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Brian Wolfe

British Police Headgear (***MODERATORS' RECOMMENDED)

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Ian,

this is a Home Service Helmet as used by the Army 1878 - 1914. In fact I think it is still in use today for some Regimental Bands. The metal edging to the front peak indicates an officer's version. I don't mean that it is an Army helmet but rather the same style as used by the Army.

Any chance of an interior shot?

Stuart

Edited by Stuart Bates

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Still in remarkable condition for it's age, Ian. Nice to see you getting a few more pictures of your collection on the Forum. Best wishes to Ann. Mervyn

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There were quite a few police forces that wore the white helmet. Here is a list :

Birmingham

Brighton

Isle of Man

Leeds City [Traffic]

Margate Borough

Peterborough City

Salford

Southend-on-Sea

Stockport

Joe

You can add Nottingham City Police to that list. Officers on point duty wore a white coat and had a special cover that slipped over the helmet.

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Here are two for the City of London - who also need adding to the white helmet list. I think they still wear them in Summer. The helmet plates are very sought after.

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These were amongst some photos from my remaining collection - I had forgotten these helmets. The white one is - I think - Birmingham (perhaps someone will recognise the Cof A. ) The other is the old Glamorgan Helmet. One of the most difficult British ones to get.

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hi Brian,

This is a good thread, looks like a proper discussion can be had by all.

Here is my two cents worth from a collectors point of view.

The title 'Custodian' helmet is used to describe the current 'Bobby' Helmet which are strenghtened inside with foam padding ,have fixed straps (integral to the construction and cannot be removed) and helmet plates fixed on by the manufacturer. These are the ones you see on the TV News during riots in London. The Helmet plates for these generally have fold over lugs to prevent damage to the wearer if the shell is breached by a blow, the older plates had three loops that stuck through the shell and held in place by broken matchstick ends. 'Custodian' Helmets are made in all three shapes you describe.

The shape of a 'Bobby' Helmet is indeed taken from the design of a Prussian Picklehaube ,a style of which was adopted by the British Army as the 'home service pattern helmet' ,as mentioned in a post above. Over the years through general use the design has changed for various reasons to the shape you see today. Two of the styles you mention are descendants of this design - Rose top and Ball Top. The Ball top came about due to early Health and safety concerns that the spike on the Military Helmet was to dangerous to the public. The Police 'Home Service Pattern' helmets were the same helmets issued to the Army and only differered in the type of fittings, Blackened or Silvered (NO Gold or Gilt), one of the posts above has a good photo of one of these.

The helmets have been variously described as follows:

Rose Top - Home Office Pattern.

Comb Top - Colonial Office Pattern, City Pattern, Coxcomb.

Ball Top - County Pattern.

The design on the top of a Comb Top is linked with the first Police Force to use this style, the CITY OF LONDON POLICE, it shows the 'Dragon Wings' taken from the coat of arms of the city. The Comb Top on an ESSEX POLICE (formerly Essex and Southend Constabulary)helmet has a 'Sea Shell' at the front reflecting the location by the sea. I Think Durham Constabulary have a shield with their Coat of Arms on theirs.

The design on the top of the Rose Top is indeed a rose when viewed from above, normally in chrome or blackened metal. Some Scottish Helmets had a thistle design. On Colonial Helmets the rose was ,sometimes, replaced by a padded dome shape with three air vents, used by New Zealand, Australia and Canada ( the Toronto Police Mounted Branch still use them).

The construction varied by manufacturer, location and age. There are many variations to collect but of special interest is the number of panels, none, two, four or six, knowing this can help to find out if you have the right helmet and badge configuration.

Many countries Police have used 'Bobby' Helmets over the years but there is NO link to copying the British Helmet, it is more likley that they have develeoped through the use of military designs. Apart from ex-commonwealth countries- Switzerland, Italy, San Marino,Yugoslavia, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Iran and Greece all used helmets over the years. Some also used the coxcomb style. Other Helmet designs are used but outwith the scope of this thread.

Regarding the inside of helmets, someone asked about it above. The 'Home Service pattern' generally have a green lining, slightly shiny from the the ones I've seen and a leather sweat band adjustable witha thread throught the top part. The 'Home Office pattern' and the other designs made of cork with a cloth cover have the same.

The 'Custodion' ones have white foam lining and leather sweat band. they are manufactured 4 or 5 shell sizes so not sure they have adjustable bands.

Other variations are on the outside of the helmet ,the band, this can be metal in Black or Chrome, thick plastic, thin plastic or cloth. The Devon and Cornwall Constabulary have a chrome metal rose on either side of their ball top helmet. There are alos variations on the Ball top fixings.

Well that's about all I can think of just now. Hope it is of some help.

Best Regards,

Les

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Definitely not a Birmingham City Police helmet: until amalgamation they wore a rose top helmet in the standard Home Office pattern.

Southend-on-Sea County Borough wore a white helmet and styled themself as constabulary rather than police so that would fit.

Edited by NickLangley

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Never know about the City of London white helmets!! Have any photos of them in use !!

Here are two for the City of London - who also need adding to the white helmet list. I think they still wear them in Summer. The helmet plates are very sought after.

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Definitely not a Birmingham City Police helmet: until amalgamation they wore a rose top helmet in the standard Home Office pattern.

Southend-on-Sea County Borough wore a white helmet and styled themself as constabulary rather than police so that would fit.

I am sure that it is South End. The comb vent is A sea shell. Ian

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The popular view is that the British Police Helmet was derived from the Prussian pickelhaube but what proof is there for this view? I have read that the pickelhaube was "copied" from the Russians and one only has to look at illustrations from the Crimean War 1854-1856 to see the Russian soldiery wearing a spiked helmet.

The British Army in India were wearing a helmet, which was later called the Colonial pattern, from the early 1850s and this is much closer to the police helmet than the pickelhaube. Early types of this helmet featured a ventilation comb to the top which mirrors one of the variants of the police helmet and was called the air-pipe, air-chamber or air-tube helmet with the major manufacturer being Ellwoods.

In 1870 the Colonial pattern, as pictured below, was mandated for British forces serving overseas. There is a lovely photo of an officer of the 21st Foot in full campaign dress in the D P & G reprint of the 1874 DRs and he is wearing a Colonial pattern helmet complete with spike.

Thoughts?

Stuart

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This is taken from Jones' Military Outfitters catalogue of 1886. The second and third from left are interesting in that the top-piece seems to be an acanthus leaf base with a button top.

Stuart

Edited by Stuart Bates

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Stuart,

If the police and army were wearing similar style helmets do you ever see them with a mixture of parts/canabalised e.g. police helmets turned into army helmets and vice versa?

Tony

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Just as I thought !!

That white City of London police helmet is a fake unfortunately. That Force has never worn white helmets.

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Tony,

I am a complete novice when it comes to police helmets and am just posing questions that I can't answer. However, I do question the veracity of the Prussian influence on them.

I look forward to some substantial evidence of that.

Stuart

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Milice - I see you are a new member - so, welcome to GMIC. Until the photo was sent from my remaining collection in the UK I had not seen this helmet for years. However - with the largest collection of British Police in the World - at one time - I was not noted for accepting any item without background. I also served in 'H' Division, which adjoins the City and I seem to have memories of City Police in these helmets with white coats. I am always ready to be corrected - however, I would like to know your background on collecting - are you in the City Police ? The quickest way to establish this would be to phone the City Police Museum and check with the Curator - should you have time , perhaps you could do this ? Mervyn

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Milice - I see you are a new member - so, welcome to GMIC. Until the photo was sent from my remaining collection in the UK I had not seen this helmet for years. However - with the largest collection of British Police in the World - at one time - I was not noted for accepting any item without background. I also served in 'H' Division, which adjoins the City and I seem to have memories of City Police in these helmets with white coats. I am always ready to be corrected - however, I would like to know your background on collecting - are you in the City Police ? The quickest way to establish this would be to phone the City Police Museum and check with the Curator - should you have time , perhaps you could do this ? Mervyn

Hello Mervyn,

That City Police helmet in white is a fantasy piece I'm afraid and you will not find a photo of one being worn.

No City Police helmet has the comb all in Gold. Senior Officers have a Gold trim on the comb but there will be no divisional number on the helmet plate like the one shown.

Here is a good site on City Police memorabilia.

http://citypolice.tripod.com/index.htm

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Ian,

this is a Home Service Helmet as used by the Army 1878 - 1914. In fact I think it is still in use today for some Regimental Bands. The metal edging to the front peak indicates an officer's version. I don't mean that it is an Army helmet but rather the same style as used by the Army.

Any chance of an interior shot?

Stuart

Hi Stuart. an interior shot of the chief constables helmet. Ian

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