Style meets safety as Queen’s hat maker merges with helmet manufacturer

The velvet-covered Patey PROtector combines the style and tradition of a Patey with the modern safety standards of a PROtector.
The velvet-covered Patey PROtector combines the style and tradition of a Patey with the modern safety standards of a PROtector.

History and style have come together with the latest in safety after a merger between a renowned British hatmaker and a manufacturer of the highest-safety-rated riding helmet in the world.

Patey London Ltd, makers of the iconic velvet Patey hunting cap and hatmakers to the Queen of England, have merged with PROtector, which makes a super-strong safety helmet with a carbon fibre reinforced outer shell.

William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning, second place after the dressage.
William Fox-Pitt, pictured on Chilli Morning, is a regular user of Patey hats. © Nigel Goddard

The new company will continue to produce both lines, as well as the velvet-covered Patey PROtector, a helmet that combines the style and tradition of a Patey with the modern safety standards of a PROtector.

“Patey hats have always made men handsome and women beautiful,” said new CEO James Bebbington, “because they are bespoke and sculpted to the shape of each individual’s unique head shape. However, as a result of this handmade totally bespoke method, they can’t be tested for current safety regulations, and so can’t be used in some competitions.

“The merging of Patey’s classic velvet riding hat with the exceptional safety of the PROtector has to be a natural.”

Patey Hats can trace its roots back over 300 years through its founders, the French Huguenot Corne family, who arrived in London in 1695, bringing with them the skills of Parisian hat making.

Patey supply hats for the Royal household, The Lord Mayor, London’s finest hotels, Olympic showjumper Shane Breen, Olympic eventer William Fox-Pitt, and others. Each hat is an example of the Best of British, handmade by skilled craftsmen in Patey’s London factory.

Patey PROtector helmets were first developed by Ian Beattie, then an official for Head Safety with British Eventing, at the request of Olympic gold-medal-winning showjumper Peter Charles. After years of research and development, PROtector began producing the highest-safety-rated riding helmet in the world, with patented Safety Standard Snell E2001 technology, which meets all the highest current standards of competition regulation.

The PROtector helmet has an immensely strong carbon fibre reinforced outer shell and a high-density liner which can take huge impacts. It is lightweight, and has a fitting system to ensure the helmet is secure on a rider’s head. The helmets are subjected to the most stressful standard safety tests in the world, as well as a unique test simulating a hit to the head from a flying hoof or rail.

 “Peter had a bad fall and came to ask me if I could develop a safe helmet for him that would also be lightweight and comfortable,” said Beattie, now MD of Parkgate Equestrian Ltd.

“After years of research and development, PROtector was born. We are two truly British and British-made brands, and this merger brings together two complementary riding hat and helmet-making traditions to give our customers the best of both worlds.”

As a special offer celebrating the merger, the Patey PROtector will be available at a 15% discount at the Patey showroom in London on Ilderton Road, off the Old Kent Road until the end of March.

The video below shows the making of a Patey hunt cap.

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