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Brian Wolfe

British Police Headgear (***MODERATORS' RECOMMENDED)

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The only addition is the helmet band - this was missing and I put-on a Met. pattern from an old helmet.

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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.

After a little research I can confirm that the officer wearing the shako was a sergeant in the Liverpool Parks Police. As for the cane, I have seen Merseyside Police sergeants carrying such an item so it may have been a traditional accoutrement for Liverpool sergeants and the tradition has continued to this day.

There is very good website about the "Toffs Police" with plenty of photos herehttp://www.liverpoolparkspolice.co.uk

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You're correct that this is becoming a very interesting post thanks to members like yourself, Nick and others.

Thanks for posting these images Mervyn.

Regards

Brian

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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.

I believe all Scottish forces use silver braid for Inspectors

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After a little research I can confirm that the officer wearing the shako was a sergeant in the Liverpool Parks Police. As for the cane, I have seen Merseyside Police sergeants carrying such an item so it may have been a traditional accoutrement for Liverpool sergeants and the tradition has continued to this day.

There is very good website about the "Toffs Police" with plenty of photos herehttp://www.liverpoolparkspolice.co.uk

The sticks being carried by Sgt.'s in Liverpool were also carried by senior officers. They are called signalling sticks or night sticks and used to call Constables to them. This was used prior to the invention of radios. On night duty the Sgt. would bang the stick on the kerb stone to summon the beat Constable for the area he was in. The Constable would use his truncheon to respond in the same manner. Eventually they would both meet up.

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There seems to be a love/hate by British Police Officers both past and present regarding the wearing of the custodian helmet. I've read posts on another forum that some love the helmet while other hate it. Some say it is outdated and uncomfortable to wear and should be discarded. Others say that is gives them an easily recognizable symbol for the public as well as other officers. Some hold to tradition while others claim to be wanting to move on to be in step with more modern times.

I would really like to hear from past and present police officers on this topic and of course I'd like to see any headgear in your collections whether you are a police officer or not.

Thanks for reading through this very long post, I hope you felt it worth your time.

Regards

Brian

The helmet is very uncomfortable to wear when new until it, softens up.

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Hello Brian,

Thanks for the input, unless you have worn one, as you have, others would have no way to know this. It's the kind of information I was going for when I started this thread.

Regarding forage capes:

Here there are two schools of thought regarding the forage cap. The "old" school is that it should be very tight and in time will stretch to where it is comfortable. The other opinion is, of course, to get one that is comfortable from the start. I've worked with officers who claimed that a new hat would cause a headache until it streatched out, which explains some "attitudes". Me, I don't like headaches or "attitudes" so it was new school thinking for me.

Regards

Brian

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Brian,

The helmet would hurt your brow (headache) and when taken off would leave a mark where it had been. When wearing the helmet you had to pull it forward, place the knuckle of your thumb on the tip of your nose and then pull the helmet forward so that the peak touched the tip of your thumb. This made your head stand up and make you, I supopose taller and smarter in appearance. The best way of softening them up was to place them on a radiator when completely wet from the rain.

In Liverpool we had two types of uniform, one for winter and the other for summer. You couldn't change from one to the other without the order of the Chief Constable. The change from winter uniform to summer happened in the spring of each year. If it was a warm spring well.............. until the order arrived, then came 'shirt sleeve order' as it got warmer and you could take your tunic off but, shirt sleeves had to be rolled up in a tidy manner. No such thing as a short sleeve shirt in those days.

Please feel free to ask me anything about the uniform. When I was a young Constable (19yrs) I wore a cape in the winter months.

Brian

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Thanks Brian.

The tight forage caps that some officers wore here left a mark on the forehead as well and once the hat came off it looked like they had under gone some mad science experiment.

Regards

Brian

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It's always a pleasure to see photos where one of the old sweats is wearing his SD cap at a very jaunty military angle.

The Scottish pattern SD cap has always struck me as far smarter than the various English counterparts - some of which verge upon Fred Scuttle in their lack of style.

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Brian:

Did Liverpool officers wear white gloves? In Nottingham they had thick woolen ones in the winter and cotton ones in the summer. You could always tell an old City officer post amalgamation, the gloves neatly folded over his belt when in shirt sleeve order.

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Liverpool officers were issued with white cotton, white woollen and black leather gloves. I only wore the white cotton gloves on ceremonial occasions. Personally I never wore the woollen gloves.

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Brian - some very interesting research and a long time since I've seen the history of Police Helmets thoroughly explored. There should be many more threads to be added - including Women Police and New Zealand and Gibralter.

...

I hope that members with helmet collections will start posting some examples - even if they have been on before your Post will give reference.

Two New Zealand Helmets are shown here with a modern Met helmet in the background for comparrison. Prior to 1976 they were either dark navy/black or white. In 1976 the NZ Police changed to a victrix blue uniform. The helmet on the left is thus post 1976. By the 1990s they were all wearing forage caps / SD caps. The blue one was made in NZ and this particular white example was made in Australia. The kiwi helmets were much lighter and thinner than their British counterparts and prone to cracking. Unfortunately the white one is missing ventilator and band but it gives an idea of what they looked like. White helmets were common in NZ and I can't recall if they were summer dress (with dark helmet worn in winter) or daytime dress (dark helmet worn at night).

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Thought that members may like to see a rare and not often seen early helmet of the Irish Garda Siochana............Ross Mather

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Is that a modified DMP (Dublin Metropolitan Police) helmet? I seem to remember reading that the Free State government allowed their officers to continue wearing the old style helmet but with a Dublin City and then Gardai helmet plate.

Edited by NickLangley

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Hello Ross,

You were correct, at least in my view, this is an interesting specimen indeed.

Thank you for posting it.

Regards

Brian

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A Canadian Police helmet c. 1900

I have decided to place this helmet in the British section for a couple of reasons. First it was made in the UK and second I don’t expect we will see a flood of Canadian Police helmet posts so this will be a good place for it. If we do see a number of Canadian Police helmet posts I will move this one to the new section at that time.

A number of months ago a friend of mine alerted me to a Canadian police helmet for sale that was advertised as Victorian even though the badge was clearly a King’s crown. The price was right and I took the plunge and made the purchase. When it arrived I noticed that the helmet had three holes in the front for the attachment of a helmet plate. The badge that was on the helmet had the tabs bent out to accommodate the existing holes and once these matched the two lower holes the tabs were bent over on the inside. The helmet itself is an older cork model and was made in the UK, as was common in the early days. The maker is Christies of London.

Being a rather paranoid type, as most collectors are when it comes to the authenticity of specimens, I started to worry about the badge being correct to the helmet. The badge is a generic style with no indication of which police service used it. The seller said he purchased it in London Ontario Canada but was unsure of where it had actually been used. More research into the London Police is necessary to see if they indeed used this generic badge or not.

Earlier this week, while on a short vacation, I stopped in at an antiques “warehouse”, located in Barrie, Ontario, and found an interesting photo of a police officer standing in front of a police car. I am assuming this was a new police car and therefore the reason for the photo. Of course it could be a new police officer just as easily. Either way the car tells us that the officer was with the St.Catharines police which is near Niagara Falls Ontario. We can also see that they had at least two cars at the time. The vehicle itself is a 1925 Studebaker so we know about when this photo was taken. The feature I liked most about this photo was the white helmet with the same hat badge as on my helmet. It is worn higher than the one on my helmet but it is the same badge all the same.

The bad news about the photo is that when I got it home and used a magnifying glass to look at the badge I found out that the photo is not original. You can see the small dots that make up the image under magnification. This I find strange as even now when I look at the photo with the naked eye it appears to be an original photo. However the outline of the maple leaf and the white shape of the beaver are clear enough to verify, in my mind at least, that the badge on my helmet is original.

Here is what I believe happened to this helmet. Originally the helmet had a helmet plate during the late part of the Victorian era. When the Queen passed away there was a need to change the helmet plate to the new King’s crown pattern. Tax money for policing at the turn of the century here in Canada was not a priority with town and city councils so a smaller hat badge-style was decided upon for the police departments throughout the Province of Ontario if not the whole of the country. Since this particular helmet already had holes left from the removal of the plate the hat badge attachment tabs were simply modified and the badge applied to the helmet. This would also account for the lower location of the badge on the hat. This would place the helmet in the last years of the rein of Queen Victoria and the replacement badge in the first part of the rein of King Edward VII, which equates to the early 1900s.

As always I welcome comments on my speculations. As my research continues I will add the information to this article.

Regards

Brian

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Here is the photgraph mentioned above.

Sorry for the size and this may make the detail of the badge impossible to make out.

Regards

Brian

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Hi to all, just joined, my first post. An ex Brighton lad living in Oz, my interest is very specific namely the helmets and helmet plates of the Brighton Police. I have a 1960's white Brighton helmet amongst others with white "riot" style chinstrap. I have a couple of very specific questions to throw into the mix on Brighton headgear and hope that there might be somebody out there who may be able to answer.

First, on the subject of Brighton helmet plates, when was the "wreath style" plate replaced by the "Kings Crown" style plate, and secondly I have seen 1960's white Brighton helmets in photo's with single chinstraps, yet mine has the riot style chinstrap with 2 mounting points, were they issued concurrently, or did one supersede the other?

Geoff.

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Welcome to the forum Geoff.

I can't help you with your question, however, don't get discouraged if an answer takes some time.

One of the other members or even a new member may see your question and be able to help.

If I find out anything I'll be sure to post it.

Regards

Brian

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Hi Geoff:

If your white Brighton helmet has a riot chinstrap then it isn't genuine. No British forces had that style of helmet furniture until the late 1970s and the Brighton force was merged into Sussex Police in the late 1960s.

I would guess you have a film prop.

Edited by NickLangley

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