As with the Colonial pattern of Foreign Service Helmet which preceded the Wolseley cork was the original material used, but because of wartime shortages of cork and the increased demand alternative materials were sought.
Colonial pattern helmets were manufactured from wicker with sola pith and from cork with felt to compensate for shortages of cork. Both straw and felt were used in the manufacture of Wolseleys with felt being used up to 1942. Only two straw Wolseleys are known to survive and are in the author’s collection.
Note the method of fixing the ventilator cap into straw, and felt, helmets which consisted of four tabs affixed to the cap which were passed through a securing plate and then bent over to hold the cap in place. This method was used because the straw construction was insufficiently strong to support the brass collet method used in cork helmets.
St. Albans, Hertfordshire, was once an important centre of the straw plaiting and hat-making industries, as was nearby Luton in Bedfordshire. By the 1930s most of the straw hat factories had closed down because of changes in fashion and foreign competition and the St. Albans straw hat industry went into terminal decline.