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Metropolitan Police kit c.1880-1920 (What do you have put away. ?)

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Just thought I'd give this one a bump again, was at the Wye Valley River Festival last month, helping take Brockweir back to Victorian times for the day (and turning a blind eye to various criminal activities!). A few pictures below, top is me with childrens entertainer "PC Crump", who I did not find out until the end of the day is actually Paul Goddard (creator of Bitsa and other notable childrens TV):



Was also recently made aware of this site with lots of shots of the event, including plenty of myself:


This is a favourite, as it actually shows off the kit not visible from the front:


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  • 4 months later...
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Thought I would give this a bump with the latest addition. I am currently working on replicating WW1 Metropolitan Police kit, and spotted this on Ebay very early Friday morning - a hoard of early 20th century Metropolitan buttons, discovered by the seller in the roof of his fathers house. Offered with Buy-It-Now totalling £30 with UK P+P included, or the Make-Me-An-Offer option was also put forward - needless to say I did not take the risk of trying to get them a little cheaper and bought them straight up! Paid for them straight away, posted by the seller Friday morning, and arrived Saturday morning. I thought there would be 20+ of the gartered KC type, and they eventually worked out as follows:

120 large KC gartered Metropolitan Police tunic buttons (1911-1934 pattern)

1 small KC gartered Metropolitan Police tunic button (1911-1934 pattern)

16 large KC bordered Metropolitan Police tunic buttons (1934-1952 pattern)

8 small KC bordered Metropolitan Police tunic buttons (1934-1952 pattern)

2 KC odds'n'sods (Prison use or similar)

Needless to say I am extremely pleased, and set for life now for normal WW1 tunic buttons. And I only went looking online that night for one more to complete a set I had almost finished putting together... :o



Edited by ayedeeyew
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A very nice find - as you say will set you up for a long time. Mind you if you keep collecting uniforms........... Mervyn

Indeed - some of the WW1 type should go on the original tunic I am working on restoring, some on a copy of the same, and the WW2 style should come in handy if I ever get an appropriate tunic in my size. Some of the rest I might look to trade or swap on eventually.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The same seller also had a not terribly well listed group of horn buttons. As most appeared to be QC I wasn't terribly interested, but as they had been gradually reducing the price over the last couple of weeks I decided to take a chance on the lot when it got down to just £8.50 with P+P. Though not quite as good as the last lot, I'm still glad I did, as it contained:

1 small QVC gartered Metropolitan Police horn tunic buttons (pre-1902 pattern)

26 small KC gartered Metropolitan Police horn tunic buttons (1911-1934 pattern)

1 small KC bordered Metropolitan Police horn tunic button (1934-52 pattern)

9 large KC bordered Metropolitan Police horn tunic buttons (1934-1952 pattern)

11 large KC pie-crust horn tunic buttons (pre-1952 pattern)

42 large QC bordered Metropolitan Police horn tunic buttons (post-1952 pattern), chunky style

7 large QC bordered Metropolitan Police horn tunic buttons (post-1952 pattern), finer style

12 small QC bordered Metropolitan Police horn tunic buttons (post-1952 pattern)

12 small QC bordered Special Constuabulary horn tunic buttons (post-1952 pattern)

2 small QC pie-crust horn tunic buttons (pre-1952 pattern)

Not a bad average at just over 6p a button...



Edited by ayedeeyew
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When you are re-conditioning old uniforms the small things like buttons become very important. Because tunics and other

identifiable uniform have to be handed-in to prevent illegal use if they should be sold off, there is usually a shortage of the

'furniture' (as these bits are called). I remember that my greatcoat had horn buttons. The damn thing was so heavy I

could hardly walk in it - let alone chase anybody. Fortunately, in about 1970 we were issued with an additional car-coat.

This was warm and very comfortable and only came to the knees. The great coat was intended to be worn with the cape

over it for wet weather. We were also issued with two grades of raincoats - one heavy and the other lighter for Summer.

Any way well done on your new acquisitions - you could set-up selling buttons . I don't think many people actually make

full collections of them. I must have sent 7 or 800 to auction when the shop closed. Many for Rhodesia and old SA Regts.

very few people ever asked for them. Mervyn

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  • 1 month later...

Looking for buttons to match the following if anyone has any leads. All are black plastic, main ones are 1-in diameter and I am ideally looking for 12+, the other is 1/2-in diameter (although I would accept anything 1/2-in to 3/4-in diameter) and I am looking for 2+ of these. I am converting a 1950's Civil Defense/ARP greatcoat to look more like a WW1 Police "Specials" greatcoat, and the buttons they used on the exterior are identical to those still being used on the interior of the coats 40 years later.



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All of three years ago when I started this thread, I was after a correct WW1 pattern Met Police helmet plate for my WW1 kit. After a lot of Ebay failed bids and scouring dealers sites, for my birthday present this year I finally have one!



It needs a little work (one lug is missing, another was badly resoldered and has detached itself), but as I need to number it to match my collar number of H.171 anyway this makes me less worried about doing it. If anyone knows of any source for any of the correct sized numbers or letters (I need another 7 and 1, and a letter H) I would love to hear it.

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Nice, I wonder if  has it been used as a dockyard plate at some point, wondering if the large holes are to attach the skewed fouled anchor.

I wouldn't read too much into the additional holes. I believe these have been done by a collector in the recent past to change the plate to another division (of course, that might include the anchor), because the work has been somewhat crudely done. The 000 number on it certainly is not right. Either way, when I finally get it relugged and with H.171 on it shouldn't be visible to the casual observer at least, which is good enough for me! It's a shame in some respects, as the rest of the finish and general condition is absolutely cracking, but does mean I could essentially afford it, and still not be worried about tweeking it a little for my needs.

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  • 5 months later...

A new year, and time to get some updates done again.

The local Victorian Evening has been and gone once again, so the Victorian kit got an airing. The local Police were interested to see it as usual, and made the local paper again:


"Special Chief Inspector Scott Eggins with Andrew Upton dressed as a victorian police officer and raising money for Children's Hospice South West."



I continue to work on the WW1 appropriate kit. The helmet plate I mentioned back in post 34 went away to a jeweller friend to be fixed, and came back a good few weeks later looking as follows:



As can be seen, the detached lug is now firmly refixed, and the missing lug entirely replaced. I have added a number 1 from another damaged helmet plate I bought several years ago, but I still need another 1, a 7 and an H to correctly replicate my collar number, so if anyone knows of any damaged plates available for sale with these, or would be possibly willing to swap for them (as I have some spare numbers I don't require, a 6 or 9 and several 0's) please let me know. The numbers are the typical 13-14mm variety, the letter would need to be the usual somewhat smaller 10mm or so variety.

This will ultimately be going on this helmet when the plate itself is completed:



This is an original two-panel cork helmet. Strictly speaking for the WW1 period and Met use it should be six-panel, but some forces were using these at the time and it is hard to find original early ones in both decent condition and a modern wearable size. As found this helmet needed some minor work, so I removed all the metal fittings and repainted them black. The original vent grommets were all missing, as was one of the rose-headed split pins that hold the band in place, so I replaced these with originals off a very damaged earlier helmet I purchased for spares. The chinstrap was reaffixed in place, and before I fitted all the freshly painted metal fittings back in place the shell was given a light sponging with soapy water to freshen it up, followed by a light vacuuming. I wish I had taken some before-pictures, because it really came up a treat!

I now possess not one but two suitable jackets that would work for the 1897 pattern jacket adopted by the Met, but both require some minor conversion work before they will be deemed suitable by me. Something for someone whose tailoring skills are slightly  more experienced than my own...

Last but not least, as mentioned in another thread recently I have been working on trying to sort myself something that would provide a suitable base as a period greatcoat. Santa was good this year in that respect, so I am trying to put together enough original horn buttons on the 1911-34 pattern mentioned above (KC with Metropolitan Police within a gartered buckle, not the post-1934 KC type with Metropolitan Police now within a plain border). What I have so far is illustrated below, still waiting on four from Kelly Militaria, and currently bidding on some groups with odd ones in on Ebay. The coat requires 16 of the larger (about 25mm diameter) type - I'd really like to get as decent a matched set as possible, so if anyone knows of any other sources of multiple examples of these please let me know:



More to come in due course...

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It looks like your patience and determination have paid off handsomely. You seem to have envisioned the end result right from the beginning, and remained focused until the end result was at hand. I can't think of anything that would improve your kit. Thanks for allowing us to walk through the process with you. Well done. As a bonus, I've finally learned what Ayedeeyew stands for! I missed it in your introductory post! Cheers, Mike.

Edited by Mike McLellan
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On ‎03‎/‎01‎/‎2016 at 18:53, Mike McLellan said:

It looks like your patience and determination have paid off handsomely. You seem to have envisioned the end result right from the beginning, and remained focused until the end result was at hand. I can't think of anything that would improve your kit. Thanks for allowing us to walk through the process with you. Well done. As a bonus, I've finally learned what Ayedeeyew stands for! I missed it in your introductory post! Cheers, Mike.

Thanks for the compliments Mike, I'm glad to see I'm not just talking to myself and what I'm doing is of interest to others :).

I do continue to make the odd minor tweak when I can to improve things, the horrible modern replica duty-armlet in nylon I originally used on my jacket (and used to light up horribly under flash photography) is long gone for example, replaced for an original (the replicas just don't compare).

Getting the 1897 jackets and greatcoat done will be relatively easy, it is the little things like trying to get the correct helmet plate numbers (or the letter H) that will be the real challenge! The broad strokes are simple, the devil is in the detail...

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  • 2 weeks later...

The last few days have seen me busy with the needle and thread, so plenty of updates to come...

As a little taster, after the last of the buttons arrived, they were sorted by maker and condition, and then given a light wash. This allowed me to select the best buttons for the coat, with a few in reserve as spares:



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And to begin the updates...

As I mentioned on another thread recently, for several years I have been looking into replicating the style of frockcoat worn by the Metropolitan Police as worn on certain occasions at the tale end of the 19th/beginning of the 20th century. I found this something of a challenge, as by the mid-20th century standard issue Police greatcoats had so far evolved in style, material and various other ways as to be useless to me, even with the possibility of modifying something. So I needed something in a similar style as seen below:

Typical very late 19th century illustration:



London Police c.1903:



Typical slightly later version (late 1900's/early 1910's):



As can be seen, even in this short period of time the frockcoats were subject to minor change, with the buttons down the front gradually flaring out further towards the top with the passage of time.



One thing that quickly caught my eye on Ebay was the use by the army of very similarly patterned frockcoats until at least relatively recently, generally more senior officers but also by Bandmasters. Though not uncommon on Ebay, they were usually either far too heavily priced to be considered viable, or far too small to be of use. So the waiting game began...

And finally my patience paid off - the following jacket appeared on Ebay at an extremely reasonable price, but with terrible pictures (the first two below are from the original auction), and the seller didn't respond to my questions. So I took a small gamble, and after some minor counter bids in exchange for £30.05 at the end I was the proud owner of:





And on me - an excellent fit:



This became a Christmas present from my father. In general it was an excellent match for what I was looking to replicate, the change over to the horn buttons and adding the collar badges shown already being relatively simple. Repairing the damage to the right cuff and adding Duty Armlet loops to the left could be a more difficult matter. Only time would tell...




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The Duty Armlet loops seemed a good place to start. An appeal for some scraps of similar material on Ebay got no reply. So I asked Hainsworths for some of their samples of similar materials - and one proved an excellent match. Some cutting and sewing on the machine later, and I had my two loops, plus some spare material - one to keep for reference purposes, the other for using in patching the tear:



The loops were then tacked onto the left cuff so they held the Armlet the regulation 3-inches above the cuff.

On the left cuff, I cut a small piece of the remaining sample material, and used needle and thread to lightly hold it in place (so it would not be free to fall down between the outer and inner material) as I carefully inserted it behind the tear so as to reinforce the damaged area and also potentially help hide any colour difference (the exposed lining being bright white). I then heavily overstitched the tear (making sure several of the stitches caught the lower material to permanently hold it in place) until I was satisfied with the result. The original tacking stitches were then removed.

The left sleeve also had various remains of stitching from now absent military badges. This was carefully removed. Both cuffs were then ironed through a damp cloth - leaving them looking as follows. Quite a change for the better already!



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Next I removed the medal ribbon bar - no easy task, having been sewn on by a machine very thoroughly through the whole thickness of the frockcoat! This done, I repeated the ironing through a damp cloth, which eliminated most of the traces of its presence that had been left.

So begin the "easy" part - changing over the buttons.

The buttons and tabs for epaulettes were removed permanently, the shoulders getting the iron and damp cloth treatment again to remove marks.

Each remaining Hampshire Regiment button was then removed one at a time, all old stitching being removed, and the horn buttons stitched on. I started with the four on the lower back, then the six functioning buttons on the front, leaving it looking like this at the half-way point:



A lot more hours later, and voila:





Buttons now fully changed over to horn, and collar numbers added as well. I also tweaked the collar closing a little to get a better fit, a previous wearer having loosened the top quite considerably at some point. I should point out I have no evidence such Police frockcoats ever had cuff-buttons, but as this was now pierced for them and I had horn buttons in the right size I decided to make use of them.

In due course I hope to get some pictures of me wearing it with the rest of the appropriate kit.

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  • 2 months later...

Another few months on, and a few more updates...

My Great War era kit is nearly done, but there are a couple of minor hurdles to overcome.

First my 1897 pattern jacket is approaching completion. The only thing I am lacking now is a decent matched pair of pocket sized buttons to finish it. What I have is:



If anyone has a pair or an example that matches one of the two on the right I have already got that they would be happy to part with please let me know. The group of six tunic buttons are reproductions available through the Ragged Victorians:


I am aware of a set of originals on Ebay, but although the Buy-It-Now price is very reasonable the P+P listed from the US to the UK is completely extortionate, and the seller hasn't responded to any messages asking about this:



My helmet plate has advance another original no.1 and a later letter H which will work with a little modification until such time as I can find an original. I am still lacking a no.7, and have four x 0's, two x 6/9's and one x 8 to swap or trade for one. Ideally looking for the 12-13mm high type with lugs pierced for being held in place with a pin rather than the folding prongs if possible but anything suitable will be given consideration.





Edited by ayedeeyew
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  • 2 weeks later...

Another update - my 1906 to 1930's plate is finally complete! The last number was fitted to the plate, and the plate then fitted to the helmet I had prepared earlier. Just like the other original fittings it's now held firmly in place by short sections of matchsticks:







And alongside my earlier pattern helmet:



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  • 1 month later...

Time for another update - finally finished my 1897 jacket. This was a based on an original probably interwar RA dress blue jacket that I had professionally converted to more closely resemble the correct pattern:









So now I have all the basics to get my WW1 Police kit in use. Only took about 6 years in the end... took advantage of the nice weekend to get some shots in wear done.

In tunic:



And with frockcoat added for night use:



Edited by ayedeeyew
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  • 1 year later...
1 hour ago, CSK69 said:

Hi there. I was wondering how you made out with the 19th century, White Chappel helmet badge. Ive been trying to find one myself, and its very difficult. 

My copy came from a maker called Neil Storey, if you are on Facebook he can be contacted through:


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  • 6 months later...

Mr. Storey no longer makes the Whitechapel helmet badge. I contacted him recently and he stated he had sold the mould.  No word on who has it or if they are producing the plates. Does anyone know of another source for these?

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