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Iconic accessories: Get ahead, get a hat

Tim Britton
June 1, 2013
1956 Manx helmet from J Compton, Sons & Webb

Trials riders notwithstanding – where the cloth cap reigned supreme for years after the helmet law – there was a reticence on the public’s part to wear a helmet for fear of being labelled ‘racer’.

Gradually though the idea of having something between the hairstyle and the public highway in the event of an accident caught on.

There has always been some dispute over what material is best for a safety helmet and there is a fine line between a helmet so heavy it causes neck trauma and a light one being strong enough to do the job. Carbon fibre is the material of choice these days – light and tough – but when this Manx helmet from J Compton, Sons & Webb came on the market in 1956 resin impregnated asbestos material for the shell and a ¼in cork lining were considered the way forward.

A webbing harness provided adjustment and a leather headband with sponge rubber backing provided comfort. It isn’t easy to see from the sketch but the helmet came in white with a black peak and the price for this headwear style? A snip at 55s – younger readers can marvel at this being £2.75. bike

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