The Helmet Doctors


The Birth of Motorcycle Helmets

The Birth of Motorcycle Helmets can be placed back to Dr. Eric Gardner, a medical officer at Brookland’s race track in early 1914, where he noticed that he was seeing motorcyclists with head injuries every two weeks.


He tasked Mr. Moss of Bethnal Green to make canvas and shellac helmets stiff enough to withstand a heavy blow while being smooth enough to deflect any projections it encountered.


He presented the design to the Auto-Cycle Union in the UK, where it was initially condemned, but later converted to the idea and made it compulsory for the 1914 Isle of Man TT races. It was recognised that one of these helmets saved the life of a rider who had collided with a gate while riding on the Isle of Man. Gardner took 94 of the helmets to the island.


After the T.T riding event., Dr. Gardner received a letter from the Isle of Man medical officer stating that they normally have “several interesting concussion cases,” but in 1914 there were none. As you can imagine with anything new, there was resistance from riders at the beginning, however, the need for safety was evident to ensure & mandate the birth and placement of motorcycle helmets in the history books.


Fast forward to May 1935 when T. E. Lawrence (known as Lawrence of Arabia) was also instrumental to the evolution and birthing of the use of motorcycle helmets. Lawrence of Arabia had a crash on a Brough Superior SS100 on a narrow road near his cottage near Wareham. The accident happened because he could not see two boys riding bicycles. After all, a dip in the road obscured his view. Lawrence lost control when he swerved to avoid them and was thrown over the handlebars. He was not wearing a helmet and was left in a coma for six days after the accident.

Hugh Cairns, a neurosurgeon who attended Lawrence at the time of his death, began a long study of motorcycle dispatch riders whose deaths were caused by head injuries after Lawrence died. As a result of Cairns’ research, both military and civilian motorcyclists now wear crash helmets.


It was because of the shock & fame of Lawrence’s sudden death departure, that it once again placed a spotlight on the need for motorcycle helmets to be used in the prevention of preventable deaths and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI’s).


The Birth of F1 Helmets