Barbour catalog illustration
Shopping From the Past

Shopping from the Past: Barbour Solway Jacket

Barbour Solway on cover of 1967/68 catalog (via Thornproof)

I stopped receiving Barbour print catalogs several years ago. Browsing the online web shop, I have a hard time tracking the ever shifting Barbour lines (Beacon, Sporting, Gold Label, Heritage, Lifestyle, Ladies, etc). Favorite styles are disappearing behind new Barbours with printed linings, updated silhouettes and Steve McQueen plotlines. Many of the Barbours made from the original, “thornproof” 8 oz waxed cotton have been discontinued. Missing from the Barbour line for several years is one of my all time favorites, the Solway Zipper Jacket.

In its day, the Barbour Solway Zipper Jacket was one of Barbour’s flagship models. Here’s a nice illustrated summary of the Solway’s principal features which include three outside patch pockets, inside game pocket, wind cuffs and a buckle belt:

The Solway zip was designed as both a shooting and “fowling” jacket. It was quickly adopted for for general country wear.

Per the 1964/65 catalog patter, the Solway is well suited for use in cold, damp conditions: “The quest for the ideal coat is over, invincibly waterproof, able to stand up to endless hours of rain and not let one drop through.” Of all the Barbours, the Solway appears to have inspired the most testimonials. My favorite is the story of the gent whose Solway protected him from an enraged Zebra.

The buckle belt adds a dash of style
In 1961, the Solway zipper jacket had spinoff models including the Solway Smock

Here are a few historic examples of Solway Zipper jackets captured from ebay:

There seems to be a disturbing trend towards having the belt and belt loops removed on Solway jackets. Recent ebay auctions list this as a garment feature. Since this is a signature feature of the Solway, I strongly advise against this practice.

Loopless, beltless Solway Zipper Jackets

ST, in Solway, tramping through the W. 18th wetlands with Chaz

I missed this special close out sale on Solway jackets via Sierra Trading Post. Ignominious end to a coat that once graced a catalog cover.

6 thoughts on “Shopping from the Past: Barbour Solway Jacket”

  1. I bought my Solway over 20 years ago. It was my first Barbour piece and still one of my favorites. The belt isn’t just for fashion. With the pile liner in place, the belt makes a tremendous difference in the warmth of the jacket.

  2. I am lucky enough to own two of these. My Grandfather bought one in 1970 and hung it in a wardrobe for 21 years. He never wore it. After his death in 1991 it went to Barbour for a re-wax. When we got it back it then remained in another wardrobe until this year. Although 41 years old it is immaculate and I intend to wear it gently.

    When I was a kid I used to go shooting in Northumberland. Barbour used to give away wax jackets for field testing and I got a Northumbria, a Gamefair and two Beaufort jackets over the course of several years in the mid 1980’s. Still have all of them. Only one (a sage green Beaufort) is wrecked and unwearable.

    Despite having a number of Barbour jackets I bought a Solway Zipper in the late 1990’s when I heard rumours that they were going to be discontinued. Again this is in good condition and it’s my favourite jacket.

    The Solway was a design classic and I am amazed they got rid of it.

  3. My father had a button solway,I stole it from him and wore it for motor cycling in.
    I used it for around five years,and then put it away and forgot about it. Twenty years and four stones later-it didn’t fit! One of my daughters now wears it, and treats it like a family heirloom.
    Needless to say, my father, who is ninety, finds this most amusing.
    I managed,after some research to find out what fathers coat was called, and bought one of the “new” solway zippers before they were discontinued. It serves me well, but obviously needs a bit more wearing in before having the same patina as fathers!

  4. This may interest you. I have two pre 2000 Thornproof Northumbrias and a light wait Durham. The former have wool lining like the early Solways. The Durham however has the new thin lining. Something I cannot abide. The new jackets have lost their appeal as real countryside clothing in UK. My only problem is a rotund lower region which prevents me pulling the zips on the Northumbrias. Best jackets Barbour made including the Solway.

  5. I too have a much loved Solway Zipper from the early 1990s. It has outlasted numerous Goretex and other waterproof jackets and stood up to the rigours of numerous North Norfolk winters. For those who don’t know a North Easterly blowing across the salt marshes can cut a man in two! My Solway Zipper, battered as it is, still offers the finest protection. Whilst houses, shops and transport have become better heated, so the demand for lighter weight clothes has grown. Yet, despite the obvious signs of global warming, those of us who venture to the ‘real’ outside, continue to rely on the bullet proof older Barbours, tatty as they now are. In a North Norfolk coastal winter, Baltic cold, damp, salty air and wind chill are still significant factors. The more fashionable modern versions simply don’t cut the mustard. My mother used to say, ‘dress for the weather. Fashion is a summer concept!’ Please bring back the authentic, rugged Solway Zipper or Longshoreman Smock.

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