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Len Smiths Royal Ascot HC skirt 2     Len Smiths Royal Ascot HC skirt close up 2

Royal Ascot Hockey Club's Royal Stewart tartan skirt, produced and sold by Len Smith's.

From The Hockey Museum's collection.


Following on from mention of Len Smith’s Sportswear Ltd. in a recent article about the introduction of VAT in 1971, several volunteers at The Hockey Museum (THM) reflected lovingly on the era in the 1960s and ‘70s when players who wanted to look good on the school or club hockey pitch would head to – or place mail orders from – the Len Smith’s shop in the centre of Twickenham. Such memories are, of course, subjective with other kit suppliers eliciting similar rose-tinted reflections, though Len Smith’s seems to be remembered particularly fondly. It was particularly renowned for its hockey skirts because they stocked a wide variety of colours, styles and fabrics. The S5 style of ‘wrap-around pleated skirt with a flat panel at the front and a button fastening’ was a particular favourite.


Len Smiths advert reverse of 1980 Wembley programme
Advert for a S5 skirt, from the reverse of the 1980 Wembley programme.


When we were researching our book The Magic of Wembley (published in 2018 - buy it here), one of our researchers went to visit the old Len Smith’s shop looking for Wembley memories. Len Smith’s was a regular match sponsor and provider of kit to an impressive list of visiting international teams. Sadly, we found that Len, who had set up and run the company since 1956, had retired in 2008. The retailer had joined with Stevenson’s, a school wear specialist, that now gave its name to all the shop signage. The shopfront was still instantly recognisable and inside it remained stocked with hockey and other sportswear. When we spoke to the current staff, they remembered the previous owner and the 60-year tradition of the Len Smith’s brand, but we were shocked to learn that they had only recently disposed of all the old stock – sadly, we were too late to save items for the museum.


Len Smiths 02
 The store front of Len's Smith's in Twickenham. From the small archive collection received from Len Smith in 2014.


Len Smith’s may have been based in Twickenham, but we understand their appeal was nationwide and even international. Do you have any stories of obtaining Len Smith’s kit from further afield? Let us know.

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Len’s Memories

We did manage to get in touch with Len, now living in retirement in Hampshire. He was still the larger-than-life character who was always there to greet you when you visited the Twickenham store. He had lots of stories from his time running the shop including working with many of the women’s national governing bodies and famous players from the men’s and women’s international hockey scene.

One of Len’s Wembley memories was from 1970, the year that the annual England women's international fixture had to move to The White City Stadium when the Wembley turf was waterlogged. England women were playing Australia and the last-minute change of venue made arrangements somewhat chaotic for teams, officials and spectators alike. Len recalled that he had to deliver a set of green socks to the Australian team for this match but, with the traffic around the stadium being gridlocked, he ended up running through the crowds with all the boxes only to find that the security guards wouldn’t let him in. Eventually a message got through to the Australian manager and she came out to have the boxes passed through the gates to her! The Australian team then went out and ‘played their socks off’ to come away with a creditable 1-1 draw.

Although Len admitted he had not kept much by way of memorabilia from his days running the shop, he did donate several interesting items to THM including catalogues, photographs and newspaper cuttings. One particularly fascinating item was the original artwork for the first All England Women’s Hockey Association (AEWHA) cloth badge designed for the England tracksuit. When team tracksuits were first introduced in 1967, the players had asked for something different from the ‘three roses’ badge that went on the shirt and blazer. The England goalkeeper, Beryl Marsh, a talented artist, produced the artwork that Len then used to manufacture the badge. The artwork was submitted to Len on a Tuesday and he produced the badges in time for the international match that Saturday.


England women blazer 1979     AEWHA tracksuit badge
The England women's cloth badge created to emblazon the team tracksuits and the original artwork by Beryl Marsh dated 1 March 1967.   


1972 England women
 England women sport the team tracksuit and badge in Cardiff in 1972.



Where next for our clothing collection?

Since opening in 2011, THM has acquired a wide range of men’s and women’s original hockey kit and replica clothing. The collection spans from the late-19th century to the modern day. These would have been initially quarantined (to protect the rest of the collection from any bugs that may have snuck in amongst the fabric) and then carefully packed and preserved by Judith, our lead volunteer for textiles, who is very ably assisted by Shirley who makes our padded hangers.


High Street store 04
Part of the clothing collection stored at The Hockey Museum's Woking home.


Looking through our textiles collection, clothing catalogues, adverts in various magazines, and the many team photos we hold at THM, it is fascinating to see how much the outfits have changed over 150 years of modern hockey, particularly for women. It is not only the changes in fashion that are marked, but also the development of fabrics and designs.

THM is working to acquire funding for a research project around the development of hockey clothing, so if you have any unusual items or an interest in this work please get in touch.

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Marjorie Pollard Goes Home

22 December 2017
Marjorie Pollard Goes Home

THM Curator, Mike Smith presents cine films featuring Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation to the Bampton Archive. In the decades either side of WW2, one of the biggest names in hockey was undoubtedly Marjorie Pollard. She played cricket for England as well. Marjorie was a player, coach, journalist, publisher and film...

A Festive Friend: Leandro Negre Visits THM

21 December 2017
A Festive Friend: Leandro Negre Visits THM

Former FIH President Leandro Negre at the Board meeting with the THM Trustees and Museum Mentor, Liz May.Standing: Liz May, Philip Kimberley, David Balbirnie, David Wareham, Mike Barford, Dil Bahra, Lucy Newcombe, Imogen Gibbon.Seated: Katie Dodd, Leandro Negre, Mike Smith. We were delighted that the former FIH President and current...

THM Takes On New Trustees

02 October 2017
THM Takes On New Trustees

These are exciting and challenging times for THM. The Trustees recognised the need to take on additional museum and business skills at the strategic level to ensure we deliver on our ambitious plans to develop hockey’s heritage and bring it to a wider audience. We are therefore delighted to announce...

Helen Richardson-Walsh Donates Her Rio 2016 Astros On The Anniversary Of GB's Gold Medal Triumph

17 August 2017
Helen Richardson-Walsh Donates Her Rio 2016 Astros On The Anniversary Of GB's Gold Medal Triumph

One year on from the women's hockey final of the Rio de Janiero 2016 Olympic Games, Great Britain gold medallist Helen Richardson-Walsh has continued her support of The Hockey Museum by donating her astro shoes from the Games (right). Helen's donation will help to keep the memory of GB's success...

Remembrance Corner At World League Semi-finals

29 June 2017
Remembrance Corner At World League Semi-finals

Photograph courtesy of Steve McCarthy   As well as the excellent hockey on display at the Hockey World League series in London last week, there was also a small display, put together by the Hockey Writers' Club, celebrating the work of the late hockey journalists and photographers Peter Savage, Bill...

The Hockey Museum Visited By England Masters Over 55s

13 June 2017
The Hockey Museum Visited By England Masters Over 55s

  A few Wednesdays ago, twelve of the England Women’s Masters Over 55s rode in to The Hockey Museum (THM). Led by Ruth Hine, the ‘Red Riders’ regularly saddle up for the day as part of their team building and training. Having chosen somewhere to visit, they meet up at...

Staff Appointment And New Volunteers

09 June 2017
Staff Appointment And New Volunteers

THM's Curatorial Assistant Holly Parsons.   Holly Parsons completes the Museum’s curatorial team. She joined as Curatorial Assistant in February. Since leaving the University of Portsmouth in 2011 she has been volunteering at museums in London and the South, including the Old Police Cells under Brighton Town Hall, Marlipins Museum...

Seoul Gold Medal-winning Manager Roger Self Passes Away

07 June 2017

The Hockey Museum is deeply saddened to learn that former GB and Wales Manager Roger Self has passed away after a long illness. Read his full obituary, penned by Bernie Cotton, on THM site here.   Funeral Arrangements Roger's family are holding a private cremation next week, however, there will be...

The Amazing Story Behind The Wheeler Plate

11 May 2017

Jo Halpin, journalist and THM supporter, recently came across this fascinating article in the Irish Times featuring the 107-year-old former Irish international Dorothea Findlater. Findlater turned 107 years old on 27 December 2016 making it 81 years since she won her first Irish cap in 1936. It earned her a slow...

WA Baumann Exhibition

03 April 2017
WA Baumann Exhibition

   Wilhelmina Augusta Baumann   Exhibition: Wilhelmina Augusta Baumann The Hockey Museum is currently showing a small exhibition on Wilhelmina Augusta Baumann, one of the most respected and important women in hockey during the 1920s and '30s. The exhibition, which explores Baumann's playing and pioneering administrative career, ties in with...

Juan Calzado Visits THM

02 April 2017

Last Tuesday (28 March 2017) THM was delighted to host former International Hockey Federation (FIH) and European Hockey Federation (EHF) President Juan Calzado and his family. Following his visit Mr Calzado said: "It was a real pleasure to visit The Hockey Museum. The work that you are doing is fantastic...

Just Over 1 Month Left To Apply For THM PhD

22 March 2017

The Hockey Museum and The University of Wolverhampton are delighted to announce that the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) have approved funding for a collaborative PhD post to be jointly supervised by The University of Wolverhampton and THM. The title of the research project is An Oral History of...

THM Wins Funding For An Exciting New Collaborative Research Project

06 February 2017
THM Wins Funding For An Exciting New Collaborative Research Project

THM is delighted to announce that the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) have approved funding for a collaborative PhD post to be jointly supervised by THM and the University of Wolverhampton. The title of the research project is An Oral History of England and Team GB Women’s International Hockey...

The National Hockey Stadium Featured In Milton Keynes 50th Anniversary Exhibition

17 January 2017
The National Hockey Stadium Featured In Milton Keynes 50th Anniversary Exhibition

      The Hockey Museum has provided imagery to an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of Milton Keynes. Held at in the central forum of thecentre:MK, Milton Keynes shopping centre, A New City comes to Life celebrates the stories, innovations and communities that have made Milton Keynes the vibrant...

Trustee Opportunities At THM

16 January 2017
Trustee Opportunities At THM

The Hockey Museum (THM) is seeking enthusiastic and experienced people to join its Board of Trustees. Trustees will be strong advocates for the organisation, support the implementation of the Museum's vision and help to raise its profile. We are looking to increase the number of Trustees to give the Board a more...


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