Know Your School - Barker's Uniform
Monday, 4 May 2015
This week we take a look at uniforms worn by past and present generations of Barker students.

When Barker College was founded, there was no prescribed uniform. Instead, students wore age appropriate clothing, depending on the fashion of the day. Knickerbockers and jackets were common for junior boys, whilst the older students would wear Eton suits with a stiff colour. Right from these early days however, a navy and red hatband was available, the colours being adopted from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge where Headmaster Plume was once a student.

When the School moved from Kurrajong Heights to Hornsby in 1896, a navy, red and white wide striped blazer was introduced for sport on Saturday mornings only. By 1916 however, this blazer was replaced by the current navy and double red striped blazer. The College Barker (June 1916, p. 18) reported “The new blazer, with the double red stripe in now in use, and is distinctive without being too ‘blazery’. The boys are pleased with it, and Farmers reported a Barker invasion.”

In 1932, Headmaster Thorold introduced a dark grey suit for all students. In 1967, the suit changed from dark grey to mid grey, and the following year saw the introduction of the white shirt for senior boys. A special Sixth Form tie was introduced in 1970. It was not until 1975 with the enrolment of girls at Barker that the blazer became an everyday uniform item. The current navy blazer with red trim worn by Middle School students was introduced in 1986.

From Barker’s beginnings, a straw boater with a navy and red striped hat band was worn by students travelling to and from school. A grey felt has was also introduced in 1915, followed by the baggy blue cap for Junior School students in the mid-1940s. Each style of headwear was acceptable until the boater was made compulsory in 1951, followed by the Junior School baggy blue cap in 1955. With the radical hairstyles of the 1970s, the boater was gradually phased out, and by 1978 it was abolished altogether. The baggy blue cap is still worn by Junior School students today.

For a period of 20 years, beginning in 1975, Barker girls wore what was affectionately known as the ‘potato sack’ – a grey princess line tunic with a white blouse. Worn all year round, the tunic was complimented in winter by a red jumper and the striped blazer. A red bow tie was added in 1990.

In 1995, the tunic was replaced by a grey pleated skirt, a short sleeve blouse with red trim and the Senior School tie. Even though this uniform brought a welcome change to the ‘potato sack’, impracticalities in the design led to it being abandoned at the end of the decade. 

The current girls’ uniform was designed by Jonathan Ward and was unveiled in 2000 with the arrival of girls in Year 10. The uniform consists of a navy, red and white striped dress with a navy blazer in summer and a navy skirt, white blouse, Senior School tie and striped blazer for winter. Optional extras include a red jumper and navy scarf.

Whatever the style or colour, Barker students have, and continue to, wear their uniform with pride.

Caption: Uniforms from Barker's past (L-R): Charles Coffey dressed in an Eton suit and straw boater in 1909 and Barker girls dressed in the 'potato sack' in 1986.