Jump to content
Gentleman's Military Interest Club

Recommended Posts

This is a Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendants Ceremonial helmet - dating from between 1938 - 1952.

This is a very high quality helmet manufactured by Compton & Webb with gunmetal coloured fittings and a multi piece helmet plate which, interestingly, does not carry any 'Metropolitan Police' wording but has the motto of the Order of the Garter. The chinchain and centre band are off a roped pattern and the chinchain hooks up at the back when not in use in a similar way to the older military helmets.

Edited by Jamie770

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lovely, I've never seen anything similar, a private purchase item that was worn in other forces too?

The band around the body of the helmet - it looks as if it's of seperate links as per the chin chain?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure as to whether this would have been a private purchase item or not. Nor have I ever seen a photo of one actually being worn - if anybody has one I'd be really interested to see it!

Similarly, I've never seen any reference to this style of helmet being worn by any other force, although that may explain the lack of the force name on the helmet plate. Alternatively, as the basis of the helmet plate is the standard 'generic' military officers item, perhaps not having the force name was a way of getting a high quality plate without the (presumably quite high) cost of setting up to manufacture what would have been a very small number of helmet plates.

The band around the body is the same links as the chinchain, just without the velvet backing and attached directly to the helmet.

As an aside, there is a picture of a similar helmet in the reference pages of 'Badges of Office'

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Never seen one like it in any old Met photos. I have only ever known helmets being worn up to the rank of Chief Inspector and this is very rare usually at demostrations. You will see the odd Inspector wearing a lid but this is becoming rarer as well.

The senior ranks have always preferred flat caps as the can get more braid onto them and not get mistaken for the hoi poloi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I only ever saw (Cambridgeshire) Inspectors wearing lids during the miners dispute, perhaps at some later public disorder venues, when the situation was'nt yet deemed necessary to fully kit up in protective gear.

This Met helmet - the chain band strikes me as a little strange, but who knows, some close ups of the insignia & fittings would be good, any manufacturers marks on any of the components please?

Edited by leigh kitchen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Met. Police Inspectors and above wore helmets on major parades - i.e. Trooping the Colour. These were issued, but only inner divisions - under 5000 men were called on for these events. The inspectors pattern still had the chin chain, and was not so elaborate. This one has the 'furniture' in silver and with a rope pattern. The Commander of the parade - remember, it may be a military event, but, under police control - was usually an Asst. Comm. who wore a cocked hat with plumes, a heavily embroidered tunic with austrian cording. A ch.supt. would have a similar tunic, but not so ornate. Inner div. P.C.'s were issued with No.1 dress - this buttoned to the collar and had buttons on the pleated rear - we wore white gloves. When they were withdrawn in 1973 the Met sold them at ?3.50 to Elstree film studios !!!!

You rarely see helmets of this quality and it has to have a value of about, ?750.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Mervyn,

Many thanks for this additional information, it is very useful to know.

I have other items of Met Police, including an Inspectors No1 dress uniform complete with black sam browne belt and the helmet which I believe went with it - I shall post a picture in due course.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ranks above Inspector always wore patent leather sword slings - basically to show officer rank. The actual carrying of swords was discontinued in Victorian times. I have just sold to a collector one of this pattern sword - based on the artillery.

Are you associated with the police in any way or, just have the interest? I'm only being nosy - there aren't that many collector's with your quality of pieces.

Mervyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Mervyn,

I've sent you an email which gives you a bit more info about me.

Regarding my background, I'm afraid that when I left school I was too 'vertically challenged' to join Lothian & Borders finest being only 5'7'' or so. Ironically, nowadays I see plenty regular officers who are shorter than me!.

However, I did join as a 'Special' and served 13 years in the bad-lands of East Lothian which has a number of quite rough little communities. I preferred to serve outside of Edinburgh because the regular guys were thin on the ground in the County areas and were glad to have some assistance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Further to the discussion above, I attach a photo of the Inspectors No1 dress that I have.

This is a quite interesting higher quality tunic with black braid ornamentation at the collar, cuffs and skirts. It was worn with black patent leather Sam Browne belt with snake clasp. The Inspectors quality helmet is a felt covered cork construction with a wide black metal band, chrome rosetop and chrome two piece helmet plate. The helmet's edges are fabric which matches the trim on the tunic, not leather or plastic bound and it has a higher quality leather and silk liner.

I think this uniform dates from the late 1950's - 1960's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This Met helmet - the chain band strikes me as a little strange, but who knows, some close ups of the insignia & fittings would be good, any manufacturers marks on any of the components please?

Hi,

I don't have any close-ups of the furniture unfortunately but I can get some taken perhaps this weekend when I've got a bit more time.

The only manufacturers mark I've ever seen on it is the Compton & Webb label inside it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lovely Inspector's uniform and great condition. I don't think this is the correct helmet - although, if it came with the uniform, it must have the provenance. I seem to remember the helmet having a band of black on top of the peak - as for the cap.

Mervyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Mervyn,

Yes, the whole uniform comprising the tunic, trousers, sam browne belt and the helmet came from the same source - which was a Wallis & Wallis sale many years ago. All the parts are a perfect colour match and seem to belong together. As a bit of additional information, the trousers have the same style of black braid continued down the side seams.

The helmet is well made - far better quality than the standard 'beat' helmet of this period - and judging from its wear seems to be the same age as the rest of the uniform. Interestingly it has the standard chrome helmet plate with a seperate ERII cypher.

I've been looking for old photographs of this uniform in service but to date I've never been able to find any.

Could the helmet you remember having a black band on the peak possibly have been for a more senior officer?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jamie,

I think the helmet is a P.C's or P.S's helmet. Inspectors helmets have 2 silver bands around the base in place of the single black band. Ch. Insp have one gold band in this place.

There could be a possibility that a P.C liberated this helmet from the clothing van or from stores and removed the Inspectors bands and stuck the P.C's in its place.

Craig

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Craig,

I have two helmets of this pattern. The one pictured came with the inspectors uniform and is a perfect match to it and the other was purchased seperately several years later.

Both helmets are identical in all respects and are certainly not standard PC / PS helmets - they have a leather and silk lining and the helmet edges are cloth (not leather or plastic) bound. The helmet edging matches perfectly to the braiding on the uniform.

Neither helmet shows any sign that the centre band has ever been replaced. There are no holes where an additional band has ever been and the black band is of a different pattern to the PC / PS style being significantly wider (but not wide enough to cover where two seperate bands had been removed).

Inside one helmet there is the makers stamp of 'J Compton Sons & Webb, London' and inside the leather headband it is stamped with the letters 'TH', a crown below and the date 1963 below the crown. There are also some ink handwritten markings - '7 1/8' and '25' and elsewhere 'MP INSP'. These markings seem to be of the same age as the helmet.

Inside the headband of the other helmet (which came with the uniform) is stamped 'RJ', a crown below and the date 1960 below the crown.

Both helmets have the chrome helmet plate with the removable ER cypher as per 'Badges of Office' plate 1 E4 identified as 'Inspector (Ceremonial, 1954 - 1973). The helmets plates are original to the helmets, no other plates have ever been fitted.

I had thought that the Inspectors two silver band helmet was introduced in the 1980's to allow for recognition in public order situations. I attach a picture of the helmet I have - with the expection of the bands it is identical to the normal PC / PS Custodian helmet of the time.

I would be most interested if you know that the Inspectors 'two band' helmet was worn earlier than this period.

Many thanks for the information regarding the Ch Insp gold band - I hadn't known this and I should be most interested to see one.

Edited by Jamie770

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So nice to start seeing some quality police discussions in this section, it has driven me out of lurk mode...

Sir Robert Mark was responsible for the erosion of police ceremonial dress, now look at the quality of the uniform compared to these wonderful items, very sad. Ironic that the only ranks which still have the ceremonial dress are ACPO ranks in the Met, although the last Commisioner never had the presence of mind to wear it mounted on horse back as he should have.

The Ch/Supt helmet is a fine quality piece which was issued to Central Divisional Chief Supt for ceremonial duties as Mervyn states. Did they not carry a leather baton as well ?

The Insp helmet above with the two silver bands was conceived in the 80s, remember when the ceremonial dress went Insp also lost their helmets. they were only reissued after the cork helmets were replaced with the protective buckets for public order purposes. This helmet is used by all ranks above Insp, including Ch/Insp never seen a gold band, sure it isn't City of London police who still have Ceremonial dress.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

re. Tom's comment on a leather stick being carried - I cannot recall seeing one, unless it was like a riding crop for the horse ? Can you recall any other details - it just 'might' have represented a staff of office ?

Jamie - when are you going to post some more of your sepecial helmets - with Ross now joined we should see some exceptional items.

Mervyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×