Australian police custodian helmets

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Australian police custodian helmets

Post  ChrisF202 on Sun 20 Mar 2011, 12:10 pm

Did the Australian police ever wear custodian helmets or pith helmets? If so when were this practice stopped? I know that the New Zealand Police wore pith helmets until the 1990s. I know some of the Commonwealth Caribbean police forces continue to wear pith helmets as part of their dress uniform. In addition several British overseas territory (Bermuda and Gibraltar) and crown dependency (Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey) police forces continue to wear the custodian helmet. Both Anguilla and the Cayman Islands (both overseas territories) police wear the pith helmet as part of their dress uniform.

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Re: Australian police custodian helmets

Post  Sean on Sun 20 Mar 2011, 4:55 pm

Queensland police certainly wore a sun helmet for a period, with their mounted escort also wearing maroon jackets. NSW police also wore a sun helmet in the 1920s 1930s. Victorian police wore a black (winter) and white (summer) helmet for many years. Have to check on the others. The shako was the favoured early headdress with the peaked cap coming in generally early in the 20th century

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Re: Australian police custodian helmets

Post  ChrisF202 on Mon 21 Mar 2011, 5:11 am

Interesting Sean, thank you! Very Happy

Would you happen to have any pictures?

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Re: Australian police custodian helmets

Post  buistR on Mon 21 Mar 2011, 1:45 pm

Hi Chris - New Zealand police certainly wore helmets of the classic British style until the 1990s but they were made of some form of plastic and stiffened cloth combination - not the pith helmet of Empire days. For daytime wear they were white so they needed to be moisture proof for frequent cleaning (and of course not to get soggy in the rain). At night they were the same medium blue as the rest of the NZ police uniform introduced in the late 1970s - replacing the dark navy blue worn previous to that time. White New Zealand police helmets were worn as summer issue between the Wars and these may well have been made of pith (i.e. spongy cellular tissue from plant stems) - these were discarded when the white dye proved to be prone to melting during hot weather.

I do remember that there was some controversy when the more recent helmets were discarded - they suited the respected bobby image popular with police and public alike. The NZ Police Association argued for their retention for formal occasions but in the end a combination of cost, skin cancer (they didn't provide much shade) and dislike by younger constables (who felt they looked silly wearing them) killed off this traditional item of uniform. The helmets were sold as curiosities and replaced by broad brimmed slouch hats of the Australian model and peaked caps of the universal police style. So far not much sign of the "beannie" style cap which seems to be becoming the norm elsewhere.

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Re: Australian police custodian helmets

Post  Animal on Tue 22 Mar 2011, 1:45 pm

Chris, you might also want to check out the film Ned Kelly, which starred Mick Jagger as the 19th Century outlaw. The police in the film are wearing pith helmets.

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