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Historic Wolves and Shrews football kits given first run-out at Victorian town

Wolves and Shrewsbury Town fans can get a proper look at how their sides would have looked in 1900 as part of a museum's costume project.

The historic Wolves and Shrewsbury kits have been recreated by the team at Blists Hill Museum
The historic Wolves and Shrewsbury kits have been recreated by the team at Blists Hill Museum

Celebrating West Midlands footballing history, the Victorian kits of Shrewsbury Town FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers have been brought to life by the skilled team of costume makers at Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust’s Blists Hill Victorian Town.

As a reconstruction of a Shropshire mining town, set in the year 1900, Blists Hill brings to life the sights and smells of a working Victorian town, letting visitors experience what life was like for working class Salopians in the era.

Using historic images, archive footage and insights from club historians, the trust’s costume makers have reproduced the kits worn by the both squads in 1900, reflecting how they would have been recognisable to match-going fans of the era.

Wolves mascot Wolfie and Shrewsbury’s Lion show off the historic kits with Christ Church CE School pupils Frankie Finley, six, and Arna Wilkin, seven

The kits, which have been handmade at the trust’s on-site costume studio in Coalbrookdale, have been made to the specific measurements of current players; Shrewsbury Town defender Chey Dunkley and Wolves midfielder, Chem Campbell.

But the kits might not look immediately familiar to today's fans, with the 1900 Wolves players lining up in gold and black stripes, instead of the familiar gold shirts.

The Shrews would have played in a blue and white design, instead of the memorable blue and amber currently worn by the side.

Children from Christ Church CE School in Shrewsbury warm up before a kick-about with with Simon Tisdale from the Shrewsbury FC Foundation

Ensuring that the kits are in line with FA regulations of the day – which required players' knees to be covered, matching pairs of long shorts have been created as well as traditional caps, which were worn throughout the early 1900s.

As part of the project, children from schools selected by the clubs got to take part in a community engagement day.

They experienced a lesson in the town’s school room with the Blists Hills schoolmaster before joining a Victorian-themed kick-about on the green with members of the Shrewsbury Town FC Foundation and Wolves training teams.

Getting a closer look at the Victorian football kits

Alison Phillips, head costume designer at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust said: “We are delighted to be working with Shrewsbury Town and Wolverhampton on this fantastic project where we are bringing a slice of the West Midlands' sporting history to life.

“Over the last few weeks, myself and our team of volunteers have been sourcing fabrics to ensure that the kits are as historically accurate as we can make them, crafting our patterns and constructing the kits by hand.

"We’re delighted to be able to showcase the finished products in our draper's shop windows, and who knows, even the club's famous mascots might be getting in on the action too.”

Milly Wheeler, fundraising and partnerships manager at Shrewsbury Town FC Foundation said: “We’re delighted to be working with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, we’re a football club full of history so it’s great to get our fans and local schools involved in this process.”

One version of each kit is on display in Blists Hill’s draper's shop, where visitors will be able to take a closer look, while the others will be donated to the clubs.

Also on display is a reproduction version of the shirt worn by the 1900 England team.

As well as producing the historically accurate costumes like those worn by the demonstrators at Blists Hill Victorian Town, the team at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust’s Costume Project also works with other museums and heritage projects up and down the country.

Using historic patterns, images and archive research, the trust’s costumers have worked with organisations including the National Trust, the SS Great Britain Trust, the Historic Royal Palaces and Tower Bridge London to produce bespoke costumes for use both as visitor try-ons and for display.

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