theyflysohigh : Steve Marsh

Welcome to the West Ham United Memorabilia Collection featuring everything Claret and Blue

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Myths and Legends ...

Second wife to Henry VIII and Queen of England from 1533 to 1536

First of all let’s start off with dispelling some myths and legends surrounding where our playing kit originated from, some books and websites have you believe we won a race against Aston Villa and as a forfeit they handed over their shirts as payment.


And while we are at it, The Boleyn Ground is not named after Anne Boleyn the second Queen of Henry VIII.


What a load of poppycock....

The story goes that Thames Ironworks right-half Charlie Dove received the Aston Villa kit from his father William Dove, who was a professional sprinter of national repute, as well as being involved with the coaching at Thames Ironworks. Bill Dove had been at a fayre in Birmingham in 1899, close to Villa Park, the home ground of Aston Villa and was challenged to a race against four Villa players, who wagered money that one of them would win.


Bill Dove defeated them, and when they were unable to honour the bet, one of the Villa players who was responsible for washing the team's kit offered a complete set of the Villians kits to Dove in payment. The Aston Villa player subsequently reported to his club that the kit was "missing." that's probably why they are called the Villians?


If this account was true, then why did the Hammers wait 3 years to unveil this same combination of the claret and blue colours in the home strip?

Playing Kit Facts:

Playing Kit Myth:

Aston Villa kit West Ham kit


1899 - 1900


1899 - 1900

1899-1900 Thames Ironworks 1899 Title winners

West Ham United Kit

1899 - 1900

Aston Villa Kit

1899 - 1900

Season 1895-1896

Shirts:   Shorts:   Socks:   All Oxford Blue

All Oxford blue, There's no primary source for Oxford blue other than black & white photographs and the fact that Arnold Hills played for both Harrow School and Oxford University in Oxford blue kit

Season 1896-1897

Shirts: Light blue,   Shorts: White,   Socks: Scarlet

There are conflicting reports for this season, some saying Oxford blue, some saying light blue shirt, white shorts, scarlet socks. There are no photographs from 1896-97 and there are no written reports either, but we do know that the light blue shirt kit was worn season 1897-98 so it's the time of change from Oxford blue to light blue that's in doubt.

1896 1895 1897

Season 1897-1898

Shirts: Light blue,   Shorts: White,   Socks: Scarlet,   Cap & Sash: Scarlet

A report of an away match against Novocastrians in November 1897 states that because of heavy rain causing muddy conditions after half-time

“The Ironworks appeared on the field with brand new white spotless clean knickers and light blue shirts, but before they had been playing long they were covered in mud, to the huge delight of the Novo’s spectators”.

This appears to be the first actual reference in print to the Ironworks’ colours, and a team photo from 1897-98 below seems to confirm this.

Season 1898-1899

Shirts: Light blue,   Shorts: White,   Socks: Scarlet

A second reference to club colours comes at the end of February 1899 when, the club arranged a friendly at Eastbourne FC, who paid professional clubs a fee to visit their Sussex ground. The local newspaper correspondent was full of praise for Ironworks, declaring, after their 3-1 victory.

“A prettier and more distinctive costume than theirs I have never yet seen on a football ground. Light blue shirts, white knickers and scarlet stockings were their colours".


Season 1899-1900

Shirts: Castle blue,   Shorts: White,   Socks: Vermillion

A reference to club colours for the 1899-1900 season comes from the Essex County Chronical dated 16 March 1900. The local newspaper correspondent (K.F.) states:

“Thames Ironworks have turned out in the British colours - their socks being red, the knickers white, and the shirts blue. This costume, it is understood, has been designed by Mr. A.F. Hills".

Season 1900-1901

Shirts: Castle blue,   Shorts: White with claret side stripes,   Socks: Black

Source: The West Ham Guardian dated Wednesday 5th September 1900

"The committee have wisely decided not to have such a conspicuous display of red, white and blue this year. The vermilion stockings have been replaced by black and a red stripe is run down the leg of the trousers"


Source: The West Ham Guardian dated Saturday 12th January 1901 for the West Ham United v. Liverpool English Cup game reported

"It was just upon time that the light blue shirted Hammers took the field, followed by Liverpool in salmon pink."

Another reference to colours also by the West Ham Guardian dated 13th February 1901 for the Southern League home game against Luton Town for the previous week stated

"West Ham did not play in their colours red, white and blue but in white"


By the turn of the century and the final season of Thames Ironworks FC’s existence as a team linked to it’s parent company, records reveal that the team colours were red, white and blue with Cambridge blue shorts.

Around the period Arnold Hills was forced to finance a takeover bid by issuing 4,000 - 10 shilling shares that turned his private family owned company into a public one which meant that he could no longer fund the club from Ironworks coffers... The club was renamed West Ham United Football Club. The club played at the Ironworks sport ground (The Memorial Grounds) and Hills became the president of West Ham United.


Season 1901-1902   and   1902-1903

Shirts: Light blue with single claret chest hoop,  

Shorts: White with claret side stripes,   Socks: Claret

When Brentford came to Canning Town for the opening home game of the 1901-02 season on 14th September, the West Ham Guardian again proved to be an invaluable source of information stating

"United wore their new uniforms for the first time, blue jerseys with a red band and white knickers and looked conspicuous to say the least"




Season 1903-1904

Shirts: Claret and Blue,   Shorts: White,   Socks Claret

By the time of the next available photograph of the team, taken in 1903-04, the more familiar colours of claret shirts with light blue trim around the neck and light blue sleeves, white shorts and claret stockings appear to have been adopted. These have become the predominant colours of the Hammers ever since and remained so throughout the remainder of the 20th Century and into the New Millennium.


1903 - 1905


1905 - 1907


Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn

(1501 - 1536)

We would all like this one to be true....


The original ‘Boleyn Castle’ was a turreted house with a tower.


The original GREEN STREET HOUSE is understood to have been built by RICHARD BREAME, who was handed the land by HENRY VIII in 1544.


The house soon became known as the ‘Boleyn Castle’. The most probable explination to the name 'Boleyn' being used was that Anne Boleyn’s brother is said to have rented the tower at some point.


However, there is no evidence that Anne Boleyn the second of HENRY VIII’s six wives ever stayed at, or even near, what became known as the ‘Boleyn Castle’

Being built in 1544 – this is Eight years after Anne Boleyn was beheaded on 19 May 1536 at the Tower of London.


Up until the 1950s the players often did their training in the grounds of Green Street House and many team photographs between 1910 and 1953 were taken in the leafy surroundings of its gardens with the Boleyn Tower or part of the main house clearly shown in the background.


The most noticeable change on the Boleyn Ground landscape came in 1955 with the demolition of the Boleyn Castle.


A combination of factors leading to the towers demise. The Club at that time were tenants to the Archdiocese of Westminster who actually owned the land, with materials in short supply since the end of the war The Ministry of Works were not forthcoming with granting permission to carry out improvements to any part of the ground including re-roofing the stands, the biggest factor however was the estimated £10,000 needed for its repair.