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Brian Wolfe

British Police Headgear (***MODERATORS' RECOMMENDED)

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Nick - some lovely old helmets - nice for them to be on the Forum. Just so much is being forgotten - and I agree with your comments on badly dressed policemen. My pet hate are the yellow plastic coats - and with 'POLICE' all over them. The public may be stupid, but most of them can tell a policeman. They also must be very hot in Summer ?

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Not only hot Mervyn but highly flammable which is nice to know when you are getting flares and fireworks fired at you

as you say I think even a passing tourist from outer Mongolia would identify a British Police officer!

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Further to the pictures of straw helmets, Kilmarnock Burgh Police wore them as well during the summer months although they didn't attach a force helmet plate.

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To hopefully add to the topic, I thought I'd add a few pictures of unusual helmets which members might find interesting.

Firstly a very rare Victorian Midlothian Constabulary helmet with unusual Scottish pattern helmet furniture.

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Glasgow City Police normal beat helmet, worn up to the early 1930's before the helmet plate design changed to incorporate the Scottish national police badge.

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A few unusual white helmets:

Isle of Man Harbour Police:

Birmingham City Police traffic control helmet:

Leeds City Police traffic control helmet:

Stockport Borough Police summer helmet:

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Hello Jamie,

Thank you very much for your submissions, due to you and the other members this is turning into a source for research that has already surpassed any sources I have found on the internet.

Regards

Brian

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Hello Everyone,

Here's a nice pair that resides in my collection from The Greater Manchester Police.

A custodian's helmet and a WPC bowler.

Regards

Brian

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An awful lot of references to the "custodian" helmet.

Now I'm willing to be corrected: this was not the traditional name of the bobby's helmet but rather a name given to a moderately reinforced version issued to officers in the early 1980s as a half-hearted attempt at providing protection during riots. They could be recognized by their webbing chin straps, with some having an extremely flimsy detachable visor. They truly were a triumph of form over function.

Edited by NickLangley

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Thanks Nick. As for myself, I was going by what I have read being used by others with no first hand exposure to British policing.

To be clear, are you saying that we (I) should be using the term "Bobby's Helmet"?

Regards

Brian

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Amongst serving officers Custodian has become shorthand for a police helmet; rather like Hoover and vacuum cleaner. If you asked the average man or woman in an English High Street what a police officer's Custodian is I'd venture to suggest that most would think it is another name for handcuffs. So - as traditionalist - I would call it a police helmet. No need for the Bobby either.

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Brian, us in London call it a lid or a tit, not in the rude sense but in cockney rhyming slang " Tit for Tat " = Hat

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I agree with Nick - until Brian started calling it the Custodian it was not a name I was familiar with. I assumed it was a later issue from my old type. From when the top hats were discontinued the Met. pattern was always called the Bell type Police Helmet. I think this - from what Nick has said - still holds true.

Craig's expression of 'lid' still also, holds - we called them that - but, usually, just referred to them as a helmet. For his other name - I can only say he is in South London - we were much 'posher' in the East End !

Edited by Mervyn Mitton

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One of the contractors I work with is from London's East End and for a time I thought I'd have to employ a translator.

Not so bad now, but why do the English have so much trouble speaking English? :whistle:

This is off topic and said only in jest of course, but I'll expect a rebuttal anyway.

Regards

Brian

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The Sillitoe Tartan

The checkered hat bands familiar to our British, Australian and New Zealand members and to many of the rest of us through movies and television is known as the Sillitoe Tartan.

In 1932 the Chief Constable of the City of Glasgow, Sir Percy Sillitoe, adopted the checkered bands used on the Glengarries of the Scottish Regiments for their police caps. From Scottland the use spread to the rest of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. The colour and the number of rows of the tartan squares varies depending on the custom of the area. The UK uses the familiar black and white while Australia and New Zealand use blue and white. The Sillitoe Tartan was introduced to Australia in 1961.

Some American Cities use the Sillitoe Tartan and in Canada the Toronto Police Auxiliary use a red and black. The regular police service uses a solid red band. The police in my area, The Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS), also use the solid red band and just recently began using the red and black Sillitoe Tartan for their Auxiliary Police. The WRPS is located in Ontario, Canada with the cities of Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge, to name a few municipalities, making up the Region of Waterloo.

The photo is of the band on the Staffordshire Police Inspector's cap in my collection.

A quick check of the internet will reward the reader with more information on the Sillitoe Tartan as well as the Staffordshire Police and the WRPS, if you are so inclined. ;)

Regards

Brian

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There is one force in the UK where Inspectors' caps have silver rather than black cap braid for historic reasons.

As a mark of gratitude to those Liverpool City Police officers who did not strike in August 1919 the city's Watch Committee gave Constables commemorative truncheons; Sergeants received larger chevrons in silver wire, and Inspectors' caps were upgraded with silver braid. Merseyside Police continues this tradition to this day.

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Here is an interesting photo from the 1930s. It shows three constables from the Liverpool Parks Police with one of them modelling an experimental style of helmet.

Edited by NickLangley

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Nick - the shako was used in Cheshire and I think in some other areas. I remember Ian showing a list some time ago.

The Met. have black braid on peaks for Inspector's and Chief Inspector's - however, I noticed on a picture of Robin Lumsden's - when he was a Ch.Insp.

that his Scottish Force used silver.

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Mervyn, you are absolutely dead-on. One of the dangers of finding a new picture without thinking. Incidentally Liverpool City was another force that wore straw helmets during the summer.

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Nick - have just noticed something very interesting on your Shako. I think it is an Inspector wearing this one. From the mirror you can see what looks like braid on the peak - and the epaulettes are not numbers - they look more like rank pips - but side by side and not one above the other.

OK that should get everyone looking - would make it very revolutionary - perhaps for Specials ? Also, he is carrying a stick - traditional in Midland Forces.

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Brian - this is developing into a very interesting post. I noticed I had a couple of old pieces from my collection shown on an early sheet of photos - so, will post them. They may well have been shown before - however , on a dedicated thread, I don't think this matters.

This first one is an original "Peeler's" Top Hat - probably from a County Force as it is a little lower then the Metropolitan Police wore them. I would say somewhere between the 1840's and 60's.

The original Met. version swelled out at the top and the inside had a wicker cage to give strength. This was also intended

to act as a step at walls if the Constable was chasing someone. They were very heavy and soon replaced. The skin is Beaver and - of course - it was intended to be like the civilian headgear of the time. Peel tried not to make the uniform look military - too soon after the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolution.

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The changeover from Top Hats to Helmets took place throughout the 1860's - many County Forces were slow to follow the lead of the Metropolitan Police. Unfortunately, many of these old helmets failed to negotiate time and have been lost -

fortunately not the Plates - people tended to keep these. Even so, a Victorian Helmet Plate is now a fairly rare and valuable item.

This helmet is for the Warwickshire Constabulary - and I would think about 1880. I have had many offers for it - but keep forgetting I still have it in a cupboard. The photos illustrate well the early construction from 6 sections of cork - I am sure that Stuart will find comparisons with the military helmets of the time.

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