as constructive mechanisms. Messrs. Betty appear to be aware of this, and they give fits with their hats accordingly. Evidently, if high hats are to be worn, they had best be worn with ease. To the many dreadful things for the responsibility of which the high hat is held accountable must be added that of bald head conducing. If there were no high hats there would be no bald heads, but, on the other hand, if there were no heads there would be no hats.- Verb. sap.
Cambrian, 25 November 1892
[This article, in a Welsh newspaper, made no reference to the firm making Welsh hats.]

Further Reading

Hat making in Bristol (accessed 6.11.2015)

Trade Directory: The Ports of the Bristol Channel (1893), contains considerable information of the history and activities of the Betty Bros and Co., hat makers at 28/30 Victoria Street.