Mans Brown Leather Trench Coat

Contributed by: National Institute of Dramatic Art

Leather trench coat front view Charles Stanly Braybon at Bathurst driving in a sidecar race in 1939 Stanley Charles Braybon wearing the leather trench coat 1929 Leather coat welt pocket detail Leather coat front detail Leather coat cuff detail Leather coat side view Leather coat collar and revere Leather trench coat back view Leather trench coat front view  Leather deterioration on the coat shoulder Leather coat under collar damage Leather coat lining repair right side Leather coat pocket repair left side Mould on the lining of the leather coat Rebecca Clark, Robyn Murphy and Christie Milton presenting the coat at the Powerhouse Museum History Week event. Newspaper articles about Stanley Braybon's races
  • Australian dress register ID:

    490
  • Owner:

    National Institute of Dramatic Art
  • Owner registration number:

    ID 490
  • Date range:

    1915 - 1925
  • Place of origin:

    unknown
  • Gender:

    Male
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Object information

Significance statement

This classic leather trench coat is typical of those worn by men in the early 20th Century. Trench coats were developed in the first word war to be worn by allied soldiers as a windbreaker and raincoat. They were made of leather or the newly invented cotton gabardine, a tough, tightly woven, water resistant fabric. After the war many veterans kept their trench coats and the style became fashionable with the wider community.

This example has the classic features of a trench coat; 2 rows of buttons, wide lapels, raglan sleeves with a wrist strap, angled welt pockets and a buckled belt. It is made of thick leather, is double breasted and can be buttoned all the way up to the neck to protect against the wind and rain. It also has a press-studded tab on the outside of the cuff to tighten it at the wrist as well as an internal draw string.

We are fortunate to have an image of the coat’s original owner Stanley Charles Braybon wearing the coat in 1929 whilst riding his Rudge Whitworth 496c.c motorbike. Thought we don’t know where the coat was made, we know that Braybon was riding and racing around Sydney and regional NSW and in the photo he is on Kent Road, North Ryde, NSW, close to where he lived.

Stanley Charles Braybon was a motorcycling enthusiast who during the 1920s and 30s was a member of Western Suburbs and Ashfield Motorcycling club and became president of Chatswood Motorcycle Club. He won many club races as a solo rider and with a sidecar. Leather trench coats or shorter leather jackets were the chosen protective clothing worn by motorcycle racers at the time and the trench coat’s popularity as protective wear continued into the second world war and beyond.

Ann Braybon, daughter of Stanley, kindly donated this coat to the NIDA Archive. The NIDA Archive is a collection of original clothes and accessories from the 19th and 20th centuries, used to further our student’s study of historical clothing. Students selected this coat to add to the Australian Dress Register for its significance as a classic garment and for its connection to the early years of the development of motorcycling. They also recognise that fewer men’s garments are preserved and recorded than women’s and the provenance connected to this coat adds to its interest.

Author: Annette Ribbons. Associate Lecturer Costume, National Institute of Dramatic Art. , 16/9/13 .

Description

Brown leather mans trench coat was originally owned by Australian Mr Stanley Charles Braybon

This is a dark brown cow hide leather coat with a khaki polished cotton twill weave lining. The body of the jacket is cut with a slight flare in 4 pieces with a raglan sleeve. The revere collar is cut with a separate stand at the neck. The lining is sewn into the leather all round but only attached to the outer leather coat at the hem with 3 fabric 35mm tabs at centre back and both side seam the lining seams are finely top stitched. 2 welt pockets at the hip level have internal access in the polished cotton lining.

The leather belt had 6 metal eyelets 3 of which are missing and a metal buckle, which was once covered in leather; a few remnants are still visible. The end of the belt is tapered to a point and the edges of the belt are double top stitched. There is a belt keeper and 2 belt loops of same leather and the loops are inserted through a slash in the jacket and then secured with topstitching in a triangular formation.

Down the front were 6 x 28mm buttons, but only 3 remain, all on the one side, one of them has an 18mm support button on the inside. The buttons have 4 holes in the top and are sewn on in a cross formation. The buttonholes are bound with same leather as the rest of the coat. There is one 18mm button at neck with bound buttonholes on the lapel to close the neck all the way up. The raglan sleeve is made of 3 pieces with a false cuff and wrist tab fastened with 2 brass press-studs. The sleeve has a double lining at wrist with the second layer having a drawstring at wrist.

There is a leather hanging loop inside the back neck and a triangular label that is no longer legible.

History and Provenance

Stanley Charles Braybon (1905 – 2000) was a man of intellect, a man of willpower and very much a man of the 20th Century. The key to his survival was his ability to adapt to change and to make the most of what he had.

Born of British parents in Bloemfontein, South Africa, where his father had been appointed Superintendent of Post and Telegraphs after the Boer War, his family subsequently returned to England and in 1911 migrated to Australia.

After finishing Primary School at Blacktown and completing a course at Auburn Technical School, Stan worked on the family farm at Blacktown until he was 16 years of age and old enough to start work as an apprentice to Electrical Fitting at ‘O’Donnell and Griffin’ in 1921. That year he commenced at Sydney Technical College, completing further supplementary studies in 1929.

On 6 April 1935, Stan and his older brother, Clifford, started a business as Electrical Engineers at 14 Washington Street, Sydney and the business prospered. After 46 years of successful trading, ‘Braybon Bros Pty Ltd’ was sold as a going concern in 1981, with Stan still at the helm.

Stan’s love of machinery extended to riding to racing motorbikes. He had been introduced to this mode of transport by his brother who had encountered them in Europe in World War 1. Mobility and speed were certainly attractions, but his real interest lay in how to make the bike go faster. Parts were scarce. This was the Great Depression. What you wanted, you had to make from whatever you could find.

Stan joined Ashfield, Western Suburbs and Chatswood Motor Cycle Clubs, racing both solo and sidecar, and earned many trophies. Only fragments of these amateur records from that time still exist. In the late 1920s or early 1930s, he was reputed to be the first solo rider to clock 100 miles an hour in an official time trial along Gerringong Beach.

Safety of the rider was of paramount concern and protective clothing was essential – helmet with chinstrap, goggles, leather coat, leather gloves, and long leather boots. Whether Stan’s leather coat was bought new or second-hand is unclear, but he kept good care of it for the rest of his life, not only for sentimental value but also because he appreciated its worth as protection from serious skin injury. No one else is known to have worn it.

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Charles Stanley Braybon was born 1905 in Bloemfontein, South Africa to English parents.

The family migrated to Australia in 1911.

He died in 2000 in Australia.

Where did this information come from?

Ann Braybon, daughter of Stanley Charles Braybon 

This garment has been exhibited

The coat was presented at the Powerhouse Museum as part of History Week in 2012 by NIDA Cotume students Christie Milton, Rebecca Clark and Robyn Murphy. They selected the coat from the NIDA Archive to add to the Australian Dress Register as part of their history of costume studies with Fiona Reilly. As part of this study they contacted and met Ann Braybon to learn more about the coat and her father's story. They also filled in much of the information in this submission.

  1. Place of origin:

    unknown

  2. Cost:

    Unknown

  3. Owned by:

    As far as we know this coat's original owner was Stanley Charles Braybon who lived in North Ryde NSW. His daughter Ann Braybon donated it to NIDA for our archive collection.

  4. Worn by:

    Stanley Charles Braybon

  5. Occasion(s):

    Photographed wearing jacket whilst riding his motorbike in 1929

  6. Place:

    Kent Road, North Ryde, NSW

  7. Designed by:

    Unknown

  8. Made by:

    Unknown

  9. Made for:

    Unknown

Fibre / Weave

Colour: Dark Brown with khaki lining

Fibre; possibly cow hide leather and cotton lining

Weave; twill weave lining, flannel pocket lining

All parts of the outer jacket and belt are leather and the lining is cotton.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye

Manufacture

All seams are manufactured by machine with plain or welt seams. The collar, pocket flap and belt are top stitched. Repairs have been made by hand at the left armhole and both internal pockets. Buttons are hand sewn.

Label

The label details are too worn to read.

Alterations

An inexperienced hand has poorly repaired this garments lining. Thread used is possibly 50 weight cotton dark brown to stitch tears in the lining and repair where the lining has come away around the internal pocket and left armhole. The stitches used are a combination of whipstitch and darning stitch in all the repairs. The one remaining 18mm button inside has been poorly re sewn possibly using the 50 weight cotton thread.

  1. Hand sewn
  2. Machine sewn
  3. Knitted
  4. Other

Cut

The body of the coat is cut in 4 pieces with a slight flare. It is double breasted, has raglan sleeves and a collar and revere that is cut with a separate stand at the back neck. The length is 3/4 with angled welt pockets at hip level.

  1. Bias
  2. Straight

Fastenings

The double-breasted front had 6 x 28mm buttons of which 3 remain, and 42mm bound buttonholes, 1 x 18mm button at neck with bound buttonhole on both sides of the lapel. Of 6 x18mm internal support buttons only one remains.  The belt has a metal buckle, which was leather covered, and 6 eyeleted holes 3 of which are missing their metal eyelets. The wrist tab on sleeve has brass press-studs with 2 position options. Inside the cuff excess lining is drawn in with a drawstring to prevent a draft from travelling up the sleeve whilst riding a motorbike.

  1. Hook and eye
  2. Lacing
  3. Buttons
  4. Zip
  5. Drawstring

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

No stiffening or padding. Lined with a khaki polished cotton twill weave and khaki cotton flannel lining in pockets.

Measurements

coat
Girth
Neck 510 mm
Chest 1010 mm
Waist 1020 mm
Cuff 350 mm
Hem circumference 1580 mm
Vertical
Front neck to hem 1030 mm
Front waist to hem 625 mm
Back neck to hem 1060 mm
Back waist to hem 610 mm
Sleeve length 725 mm
Horizontal
Cross back 466 mm
Underarm to underarm 510 mm
Convert to inches

Neck edge has been taken as the collar edge.

Sleeve length is taken from the neck.

Dress Themes

The coat was worn for motorbike riding and racing.

Additional material

Articles, publications, diagrams and receipts descriptions

Stanley Charles Braybon was a keen motorcyclist in the early days of motorcycle racing in Australia and he wore this coat to race in. Some newspaper cuttings of those days are included here.

Condition

The coat is generally in good condition but the leather on the shoulders is dry and worn.

Evidence of repairs

An inexperienced hand has poorly repaired the lining of this garment. Thread used is possibly 50 weight cotton dark brown to stitch tears in the lining and repair where the lining has come away around the internal pocket and left armhole. The stitches used are a combination of whipstitch and darning stitch in all the repairs. The one remaining 18mm button inside has possibly been poorly re sewn using the 50-weight cotton thread.

Insect damage

None

Mould damage

Mould damage to lining.

State

  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Poor

Damage

  1. Dirt
  2. Holes
  3. Parts missing
  4. Scratched
  5. Torn
  6. Worn
  7. Mould stains

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