When a ‘tache was for life, not just for Movember

It’s that time of year again when family members, colleagues and friends cast aside their regular grooming habits in aid of mens’ health charities and grow a moustache for Movember. This spectacular seems to be growing in popularity every year, offering men carte blanche to experiment with their facial hair without scaring off their nearest and dearest.

My dad has gone back to his trusted David Seamen tache from the 80s’, but looking around you can see a variety of styles, many evocative of a particular place or historical period.

So for today’s post I’m going to share with you a collection of moustaches from our fair city of York from 1880s-1920s. It’s interesting to see from the group photos when moustaches were ubiquitous, and when they were more about personal taste and expression.


Close-up from group Police photograph, c.1888

Let’s kick off with this recently re-discovered gem from the archive, which appears to show members of the York police force around 1888. Facial hair was most definitely “in” ! This is a wonderful photo, hopefully we will be able to be identify some of the individuals by cross referencing the numbers on their collars with other records we have in the civic archive.


Aldermen Dodsworth, Sheriff of York 1897

Here we have another York character, Aldermen Dodworth, Sherriff of York at the time. Complementing his chain of office he has cultivated a snazzy moustache as benefited a civic gentlemen.


Moustaches were not just for police and officials, here we have a great photo of workers from the Terry’s confectionery factory taken sometime in the early 1900s.  A couple of them are clearly too young to “Mo”.

Terry’s workers from the packing department at Clementhorpe, early 1900s


York has a strong tradition of amateur dramatics – these gents are dressed as royalist civil war soldiers for the 1909 historical pageant.

This is a bit of a cheat! It’s clearly not a photo of actual civil war royalist soldiers, but was taken at the highly successful 1909 York historical pageant. Clearly moustaches were seen as part of the necessary costume – I can’t quite tell which are real and which are fake (click to zoom in) but there seems to be a mixture.


Edward, Prince of Wales and the Lord Mayor in May 1923.

The ultimate accessory for both casual and formal scenarios, this image shows the Lord Mayor, a jeweller, dazzling Edward Prince of Wales with his majestic mo. I love how the Lord Mayor is taking up the red carpet, so the Prince has to walk along the edge!

That’s it for the archives this Movember, and remember you’ve just two days left to snap a picture of the mo’s around you this month to record for posterity before they disappear on the 1st of December. Let’s see if we can confuse historians of the future…

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