This photograph was found on a well know auction site and bought by a group of retired officers for the archive.
The photograph came with a few questions attached:
- Do we know who the officer is?
- Do we have a list of collar numbers?
- Did Gloucestershire Constabulary ever where helmets of that design as no one remembered seeing the cockscomb design before?
The answers were
- Unfortunately we don’t know who the officer was
- We have a list of collar numbers but they are are not complete. It is further complicated by the fact that the officer had a unique joining number but their collar number was recycled as it corresponded to the number of officers on the force.
- We were not sure about the helmets but further research has led to lots of information.
Original officers wore stove pipe hats as seen in the photograph above.
We knew that helmets started to be worn about 1867 but there were few photographs from the time and they were mostly undated.
We had these photographs of Charles Mason in the different types of headgear. We know that he served from 1850 until 1886.
The photograph above is entitled The Originals and dated 1870 although this is not confirmed but what is clear is that the helmets have the cockscomb.
A newspaper report shows when the new helmet was first worn in public
From the Gloucester Journal 7th April 1866.
It looks from a very poor photograph as if the helmet has changed to the familiar pattern by the mid 1870s but we will keep researching.
The next thing to try to find out is when the photographer F Deane was in business in Winchcomb Street Cheltenham which may help us to narrow the date down.
Frederick Deane is in the Cheltenham Census between 1861 and 1891 as a photographer living at 32 Winchcomb Street but the Cheltenham Journal in March 1861 features a court case where he is reported to be employed by Ellen Hendly who has a photographic room in Pittville Street.
Cheltenham Street directories between 1872 and 1884 list him as having a business at that address but not in 1887 which hasn’t helped much dating the photograph.