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Brian Wolfe

British Police Helmet Plates and Cap Badges

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It would be interesting to know why Hampshire adopted - and retains - its unique style of helmet plate, given that modern police forces have an almost pathological aversion to the uniform idiosyncrasies that were the hallmarks of the old borough and county forces.

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Having trained originally at Ashford PTC, it was always easy to spot the Hants officer....they were often nicknamed satellite dishes due to the size of the plate on their helmet.

That said, its a pretty spectacular plate and I guess nice to be a little different from the crowd.

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Brian Starkey - Hi. I think your heading was meant to read Birkenhead - unfortunately it is in the body of your post and we can't alter that - not

important.

What I am a little concerned about is the origin of the four helmet plates you illustrate. Are they from Jon Weston's books - Helmets and Caps ?

Please let me know concerning this - both yourself and GMIC could be in serious breach of his copyright. If they are his original work - please add to your post - or, another one and give him full credit. Mervyn

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Brian - His books only came out earlier this year - they were an expensive set and I have been meaning to review them for the Forum. I think your friend copied them and sent them to you - with older things this would not be a great problem - but at 60 pounds a set he may not like to see this.

I will add a short note to your post and give him credit - but, please don't stop posting things. Mervyn

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(photos courtesy of Jon Weston. 'Helmets and Caps)

attachicon.gifBirkenhead_Badges.jpg

The QVC badge shown as "1865-1878" cannot be correct. The centre of the badge appears to display the Birkenhead coat of arms which was granted on 28 August 1878 (so the badge cannot be from before that date).

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Nick,

>> "It is possible that, on incorporation in 1878, the new municpal borough of Birkinhead incorporated a pre-existing escutcheon into into its new coat of arms."

No, actually not. The seal of the town of Birkenhead before 1878 was different. The 1878 coat of arms represented the seals of the four towns merged to form the municipal borough of Birkenhead.

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The Municipal Corporations Act (1835) allowed reformed boroughs to establish their own police forces. In 1839 The County Police Act provided similar powers to the JPs in the shires beyond the boroughs.

Birkenhead did not incorporate as a municipal borough until 1877 so it would have been within the jurisdiction of the Cheshire Constabulary (which was created by a special Act of Parliament in 1852) until that date.

I think someone has mixed up the formation of the LIverpool force (just across theThe Mersey) in 1836.

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No, you are wrong in your assumption. The following is taken from the book "Maintaining The Queen's Peace", (a History of the Birkenhead Borough Police) by S.P. Thompson, published in 1958 by the Birkenhead Watch Committee.

" APPOINTMENT OF COMMISSIONERS.

In 1832 there was violent opposition to an application to Parliament for an Act to supply a public market and to establish police in Birkenhead. Despite this opposition the Act received Royal Assent on 10th June 1833............................The Commissioners proceeded to carry out the provisions of the Act and a Police Force was appointed. The Act continued in force until the incorporation of the townships of Birkenhead, Claughton, Tranmere, part of Higher Bebbington and Oxton into the Parliamentary Borough of Birkenhead on 13th August 1877".

So, the Birkenhead Borough Police was formed in 1833. The Cheshire Constabulary were formed on 20th April 1857. An earlier Act dated 1st June 1829, allowed the Cheshire Justices to appoint "Special" High Constables and "Assistant" Petty Constables and to pay them. However, this did not constitute the formation of the Cheshire Constabulary (taken from the book "To the Best of Our Skill & Knowledge", a History of the Cheshire Constabulary, and published by the force).

Cheshire Constabulary policed Birkenhead for the first time following the amalgamation of the Borough Police on 30th January 1967.

I hope this makes the situation a little clearer for those interested individuals.

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Many thanks Dave. I love these little quirks of administration that get thrown-up from time to time.

Birkenhead Improvement Commissioners:-

Appointed under the first Birkenhead Improvement Act, 1833 3 Will. 1V. cap. Lxviii to provide for the paving, lighting, watching, cleansing, and general improvement of the townships of Birkenhead and Claughton; and to establish a police force and market. Their powers were enlarged by later Acts, one of which 5 Vict. sess. 2. cap. v. authorised the purchase of Woodside Ferry. Birkenhead was incorporated as a borough in 1877, and the Improvement Commission, having been superseded by the Corporation, was dissolved in November 1879. See P. Sulley's "History of ancient and modern Birkenhead". 2nd ed. 1907. BC 1V 668
As an aside. The Improvement Commission established the first public park in Britain. A visitor from New York, Frederick Law Olmsted, was so impressed by what he saw he used it as a model for the layout of Central Park
Edited by NickLangley

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I agree about the Birkenhead police being first formed in 1833. However, I do not agree with 1857 being the date the Cheshire Constabulary was formed.

The 1957 book "To the Best of Our Skill & Knowledge" (by R. W. James, former chief constable of Congleton Borough Police and (at the time) a superintendent in the Cheshire Constabulary) I believe is in error about this. Surely the formation of a Cheshire force of paid constables in 1829 - whatever titles they were given - is, by definition, a constabulary. Many routinely dismiss the Cheshire force formed in 1829 as some sort of lesser sub-species of a constabulary. This appears to be primarily based on the clearly self-serving 1839 Constabulary Commission (see The First Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire as to the best means of establishing an efficient Constabulary Force in the Counties of England and Wales, 1839) which criticised the Cheshire Constabulary Act and its implementation as an "experimental failure". James, the author of the 1857 book, uses much the same language. James also states “It was purely permissive and subject to too many debilitating factors and it had the fatal weakness of not providing for a coordinating head or chief executive officer. At best it provided for

nine unrelated uncoordinated Police forces” (see page 22).

This all feeds into the often repeated fiction that the Wiltshire Constabulary was the first county constabulary formed.

On the other hand, if you believe the appointment of an expensive and largely unaccountable oligarch (i.e. a county chief constable of those times) is the defining and crucial aspect of a constabulary then you are certainly correct within your own terms.

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Hallo,

I have a couple of Cap badges. Can anyone explain the difference between "West Riding Constabuary" (maker J. Gaunt London) & "West Yorkshire Constabulary" (maker Firmin London)?

Thanks in advance.

Paul H.

Edited by ÖSTA

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This dates back to a very complicated time in the reorganisation of policing and local government in England and Wales.

The West Riding Constabulary was the force for the West Riding of the County of York. When the county borough forces of Barnsley, Dewsbury, Doncaster, Huddersfield and Wakefield were subsumed into the West Riding force under the Police Act 1964 the new force was renamed West Yorkshire Constabulary.

Of course there were other county boroughs within the West Riding that did not join the West Yorkshire force. Sheffield and Rotherham merged while Bradford and Leeds City forces remained independent until 1974.

In 1974 local government was reorganised: the county boroughs and the West Riding were abolished and a new Metropolitan County of West Yorkshire created. West Yorkshire Metropolitan Police was formed by amalgamating the West Yorkshire Constabulary with the Leeds and Bradford city forces.

The county boroughs of Doncaster and Barnsley were moved to a new Metropolitan County of South Yorkshire so those parts of the West Yorkshire Constabulary along with parts of the West Riding and Sheffield and Rotherham became South Yorkshire Police.

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I forgot Halifax County Borough Police. The town is now part of the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale in the former Metropolitan County of West Yorkshire - which was abolished in 1986 - but still within the jurisdiction of the West Yorkshire Police.

See, we do like it complicated!

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Hallo Nick,

Thanks for the Halifax update. This subject is indeed a touch complicated.

My father served with the Bradford City Police between 1963 & 1968. He then served with the West Yorkshire Police from 1974 to 1976/7. I will post images of his helmet plate, badges, buttons etc. next time I am in the Old Country (Sept./ Oct. 2014).

Regards

Paul H.

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Hi there,

Here is my small contribution - other ranks Dublin Metropolitan Police cap badge circa 1902-1911

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Hi there,

 

Here is my small contribution - other ranks Dublin Metropolitan Police cap badge circa 1902-1911

post-2810-0-65507100-1409135772.jpg

Is this DMP badge in your collection ? If so can you measure the height and width for me, I spotted one of these on a website in Australia...cheers

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