It’s hats off to the Olympic style window display in Lewes

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WHEN you walk along Mount Pleasant in Lewes you can’t fail to notice an intriguing shop window with a display of colourful hard hats.

Sometimes you might have to look quite closely to realise, but those hats change on a regular basis to fit the theme of the moment.

There was a magnificent crown to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and a Wimbledon cap when the tennis championships was in full swing.

Now, of course, there are just three hats – gold, silver and bronze – forming a medal winning Olympic line-up.

Husband and wife team James and Jessica Bridgland run the business, Phase Consultants, giving advice on property, health and safety and the environment.

When they moved in three years ago Commercial Square Bonfire Society asked to use the window for a display but then there was a bare space.

“We don’t sell a huge amount of goods to the public, it’s mainly professional services,” said James.

“It seemed a shame just to cover the window up. Quite a lot of our work is construction related and we thought hard hats would be quite fun.”

Hard hats really do come in that range of colours but the silver one is imported from America as it fails to meet our safety standards.

Jessica said they didn’t want the display to become boring while other shops changed their windows so she creates the themed hats.

“We pick up hats when we’re going around, like we got one from China Town in London, there was a Tour de France hat and our son came back from Wimbledon with a baseball cap,” she said.

“It has taken on a life of its own with local people bringing hats in for us.”

James said he arrived at work one morning to find a woollen hat pushed through the letterbox.

“At first I thought somebody must have found it outside and thought we’d dropped it but then I realised it was a Lewes Football Club hat somebody felt we ought to have for the window when the Rooks are playing.”

Someone popped in to give them a Nelson-style hat for Trafalgar Day and James regularly hears children outside asking their mums what the hats are for.

“People pop in to ask what we are going to be doing for certain events,” James said.

But it was the crown, painstakingly made by Jessica, that caused most of a stir.

“A couple who live across the road told us a lot of people stopped their cars to take photos,” said James.

Jessica said the crown required a lot of TLC sitting in the sunny window but at least it could stay on display for a while.

“Some of the themes are just for a day – like Valentine’s Day – although I do leave them up for two days,” she said.

“The Olympics is good as it can stay up a few weeks.”

The Games, of course, inspired window displays at shops throughout Lewes ahead of the arrival of the torch relay last month.

Barbican Carpets on School Hill won the prize for the most eye-catching windows.