In the 1950s and 1960s the British Army was looking at adopting new materials including plastic and vinyl that required less maintenance than traditional materials such as leather. Many items of parade equipment were updated to be made from vinyl as these did not need to be polished or cleaned in the same way as leather would. One of these items to be produced in the new materials was the traditional ‘Slade Wallace’ belt:
The belt retains the large brass clasp buckle, here with the Queen’s crown in the centre:
The vinyl is particularly thick and the length is adjusted using a brass buckle and vinyl keepers- the belt passing through the end of the buckle, doubled back on itself and secured with the buckle:
An oval piece of vinyl is fitted behind the buckle in the same manner as the older leather belt:
The similarity of the two patterns can be seen when the old Slade Wallace belt is placed next to the later vinyl example:
Officially the belt would be replaced with a woven polyethylene belt in 1969, but probably remained in service for several years after. Here the belt can be seen being worn on parade in 1960:
We had vinyl ‘full dress’ belts, they scuffed easily and were a bugger to try and keep clean since dirt settled in every little scratch and trying to get it out only made it worse. From a few feet away they looked great but at SWO’s pre-parade inspection range ? not so much. Toothpaste and a very soft brush seemed to work but could dull the shine with too much pressure, the ‘green gel’ handcleaner was better if you were very careful.