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Brian Wolfe

Staffordshire Police - a history and items from my collection

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Hello Everyone,

For quite a while now I have been going to write a short history of the Staffordshire Police and feature specimens from my collection. I have finally gotten around to this and here it is.

I started to collect to the Staffordshire Police quite by chance when a fellow collector, Jeff Cowdell, and then serving member of the Staffordshire Police sent me a Staffordshire custodian helmet. Jeff had no idea that he would also kindle an interest in British Police headgear and while I'm not sure my wife has yet forgiven him I have him to thank for an interesting collecting journey. I must also thank (blame) our fellow GMIC members, Mervyn Mitton and Stuart Bates for my addiction.

STAFFORDSHIRE POLICE

The foundations for the Staffordshire Police were laid in October of 1842 when it was decided at the Court of Quarter Sessions at Stafford that a Chief Constable should be appointed for a County Constabulary. This Constabulary was divided into three districts.

1. A mining district in the south of the county which would include the towns of Bilston, Willenhall, West Bromwich, Wednesbury, Smithwick and Handsworth.
The South Staffordshire Constabulary had been formed in 1840 to police the above area but was amalgamated with the new force.

2. A pottery district in the North including the six pottery towns of Tunstall, Burslem, HAnely, Stoke, Fenton and Longton.

3. An area known as the Rural District took the remaining areas of the county.

This excluded the four towns which already had police forces: Stafford, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Walsall and Tamworth.

The first Chief Constable, Mr. John Hayes Hatton, 1842 - 1857, was appointed on 6 December 1842. He was 47 years old and a professional policeman.

The uniform was originally a swallow tail coat and top hat which was replaced in the mid 1860s by a frock coat and kepi for daytime duties. A helmet was worn at night and in wet weather conditions. Other police forces preferred the helmet for all occasions.

In 1894 the Chief Constable of the time, Captain the Honourable George Agustus Anson R.A.,C.B.E., M.V.O., D.L. (appointed in 1888) established the first detective branch for the force. These plain cloths officers were known as Enquiry Officers.

The First World War brought with it a need for manpower to fill the vacancies created by officers leaving the force to enlist in the armed forces. All leave was cancelled for the duration and men were not allowed to retire. The Police Reserve, consisting of men who had recently retired, was called into active duty and the Special Constabulary was formed. The Police Reserve served in a full-time capacity while the "Specials" were a part-time force. The Special Constabulary was maintained after the War to provide support to the regular police officers.

The Second World War again saw a need for replacement officers and the Police Reserve and the Special Constabulary stepped up to fill the void left by the officers enlisting in the armed forces. After WWII the Police Reserve was disbanded, however, the Special Constabulary continued to serve.

The Mounted Branch was established in 1919 under Chief Inspector William Dalkins. The Mounted Branch served until 2000 when it was disbanded. I'll discuss the Mounted Branch in more detail later on in the post after a new item for the collection arrives.

The Motor Transport and Patrol Branch was formed in 1930 under Chief Constable Colonel Sir Herbert Hunter, Kt., C.B., C.B.E., K.P.M. 1929 - 1951. This was followed by the introduction of motor cycles in 1960 for Traffic Patrol. This was either under Chief Constable Colonel George Hern, C.B.E., O.St.J, K.P.M., D.L. 1951 - 1960 or Chief Constable Mr. Stanley Peck, C.B.E., O.St.J.,B.E.M.,Q.P.M.,D.L. 1960 - 1964. More reserch will be required on this point.

The first women police officers in Staffordshire were Lily Broadhead and Gertrude Cowley who were appointed to Stoke-on-Trent Bourough in 1921. Miss Cowley resigned in 1924 but Miss Broadhead continued to serve until 1952 retiring with the rank of Sergeant. It should be noted that women did serve during the Great War (1914 - 1918) but strong opposition kept them from being made a permanent appointment. The counties continued to resist employing Police Women until 1944. Under Chief Constable Mr. Arthur Rees, C.B.E.,K.St.J., Q.P.M., D.L., M.A. 1964 - 1977 the restrictions as to what areas of police service to which women could be employed was lifted in 1976.

The Staffordshire Police as we know it today (formally, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Constabulary) was formed on 1 April 1974 with the amalgamation of:

Stafford County Police
Borough of Newcastle under Lyme Police
City of Lichfield Police
Stoke on Trent City Police
and
The Staffordshire Constabulary.

This helmet was issued to 2080 Staffordshire PC Stephen Alan BIRCH who served on the force from Sept. 1973 until his retirement in 2003, a 30 year career. I will post the rest of my Staffordshire collection in the new Gallery section if I can figure it out. Changes and old men don't always go smoothly.

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I thought I would also post a photo of where this helmet resides.

I built a glass display box to store the helmet away from dust and the hands of every visitor to my collection room who thinks trying on a British Police Helmet and then uttering some dumb sentence in a bad British-like accent is the height of humorous endeavor. Ok, so it is a little funny but DON'T TOUCH MY COLLECTION!!!!

Regards

Brian

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Dear Brian - a nice helmet and with good enamelling. I quite understand why you keep it behind glass - everyone, and their dog, wants to put on a British helmet. When I was in the Met. I was a home-beat officer - nowdays, I think they call them Community Officers. I had an area with some 20000 people and it included 4 schools - if I gave talks, the kids always wanted to play with the helmet, so, how did I get around this - bearing in mind that even in the '70's head lice were a problem - I used to take any spare one from the locker room...

Should you be interested to add to your Staffordshire collection , I have a rare 'Noddy' helmet I would be willing to sell for a fair price. This helmet has re-inforcing and a leather chin strap that is in two parts. For a short period Velocette motor cycles were introduced for Beat patrols. The officers didn't have to have full training and it was thought they would make getting around easier. They were not a success and didn't last long, which makes this rare - I also have one for the Met. - and yes, the name does come from Enid Blyton.

Look forward to seeing your other pieces.

Mervyn

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Mervyn,

The Home Beat has gone. You would now be a member of a "Safer Neighbourhood" team. Each ward on a Borough has a Skipper 2 P.C's and numerous community support officers ( Civilians ).

Saying that we did get a new Commisioner this month so they will probaly reinvent the wheel again and bring back home beats.

Craig

P.S where was your home beat?

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I was in 'H' Div. stationed at Bethnal Green - I nearly resigned when I was first posted - I had delusions of grandeur and wanted 'B' and Knightbridge - in fact I greatly enjoyed the East End and found the real East Enders genuinely nice people.

Where are you stationed ? My favourite Comm. was Sir Robert Marks - he was put in to shake up the Met. and he certainly did that. Change is inevitable, but we 'oldies' don't have to agree - read Brian's comment above. Best wishes

Mervyn

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Hello Everyone,

Here is an obsolete Helmet Plate of the Staffordshire County and Stoke on Trent Constabulary. I really like the green enamel work on this plate, It is followed in the second photo by a hat badge also from the Staffordshire County and Stoke on the Trent Constabulary. Both have the Queen's Crown.

Thanks for looking I hope you like them.

Regards

Brian

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Brian, both Queen's crown and good examples. I always think it is good to collect for one Force. I will post the 'Noddy' helmet later and you can let me know if you have any interest? (I'm not sure how to reply on My Asst.)

Mervyn

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Brian, both Queen's crown and good examples. I always think it is good to collect for one Force. I will post the 'Noddy' helmet later and you can let me know if you have any interest? (I'm not sure how to reply on My Asst.)

Mervyn

Thanks Mervyn,

You can also use my email address, brian.wolfe@sympatico.ca

Regards

Brian

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Hello Everyone,

Here is an example of an obsolete helmet plate from the Staffordshire County Police service. This plate with its Queen's Crown measures 45mm wide and 80mm in height. The green enamel is a lot darker than the photo shows, in fact it looks almost black. The plate was held on the helmet with a pin that ran through two lugs or loops.

I am posting these Staffordshire police items on the collector's gallery as well.

Regards

Brian

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Here are two Staffordshire County hat badges that would have been issued to a Constable. They both measure 32 mm wide and 50mm in height. The badges were held in place by a slider which is evident in the photo.

For those who don't know, the King's Crown is the one on the left and the Queen's Crown on the right.

Regards

Brian

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Hello Everyone,

Here is an example of a helmet plate as used by the Staffordshire Police. The Staffordshire knot is gold rather than the usual silver. The Plate with its Queen's Crown measures 95mm wide and 120mm in height. The plate is held to the helmet by a large screw device which denotes it as the second issue as the first issue has a three claw attachment arrangement and the first issue example in my collection has the familiar silver knot. There is a sharp pin on the back of the crown to prevent the plate from getting out of alignment which is not necessary with the first issue (three claw attachment) or double loop arangement seen on the pre -amalgamation plates.

Regards

Brian

Edited by Brian Wolfe

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Mervyn,

I've mostly been South London with a period in Central London so I got to be posh in C division, Now I am in a CO department still mainly South but have been spending quite a bit of time on your old manor. Not so much the east end now as the wild west what with the guns!!

As for collecting Job not much really a couple of Jubillee Police medals collected as the recepients worked on a couple of my old divisions.

Saying that I suppose some of my original uniform is getting quite rare now Ive got a couple of car coats still in the wrapper and a ahem unread copy of Mr Newmans little blue book.

Craig

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Dear Craig - I thought you might be Met. - can I be 'cheeky' and ask your rank , you've obviously got a few years service behind you? When I was at HB, I leased a flat from the Crown Estate - just the other side of Victoria Park - it was unfurnished and as you know those don't happen today. The old manageress of the estate like the idea of a uniform in the area - she also gave me a relic sword - two handed sword from the Crusades, found in Cyprus and possibly Richard 1st. period. Like a fool I gave up the lease a few years ago , when I could no longer climb stairs - we live and learn.

Mervyn

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Brian - I have some photos of the Staffordshire 'noddy' helmet and will post them in a day or so. Meanwhile, I think your posts have been very interesting and worthwhile - not enough is known about the County Forces. I have been trying to remember what is famous about the Staffordshire knot - if lovers each pull an end does it getter tighter ,or come loose ?

Mervyn

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All 3 in silver chromed finish? - (they look gold coloured on my screen).

They are in a silver finish not gold.

Sorry for the poor colour, I hadn't noticed it on my screen when I posted but now I view them again I see there is a slight gold hue.

Regards

Brian

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Brian - I have some photos of the Staffordshire 'noddy' helmet and will post them in a day or so. Meanwhile, I think your posts have been very interesting and worthwhile - not enough is known about the County Forces. I have been trying to remember what is famous about the Staffordshire knot - if lovers each pull an end does it getter tighter ,or come loose ?

Mervyn

Hello Mervyn and Leigh,

I have not heard of the story about the lovers but the story of being able to hang three men at one time is one I am familiar with. I have the full history of the Staffordshire knot somewhere in my files and I will post this story when I find it.

I would be very interested in see the 'noddy' helmet photos Mervyn, not to mention the possibility of adding one to my collection.

Regards

Brian

Edited by Brian Wolfe

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Hello Everyone,

Here is an obsolete Helmet Plate of the Staffordshire County and Stoke on Trent Constabulary.

Ah! memories, I'm a Stoke-on-Trent lad born and bred, thanks for posting, It seems odd to see these appearing from distant areas of the globe

regards

Alex

Edit, I seem to recall that earlier versions of the "Noddy" hat badge actually had the City's coat of arms in the centre (Same metal as the badge, not enamelled) instead of the "Staffordshire knot" and was a starburst and crown device, sorry this is best I can do

Edited by Alex K

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Ah! memories, I'm a Stoke-on-Trent lad born and bred, thanks for posting, It seems odd to see these appearing from distant areas of the globe

regards

Alex

Edit, I seem to recall that earlier versions of the "Noddy" hat badge actually had the City's coat of arms in the centre (Same metal as the badge, not enamelled) instead of the "Staffordshire knot" and was a starburst and crown device, sorry this is best I can do

Hi Alex,

I don't have any examples except for some photos of the Stoke-on-Trent helmet plates. Of the seven pictured (4 King's Crown & 3 Queen's Crown) all have the City's coat of arms.

Regards

Brian

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Hi Alex,

I don't have any examples except for some photos of the Stoke-on-Trent helmet plates. Of the seven pictured (4 King's Crown & 3 Queen's Crown) all have the City's coat of arms.

Regards

Brian

Hi Brian, pity no close ups, I clearly remember the "Boys in blue" with the early Stoke Noddy Helmet and badge, wagging a finger at me for not being ?a "Good Boy", they actually caught me having a crafty fag (Cigarette, and? under age ?by the local canal side.

As I mentioned, early memories, (I've have since, of course grown into an eminently responsible and trustworthy member of society!! :speechless1: )

regards

Alex

Edited by Alex K

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Hello Everyone,

Continuing with my theme of Staffordshire Police memorabilia I am posting three hat badges which I believe to be the current issue. They all have the Queen's Crown.

The first is the Police Constable issue. This badge was very difficult to photograph due to the plating being so bright. When I got this badge I opened it in my office on a very sunny day and could not see the wording on the badge at all. Of course it reads Staffordshire Police. The badge measures 33mm wide and 50mm in height and is held on the hat by a slider device. The slider is marked FIRMIN. LONDON.

Regards

Brian

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