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The British Transport Police: An Illustrated History

BTP Illustrated History

After months of waiting we are pleased to announce that the new book is published this week on Thursday 15th October 2015.

Written by BTPHG member Richard Stacpoole-Ryding, and assisted by fellow members Ed Thompson and Rob Davison, it draws from the rich photographic history of the BTP and its forebears. We thank Richard and his team for all their hard work. This is the first book on the history of the force since Pauline Appleby’s ‘A Force on the Move: The Story of the British Transport Police, 1825-1995’, published twenty years ago.

From the book jacket:

“The British Transport Police has the most diverse history of any police force in the world. It can trace its origins back to 1826, and is made up from over 240 railway, dock and canal forces. Early railway companies maintained their own police forces, but following the First World War these smaller companies were amalgamated into four large companies. In 1948 following the nationalisation of the transport infrastructure the force took responsibility for policing the railways, ports and canals as the British Transport Commission Police, the first national police force in the United Kingdom. The BTC was dissolved in 1963 but the force remained as the British Transport Police.

From the beginning the force has been at the forefront of policing innovation such as being the first force to use dogs, employing women as uniformed officers, the introduction of a computerised crime reporting procedure and the first to use technology to arrest a murder suspect. Although diminished in size and areas of responsibility since privatisation of the UK transport infrastructure, the force has moved with the demands of modern policing. This book is an illustrated history of this unique force working to keep the travelling public safe.”

Richard Stacpoole-Ryding served in the British Transport Police (1972 – 1979), before pursuing a career in H. M. Prison Service. He has been published in military and medal journals at home and abroad and had the book ‘Maiwand: The Last Stand of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment at Afghanistan 1880’​ (History Press), published in 2008.

The book has a RRP of £14.99, but is currently available direct from the publishers Amberley Publishing at £13.49*. It is also available from Amazon, and can be ordered from as they say ‘all good book shops’.

*History Group members have already been advised on how to order this book at a special discount.

UK Police Memorial

BTP tree on 'The Beat' (July 2013)

BTP tree on ‘The Beat’
(July 2013)


Fund raising has begun for the new UK Police Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The new UK Police memorial is a project by The Police Arboretum Memorial Trust.

The Trust is undertaking an ambitious campaign to raise at least £4  million to design, build and maintain the memorial for the nation at the National Memorial Arboretum, at Alrewas, Staffordshire.

The British Transport Police have a tree situated on land known as ‘The Beat’ at the Arboretum (pictured above).

The new Memorial will be a place of ceremony, remembrance and quiet reflection located at the UK’s national place for year round remembrance. It will also help foster a national sense of pride and value in our Police Service for generations to come. The Beat will be refreshed and incorporated into the new Memorial.

Meanwhile, the Trust has launched a consultation survey to canvas the views of the wider public regarding the design and content of the memorial.


Tadworth opening film, 1948

Tadworth, 14/12/1948

Tadworth, 14/12/1948


One of the highlights of this month’s additions to the website is the short silent film taken at the official opening of Tadworth, then known as the British Railways Police Training School.

Discovered by BTPHG member David Hoare in the Imperial War Museum’s film archive, a copy was purchased for the BTPHG and is now available to view on this website. Quite how a film that was produced by the Southern Railway Film Unit in 1948, gets a British Transport Films reference, and then ends up in the Imperial War Museum is anybody’s guess – but we are pleased it did.

The video is available on the Official Opening of Tadworth page.


New BTP History Writer Appointed

Malcolm Clegg
In was recently announced in the BTPHG Year Book 2015, that the nominations committee have this year appointed Malcolm Clegg as a BTP History Writer for his dogged determination in researching and documenting the life story of J.R. Whitbread, author of The Railway Policeman (1961), a task that many had failed before him. He has also researched and written articles on four former Chief Constables – W.B. Richards, Colonel N. M. Jesper, Arthur West, the first ‘Chief Constable’ of the force and W.O. Gay the first ‘home grown’ Chief Constable – all of which have been published in History Lines.

BTP Journals Project

Journal Front Cover


The British Transport Police Journals 1948 – 1990

The BTP History Group have now completed the project of scanning all the 157 Journals and making them available in PDF format on disc.

Those that took part in the initial fund-raising exercise and donated £20 or more should have received their DVD set.

Read more about Project on the BTP Journal page.

The DVD’s are available to purchase from the DVD Sales page.

Annual General Meeting 2015

Our 2015 Annual General Meeting will be held on Monday 30th March at The Railway (formerly The Bright House), Public House, Hill Street, Birmingham, commencing at 12.30 hours.

This venue is approximately five minutes’ walk from Birmingham New Street Station (map).

A buffet will be provided free of charge. All members are welcome but you do need to let Bill Rogerson know at least two weeks beforehand so that food can be ordered appropriately.

Members should receive a copy of the Year Book in the post before the AGM and copies of all relevant papers will be available on the day.

This is the one opportunity in the year when group members have the chance to meet up and chat historically, topically or just plain sociably.

Hope to see you there.

NB: Unlike previous years, the AGM will not be the day before the NARBTPO AGM.


Wipers Lines

Wipers LinesIn 2014, the centenary year of the start of the Great War, half a dozen members of the History Group set out in early December to take part in the nightly ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

See the resulting Special Edition of History Lines.

Safe and Sound - Stories of Emergency Response in the Tees Valley

Head of SteamWe have received an appeal for contributions to a forthcoming museum exhibition featuring the history of the emergency services in the Tees Valley.

Of course, the Tees Valley includes Darlington, birthplace of the railways and of railway policing, but also many other sites of railway and dock policing from the early days right up to the present.

Head of Steam, the Darlington Railway Museum, is one of several museums within the Tees Valley which are co-ordinating to produce ‘Safe and Sound – Stories of Emergency Response in the Tees Valley’ which aims to tell the stories of the Emergency Services in the area.

If you are interested in helping with the research, or if you worked for the British Transport Police in the Tees Valley area and would like to share your story, or perhaps even if you are a collector who would like to showcase the objects you have collected over the years, then please get in touch.

More details on our Safe and Sound webpage.

Constable on the Freight Track

Heritage Railway Magazine

Heritage Railway Magazine


David Armstrong, a former BTP officer and cadet, has written an article entitled ‘Constable on the Freight Track’ about his time spent in the force which has been published in Heritage Railway Magazine. The article, which covers a four-page spread, concentrates on an attachment he had to a large freight depot in Gateshead in 1965. It’s well written and entertaining. Heritage Railway Magazine is available in newsagents now, and for those so inclined, digital copies can also be purchased.

This article is a follow-up to an earlier article David wrote entitled ‘Constable on the Track’ which was published in BackTrack magazine (March 2010 issue).

David has dedicated both articles to the memory of his father, who was an upholsterer on the London & North Eastern Railway.

BTP History Group Census Project 2013/14

A message from our BTP Census Project Managers:

“The Census Project is now drawing to a close. Since last October we have travelled thousands of miles (thanks to our staff travel cards), visited 82 BTP posts, taken hundreds of photographs and gathered valuable statistical information about the Force.

We want to express our gratitude to all the great BTP staff out there for their warm hospitality and great support and our thanks also go to the senior officers who helped us facilitate this fascinating project. We still have a few more locations to visit, but we have set a cut off date by the end of 2014. In addition there have been a few of our own History Group members who have taken photographs or arranged for them to be taken. This has certainly saved us a great deal of travelling.

The next phase of the Project is how to preserve all of the material we have collected so that future generations will be able to glean a pictorial history of the Force in 2013/14.

Ed Thompson & John Owen”


For more details go to the BTP Census Project page.