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I am closing down my Bournemouth flat and intend to rent it. However, whilst it was being

cleared a number of old items came to light. These included many of the items that will be

in Wallis and Wallis sales over the next few months. See Pinned item at top.

Some of the pieces found were my original equipment when I served in the Met. Police from

1967 to 1974 , when my Father died and I had to take over our Company. Rarely, I have my

full set of official notebooks - rare, because they have to be handed-in. However, if you had

Court dates coming-up they were left with you. I also had brought over my original truncheon.

This will feature in further posts - however, today I thought I would cover my original whistle.

Strange, that I would carry it for so many years - yet, I don't remember ever reading the front

inscription. I was surprised that it turns out to be one of the very first issued.

The original means to raise an Alarm for the Met. Police - was a rattle, which was carried in a

pocket in the tail coat. These lasted for over 50 years, but by 1884 it was felt they were out-

dated and also, they could not be heard easily with increased traffic noise.

Tests were carried out between whistles and Rattles. The Rattle could be heard at approx. 400

yards - where-as the Whistle carried for approx. 800 - 900 yards. The first whistles were domed

and used a pea inside. They looked rather like a Referee's whistle. The air whistle followed

with-in a few years. The were always numbered for the officer they were issued to - however,

common sense said that they would keep re-issuing them - even if the number was wrong.

Mine has the key for the old Police Boxes - and the wording -

The Metropolitan




Then address Details

for Hudson's. Birmingham


This last being the original constable it was issued to. Marched out in 1829 - progress to 1884,

possible Warrant Number at that date - 031576.

Whistles of this age are rare - COULD ANYONE HELP WITH TRACING THE NUMBER ?

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This picture is taken from my book - "The Policeman's Lot". At the top is a night watchman's rattle.

On left, the first Metropolitan Police Rattle. Whilst, on the right, one for Manchester.

The first domed whistles are below the Watch Rattle.

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I have always understood, as regards the Met Police, that the number stamped on the whistle is purely the whistles serial number and nothing to do with the constable to whom it might be issued, although other forces did do that:


The 244 address puts the date of manufacture firmly after 1909, the serial number itself from other examples would seem to put the age somewhere after 1914 into the 1920's (possibly the earlier part):


Should you ever wish to part with it, it is exactly the right sort of period whistle I am ultimately looking to go with my WW1/1920's Met Police kit for living history I am still working on...

Edited by ayedeeyew
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My own feelings have been that they were numbered as in-service items - and not for the Constable.

However, the Met. have always been a law ' unto themselves' !

From the research point of view , having virtually all of my old equipment from the the late 1960's - incl.

my notebooks , makes this quite rare - and, I suppose with the background of my book it will be sought

after. I will finish posting the other items in the next few weeks. Mervyn

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This is a very interesting post!

I think the Met had a stock of whistles (new and old), the old were ones that Officers had handed in.

These were later handed in and re-used. I think yours has a new chain on it (which is quite common for an old whistle!)

Looking forward to seeing the other items

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Fife also carried over their whistles from one generation to the next.

Back in the early 1980s, when I was based at HQ-Admin, we often issued old Victorian whistles to the latest recruits.

The less lucky ones got 'spanking new' 1940s whistles marked 'ARP'. ;)

Happy days.

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Robin - doesn't ARP stand for ' A Right Plonker ' ? The Police are an irreverant bunch............

The price of whistles has rocketed. 20-35 pounds for a Force marked one - and mine , with the original box key -

much higher. Even the ARP sell for about 10 - 15 pounds. Mervyn

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  • 4 years later...

Disclaimer: I'm not a whistle collector, although I do have a few that are part of my collection of Metropolitan Police insignia and memorabilia. Nor am I an expert. All of my knowledge on the subject of police whistles came to me, over the past 35 years, from the real experts like Martyn Gilchrist. Lief Bailey, and others. Luckily, for all of us, their knowledge is still readily available to us through their research and writings, and all of it just a click away via the internet.

Having said that, I'd like to resuscitate this wonderful thread with a few words about a couple of old whistles in my collection. The first one is an oldie: a General Service Whistle by Hudson's of Birmingham showing his address at 84 Buckingham Street. After being awarded the contract to supply the Metropolitan Police with his new whistle, he was able to move his manufactory to a more suitable location on Carr Street that same year, 1884. The serial number of 6751 places it among the first batch of whistles, referred to by collectors as "MP1", commissioned by the Metropolitan Police in 1884.

It's attached to a chain, that I'm not able to date, but it's paired with a call box key. The call boxes were distributed around the Metropolis in 1929. I'm not sure when they were decommissioned, but I've read somewhere that the same key provides access to certain traffic-control devices throughout the city.

The switch from ratchet rattles to whistles as calls for assistance or raising the 'Hue and Cry' did not come as an epiphany to the Metropolitan Police. The wooden rattle was hopelessly inadequate when competing with the deafening noise of the city, and although whistles had been in use by the military and police, in one form or another since the 1850's, the whistle of the day, the so-called Beaufort Whistle had a rather anemic sound, and while it might be suitable for some purposes, it was not loud enough for emergency attention getting. I have one of the old whistles that dates from the 1850's or 1860's from none other than the firm of Parker, Field, & Son of 233 Holborn, London. As they were the principal armorers for The Metropolitan Police at the time, I suspect that their whistles were used in some capacity by that force.




Edited by Mike McLellan
Brain fart
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Thank you Simon. I neglected to cite another extremely useful source of information for the whistle collectors out there. "The Whistle Museum" by Avner Strauss contains a wealth of information and loads of quality illustrations. Between the 3 sources of information that I used, and is, for the most part on-line, anybody that has an older police whistle can zero in on the date of manufacture or other info. Fascinating stuff. I had no idea that the real experts knew that much!!

Anyway: Another old timer. This, according to Gilchrist's work is known as the MP3, (i.e.. the third issue Met whistle) from 1885. The difference from the MP1 that is shown above, is in the address, the inclusion of the word 'Patent', and the stamp on the ring, which defines it as a 'certified' police whistle! 

There are a few more whistles around here; mostly on key rings scattered around the house. If I find one that's note-worthy, I'll post a picture or two. In the meantime, I'd like to see some other examples from the collectors of GMIC. Maybe someone can shed some light on the serial numbers. I can't seem to find any cross-reference to establish any kind of date of manufacture or shipping, etc. 





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