1890 SETS

When the new Webley revolver and Lee Metford rifle were introduced into Naval service the opportunity to update the 1880 pattern webbing set was taken, ready use rounds were made more accessible in large numbers via the half bandoliers but the original 1888 pattern belt and 1880 large ammo bag were retained so they must have been satisfactory, all Enfield B.L. revolvers on Naval charge were passed to the Coastguard in 1892, this pattern of rifle set seems to have had its last major use at Antwerp in 1914 when it was worn by the new recruits of the Royal Naval Division who came straight from basic training at Deal camp in Kent (the Crystal Palace opened as the R.N.D. training depot just after the Belgian operation).

The 1890 belt mounted holsters were introduced for the new Webley .455s, if officers wore a sword the holster was on the right, the Mk III blanket carrier is worn.

The new Webley Mk I revolver was introduced into Royal Naval service in 1888 with around 20,000 being in use joined from 1896 by the simiar Mk II, declared obsolete in the 1930s all were discarded by 1947.

1890 webley MkI1890 webley MkII

The chunky all rivet holster held the Webley Mk I or the Webley Mk II, its belt loop was lengthened from 1894.

1890 holster front 1890 holster rear

A waist mounted cartridge carrier with four belt straps was used to carry 36 rounds in an upper and lower line of three groups of six under the flaps, when fully loaded this carrier is very heavy and the strain puts all of the belt rivets to work so falling out of a boat wearing one of these would have been a bit dicey.

1890 revolver bandolier front 1890 revolver bandolier open1890 revolver bandolier open full1890 revolver bandolier rear

The stoop inducing twin rifle cartridge carrier set is worn below with belt mounted water bottle and 1890 pouches

In this series the single half bandolier set is displayed with the strapped version water bottle and 1880 ammo bag and riveted 40 pouch at rear.

The cutlass set is shown below.

The more modern .303 inch Lee Metford rifle replaced the Martini Henry in Naval use from 1888 but struggled with the smokeless and corrosive cordite ammunition, this longer rifle had a shorter twelve inch blade bayonet, the example shown below was made by Wilkinson's in London in 1894.

1890 lee metford rifle plan1890 .303 lee metford ammo pack1890 lee metford bayonet

The Mk II cartridge belt developed for the 1888 set became the 1890 set belt

1890 belt

The braces Mk III were split three ways from the large brass ring and were again directly copied from the Army 1882 white valise pattern with 3 studs added to the braces, brass loops were riveted on first the front and from 1899 the rear to attach the blanket carrier straps, from 1894 onwards the 1880 braces were returned to be converted into Mk IIIs by home depots.

1890 braces

Two 25 round half bandoliers (their correct term was cartridge carriers rifle) could be worn with four rear straps that joined over the waist belt or a buckle and a stud hole to connect to the braces, the Mk I version had a buckle and strap on the left and a brass square beside the stud hole on the other end to allow them to be worn joined together around the waist belt but this capability was dropped by the following year and the brass square and strap were deleted, a small downwards steadying strap was also added (itself deleted in 1899) when only the top bandolier was worn the large 1880 ammo bag moved fward to the starboard side, the round leather discs covered the rear facing brass stud screws to protect the bullet heads from striking them.


1890 bandolier MkI empty1890 bandolier MkI full


1890 bandolier MkIII full1890 bandolier MkIII empty1890 bandolier MkIII rear


The original plans for this set included a single 40 round pouch shown below, it was to be worn on the left behind the water bottle behind the frog, the plan drawings show these pouches with brass stores number plates over the closure strap stitches a practice dropped for the previous 1888 sets then finally discontinued for good in 1894 in favour of internal ink stampings so 1890 pattern pouches made after that date lacked them.

In 1896 a Mk II version of the 40 round pouch was introduced with rivets replacing stitches, the simplified construction method (one continuous front, back, top, bottom) meant fewer rivets with just the sides bolted on, none of the larger ammunition pouches below were re-worked in this way due to the continued use of the large 1880 ammunition bag.

This larger 1890 Mk I .303 ammunition bag was also seen but with no mention of number of rounds capacity it was intended to either carry loose rounds to reload the bandoliers or carry the rifle tools, to be worn at the rear in the plan the initial version had pockets for a sight guard, jag, snap cap and protector as well as a loaded Lee Metford magazine but this mag pocket was deleted from 1893.

The 1880 pattern ammo bag was also used on this set for Martinis as the M.H. Mk III losing its internal tool pockets, re-worked in 1893 becoming the "bag, ammunition, leather, M.H. Mk IV", with a thick surround to support the closure stud, the example below made by W. Beckworth & Son is dated 1900 with a stores issue number on the flap, due to problems with the new Lee Metfords the Martini rifles remained in service longer than planned.

mh mkiv front1890 mh mkiv front open1890 mh mkiv rear openmh mkiv rear

A new Mk IV frog slightly larger but identical looking to its predecessor for swords, bayonets and cutlai was worn, the 1888 Mk III all rivet frog was deemed to be too tight for a cutlass/cutlass bayonet so was to be used up as a bayonet frog only with remaining 1880 Mk II sewn/riveted frogs used up for cutlasses/cutlass bayonets (these were previously only for bayonets or swords) confused yet ? as the older models wore out the Mk IV replaced them all.

1890 MkIV frog 1890 MkIV frog and bayonet

The first carrier for the new Army style round enamelled metal water bottle was slung from a thin and flimsy shoulder strap but this was withdrawn from October 1892.

1890 strap waterbottle

The Mk II round water bottle carrier was belt mounted, the second version of the bottle entered service in late 1890 and deleted the outside metal hoops, a Mk III carrier deleted the bottom square hole for the earlier bottles' metal hoop and was introduced in 1893.

As the top cartridge carrier prevented a blanket from being worn tied across the shoulder an overly complex blanket carrier was introduced for this set, not silly at all it had a square fame with straps and buckles and two swiveling tabs from which straps went over and under the arm to buckle to the front brace loops (yet to prevent it bouncing around it had to be laced under the belt).

Problems quickly led to this second variant with single wide tabs and holes for brace studs.

This was still not right so a third version with short buckles attaching to the rear brace loops was worn by officers in the Far East in 1900.


The white canvas haversack changed to a belt only fitting for this set and was longer and low slung.

The Naval ratings jumper became part of the uniform in 1906 replacing a smock type canvas top, the jean collar dates from 1838 and the silk cap tally was officially introduced in 1868, undetected crime stripes were first seen in 1849 and sennet hats for tropical service were discarded in 1921 for pith helmets.