Traditional headgear of the Bobby on the Beat
A Custodian Helmet is also known as a Policeman’s Helmet or Centurion Helmet and technically known as a ‘Home Office Pattern Helmet’. The Custodian Helmet is worn by policemen in England and Wales as the traditional headgear of the ‘Bobby on the beat’, worn by constables and sergeants on foot patrol. A Peaked Cap is worn by officers on mobile patrol in cars.
The Custodian Helmet is also worn by the British Transport Police and Ministry of Defence Police, the States of Jersey Police, the States of Guernsey Police Service, the Isle of Man Constabulary, the Royal Gibraltar Police, and the Bermuda Police. Special Constables are also issued with Custodian Helmets.
The wearing of Custodian Helmets led to CID (Criminal Investigation Department) calling their uniformed colleagues ‘woodentops’.
The Custodian Helmet was adopted by the Metropolitan Police in 1863 to replace the Top Hat formerly worn, and other forces soon followed suit. The Custodian Helmet’s design was influenced by the Pickelhaube.
The Custodian Helmet is made of cork covered by felt or serge-like material to match the tunic. Inside, the brim is faced with a plain material and a leather headband adjusts the fit.
A comb and crest, a ball or a simple helmet boss adorns the top of the helmet whilst some forces used to have spikes on top. A thin chinstrap keeps the helmet on with some helmets having an additional double strap with chin cup for more strenuous activity.
All forces apart from the City of London Police, Hampshire Constabulary and West Mercia Constabulary use the Brunswick Star as the basis for their helmet plate. The eight-pointed Brunswick Star is composed of narrow rays and used in the United Kingdom to surround the Royal Cypher on various badges, such as that worn on the caps and helmets of almost all police and fire services in England and Wales. The name Brunswick refers to the German Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg, better known as the principality of Hanover, which was ruled by the House of Hanover whose heads also became monarchs of Great Britain.
Helmets closely following the British model were widely worn by the police forces of Canada, Australia and New Zealand from the late nineteenth century on until they were replaced. The New Zealand Police retained a white version until the 1990s.
Other names for a Custodian Helmet
- Policeman’s Helmet
- Police Helmet
- Bobby’s Helmet
- Home Office Pattern Helmet
- Centurian Helmet
Famous Custodian Helmet wearers
- Dixon of Dock Green
- PC Plod
- PC Nick Rowan (Heartbeat)
Custodian Helmet fancy dress ideas
- British Bobby