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PeterStokes

Metropolitan Police Dockyard Division?

10 posts in this topic

ID: 1   Posted

Hello everyone. This is my first post and I hope someone here can help me. I am particularly interested in the police and fire services serving in the Royal Dockyards both in the UK and overseas.

I have recently acquired the photograph shown below and I must admit that it is causing me some confusion. I purchased it in the belief that it was a member of one of the Metropolitan Police Dockyard Divisions. This seems to be borne out by the three items on his collar - his number, the anchor and a Victorian Queen's Crown. I gather that all constables and sergeants of the Dockyard Divisions wore their number, an anchor and a Crown on their collar. The fact that the image came from Devonport also seemed to support my belief.

What is causing me some confusion is his headgear. I have only ever seen images of the Metropolitan Police other ranks serving in the dockyards wearing helmets. I have never seen one wearing a cap - at least not from this period. Also, whilst I am familiar with the various helmet plates worn by the Met Police Dockyard Divisions I have never seen this particular cap badge before - although it does seem to conform to the Dockyard Division design in including a Crown and the sloping anchor.

Is this man a constable or is he an officer? And if he is an officer, why does he have a number on his collar? I have never seen other Metropolitan Police officers wearing a collar number and neither have I seen any wearing a similar cap. And if he isn't a Dockyard Division police officer what is he? Any help would be appreciated!

Pete

get_img.jpg

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ID: 2   Posted (edited)

I think you will find that he is a member of the Dockyard Police Band. See the appended group photo of the Devonport Dockyard Met. Police Band which is taken some years, I would suggest, after yours. As you can see, they are all wearing senior officer style caps. Their badge appears to be a KC crowned star with an applied lyre in the centre. I hope this is helpful. Your Pc 52 may indeed be in this photo.

Dave.

 

Met. Police. Devonport Dyard Band 1920.jpg

Edited by Dave Wilkinson

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ID: 3   Posted

Hello Dave,

Many thanks for the suggestion! I hadn't considered that he might be a member of the Dockyard Police Band. It's a possibility, although the cap badge is very different. I know that the Police Band often played an important role with the dockyard - playing at launchings , etc., so I suppose he could have posed in his bandsman's cap rather than his normal helmet.

I have considered another alternative. The Dockyard Police operated a Water Branch to patrol the waters around the dockyard. In Devonport the police officers serving in the Water Branch lived in an old hulk, HMS Leda, with their families. Initially their patrols were undertaken in rowing boats, although they later had steam pinnaces. I wouldn't think that a police helmet would have been the most appropriate headgear for operating boats around the dockyard and that a cap might have been better suited. That might also explain why the cap badge is more like a variant of the helmet plate (sloping anchor and crown) than the bandsmans badge you have described.

However, although I have a lot of information concerning the living conditions and the work undertaken by members of the Water Branch I have not been able to find any photographs of them at work, so the above is just guesswork on my part. I suppose it might be worth trying to find some pictures of the river police operating on the Thames to see what sort of headgear they were wearing in the late-19th century.

Pete

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ID: 4   Posted

I think you will find that he is a bandsman. The various divisions of the Metpol. invariably all had their own band. Although they wore their everyday uniforms their headgear often differed as indeed did the cap badges. These were privately purchased from band funds and were not Metpol. issue as such. 

As to the "water branch". They would have worn a very soft peaked cap without stiffening. The badge was a simple fouled anchor in metal. A very ornate cap such as your man is wearing would be totally out of keeping when traversing the waterway of a dockyard but worn by a bandsman would be quite impressive. I have a photograph of a Metpol. member of the Thames Div. wearing a cap such as that described. I will attach it later for your information.

Dave.

 

 

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ID: 5   Posted

Thanks Dave!

I didn't realise that bandsmans badges and headgear were privately purchased. That could very well be the answer. I had assumed that there was just a standard Metpol. issue bandsmans cap. And as it is such an elegant item of headgear I can see why he chose to pose in it rather than his helmet! As to the dockyard 'Water Branch' idea, to be honest I did think it was a rather ornate cap to wear to row a boat around the dockyard! I have seen the cap badge worn by the Thames Division, though not a good image of the cap so I appreciate you posting one later. 

So would the Dockyard Division officers serving in the dockyard Water Branch have worn the same badge as members of the Thames Division? If, so, that's another one for me to find for my collection as well as examples of the various band badges!

Once again many thanks.

Pete 

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ID: 6   Posted (edited)

Pete,

I'm attaching a photo of a Metpol. Thames Div. man of the same period as your photo. the wording on his shoulder reads "Metropolitan Police". the jacket is a "reefer" design as opposed to a tunic. In all probability the same pattern cap and reefer would have been supplied from the central clothing store to the Dockyard Divs. for those men who did duty there afloat. I've never seen a specific "dockyard" cap badge and almost certainly the anchor badge (identical to the Thames Div.) would have been worn.  The photo of the Metpol. Dockyard badges may be of interest. Shown is an example of the shoulder patch.

Dave.     

 

img032.jpg

Metpol. Badges 2..JPG

Edited by Dave Wilkinson

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ID: 7   Posted

Many thanks for the images Dave. I would certainly make sense that those serving afloat in the dockyards would wear a uniform similar to those officers serving in the Thames Division - and the use of the same cap badge would also make sense.  The shoulder patch is particularly interesting. I see I will have to start to expand the Metropolitan Police section of my collection! My problem is that the Metropolitan Police are only one part of the long story of dockyard policing and I don't really know enough about them in their own right. Thanks again Dave - much appreciated.

Pete

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ID: 8   Posted

Quite by chance I was today examining the online collections of the National Maritime Museum on an unrelated matter, when I came across the badge shown below. This is almost identical to the cap badge worn on my constable's cap - apart from the fact that the anchor slopes the other way. I did wonder if the photographic image had been flipped but when I tried it although the badge looked similar his collar numbers were unreadable. So I guess the photograph is correct!

The NMM have no idea what the badge is or where it comes from. I show an image of the cap badge and the original photo below for comparison.

Dave, I have also put this message on the other website!

Pete

Cap and badge.jpg

large.jpg

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ID: 9   Posted

Pete,

That is interesting! The badge on your man's cap looks as if it is in bullion wire. I'd be happier if the NMM badge was in white metal as opposed to brass/gilt. I say that because if it was in white metal it would match the white metal buttons on the tunic. The Metpol. always wore white metal badges pre. 1935 ish apart from the blacked over helmet plates. The badge illustrated would be more likely to be worn by the RN (or similar) rather than police. What do you think?

Dave.

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I actually agree with your comments re the badge and I would have been happier for it to be in white metal. And it is not exactly the same shape as the badge shown in the photograph. I do not know who wore this badge and I am not aware of any Royal Navy badge of this design. What I do find interesting is the fact that two such similar badges were in existence at the same time. It may have been a badge known by the police officers in the dockyards and perhaps it inspired the police band when they came to design their own badge? I guess we will never know.

Pete

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