Tag Archives: Canada

The men in powdered hair

An Account of the Number of Persons charged to the Duty on wearing Hair Powder, and the Amount of Duty


The graph shows the sad decline in the number of persons [men and women, despite my heading] wearing (or at least paying duty, at £1 3s 6d, on) hair powder between 1820 and 1832. It is from “Returns furnished by the Comptroller of Accounts in the Tax Office, expressly for this Work”, the work being Tables of the Revenue, Population, Commerce, &c of The United Kingdom and its dependencies Part III from 1820 to 1833, both inclusive. Compiled from official returns; presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of His Majesty HMSO, London 1834, compiled by G R Porter, Board of Trade, Whitehall, in July 1834.

The duty was imposed under the Duty on Hair Powder Act 1795; the act was not repealed until 1869, by which time hardly anyone was paying it. Here is a very entertaining account of the whole business.

The inland waterways connection here is via the schooner Nancy, which took part in the Anglo-American war of 1812 on the Great Lakes between Canada and the United States of America. Stan Rogers included a song about the Nancy on his album From Fresh Water and you can hear him singing it here.

The song’s narrator did not like men in powdered hair.


Blarna, Canima and the Liffey Dockyard

Pat Sweeney, in Liffey Ships & Shipbuilding [Mercier Press, Cork 2010], tells us that in December 1960 Cork Harbour Commissioners got permission to raise a loan of £250,000 to build two diesel-powered tenders to carry passengers to and from transatlantic liners moored in Cobh. The tenders were built by the Liffey Dockyard in Dublin; the MV Blarna was launched in May 1961 and her sister MV Cill Airne in February 1962.

After a varied career, the MV Cill Airne is now back on the Liffey as a floating restaurant. Her website says that she and her sister were the last rivetted ships built in Europe; they were the third-last and second-last ships to be built at the Alexandra Basin, the last being the Shannon Navigation’s Coill-an-Eo.

MV Blarna spent much of her life in Bermuda as a party boat named Canimabut then spent ten years in Canada waiting vainly for restoration or conversion and coming to be regarded as an eyesore. That period is now over: the “Millbank eyesore“, the Canima, sank in December 2012 and “salvage may not be an option“.

h/t Niall Galway