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The early part of Queen Victoria's Reign (1837 -) was beset by many riots and disturbences. The Industrial Revolutuon was under way - enclosures acts had restricted the rights of ordinary people to graze their animals and more importantly people were leaving the land in great numbers to work in the new factories. A recipe for disaster and one which the agitators took full advantage of.

The worst potential disaster was in fact the forerunner of a revolution - The Chartist Riots of the 1848 period. The new Police - from 1829 - were not in suffiecient numbers - or, well organised enough to cope. London was at greatest risk and over a million people were being mobilised to March and bring down organised society.

The Duke of Wellington stepped-in and raised over 200,000 Special Constables to defend London. People came forward from many different backgrounds - including senior City people and ordinary tradesmen. There were some battles in Manchester - but, probably because of the determination of Londoners the Chartists 'fizzled' away and the conflict was kept under control.

The City of London raised large numbers and their truncheons from this period are painted black - with the red cross of the City on a white background and in the left top quarter an upright dagger. As I said many S.C.'s were Gentlemen in high positions and felt it was their duty.

With the truncheon I am showing here - there is more to the story. Halfway down on the reverse are the Royal Arms - post 1837. Right at the bottom is a Portcullis - or raising gate that protected castles. This represents the gate to the old Palace and had come to represent the Borough of Westminster - and, more importantly - The Houses Of Parliament. My interpretation is that after he left the City of London this man became a Member of Parliament. Tipstaffs and truncheons were often carried as marks of authority - and with the Royal Arms this would seem to be the case here.

A rare truncheon and the first time I have seen a Special Constable's marked for two distinct services.

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An extremely interesting artifact Mervyn.

I must admit to being a bit envious...an S.C truncheon, very nice.

Thanks for posting it.



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I don't collect to the police but I always enjoy reading the posts and seeing such photos

Thanks Mervyn.


P.S.: I just bought some postcards dating to the late 19th/early 20th century and one of the cards shows the police outside Camberwell station, I'll have to scan it when it arrives.

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    I'm resurrecting this thread, rather than begin a new one, because I miss, very much, the debates that Mervyn inspired on a myriad range of topics, and the valuable information he patiently bequeathed to the rest of us. 

   I have, in my collection, a truncheon quite similar to the one that he displayed above. They share some of the same elements,  but I have reached a somewhat different conclusion about mine. There is no maker's stamp and it clearly is a one-off created by a fairly skillful artisan commemorating a gentleman's participation an a Special Constable, as well as, what I believe was, an earlier career as a Policeman with the Metropolitan Police. 


    Thousands responded to provided much needed security for the prison system, the criminal courts, and the City of London in general. I've seen quite a few truncheons commemorating the events of 1868, but this one (and Mervyn's) are especially cool. Along with the London Arms and the Royal Coat of Arms with the garter, they both have a Shield displaying a Portcullis, which in addition to being a symbol of the Houses of Parliament as Mervyn pointed out, is also a symbol of the City of Westminster. Before the Metropolitan Police was formally granted its own coat of arms, it routinely used the Portcullis of Westminster argent on azure bound with a double Tressure flory and crested with a sheaf of 3 arrows (from the Peel family arms) and riband (See cup & saucer liberated from the Hendon mess hall). 


    The Portcullis is bordered by M P which I feel confident represents the Metropolitan Police. The inclusion of the London Arms amidst an S C strongly suggests that the owner, after a career as a copper in the Met, answered the call for Specials to, once again, do his duty, and perhaps give one of those rapscallions from the Emerald Isle a good drubbing, should the need arise!


       As always, alternative hypotheses are more than welcome. After almost 50 years of unholy matrimony, I've become accustomed to being "proven" wrong. Cheers, Mike.


By the way, it's -33F outside at the moment. 



Edited by Mike McLellan

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 I see, after re-reading this post, that a fairly lengthy paragraph disappeared. The call to arms was in response to the unpleasantness at Clerkenwell Prison, resulting in a dozen deaths and many dozens of injuries. Thousands of Specials were recruited to bolster security at the prisons, the Central Criminal Courts, and the City of London in general. Like the disturbance twenty years prior, the Fenian riots illustrated how crucial the Special Constabulary is in a time of turmoil. 

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