Brighton College re-introduced the wearing of boaters for its prefects in the summer of 2015, as a mark of respect to the school’s 149 old boys who fell in World War One. The pupils last wore the distinct blue and red-ribboned boaters back in 1969 when they had been a feature of the College uniform and well-recognised around Kemp Town for decades.
As uniform fashions changed, the school phased out the boaters. Richard Cairns, Head Master, decided to re-instate them as part of the College’s ‘Lest We Forget’ project which has seen pupils researching and commemorating each and every young man who studied at Brighton College before leaving to fight in the Great War. At the time the boater was common place “We are designing a war memorial that is a statue of a sixth former leaving the college never to return and is based on an original photograph. Looking through our archive photographs the pupils of the time all sported the traditional Brighton boater. This prompted some sixth formers to suggest that perhaps we could commemorate the dead by reviving an item of dress with which they would have been very familiar. Hence, we are reintroducing the boaters for the prefects and as optional items for all members of the Upper Sixth. Given that Brighton is officially Britain’s sunniest city, they will also serve as useful protection against the Sussex sun!” Richard Cairns.
The boater formed part of the recent display by the Brighton College Archives – A History of Brighton in 50 Objects – and a wonderful podcast was made by Deputy Head of School, Frederick Dimbleby.. about a boater donated by OB Charles Zarb (Du. 1946-49).