News, Views and Comments

Welcome to the BTP History Group blog. The latest news and views will be posted here.

Click this button to go to the Welcome to the BTP History Group page.

Interested in Joining? Click this button to go to the Membership page.


Rail closure protests of the 1960’s and 70’s’

A new BTPHG Project has commenced! Following the purchase of a photograph on E-Bay showing BTP making an arrest of a protester at Summerseat railway station in Lancashire in 1967, Rob Davison wondered if there were more of these protests during the Beeching era. Now the proverbial ‘can of worms’ has been opened and information has been gathered from a variety of sources into long-forgotten but at the time, vociferous and sometimes violent public protests about rail closures.

Rob would be interested in hearing from anyone who can assist him. He can be contacted at

For more on other BTPHG Projects go to the Projects page.

Tracking the Hooligans: The History of Football Violence on the UK Rail Network

Tracking the Hooligans

Tracking the Hooligans

Another new BTP related book has recently been published.

It is written former BTP officers by Mike Layton and Alan Pacey.

From the cover:

“On an average Saturday, some thirty trains carried police escorts of between two and eight officers. Officers sometimes reached the destination with their uniforms soiled with spittle, and other filth, burnt with cigarette ends, or slashed.’

Charting the history of violent acts committed by football hooligans on the British rail network and London Underground, numerous retired police officers offer a frightening, and often humorous, insight into how they battled ‘the English disease’. Recalling incidents of random, mindless violence, as well as organised acts carried out by some of the country’s top hooligan firms, the authors document the times where nothing but a truncheon and the power of speech stood between order and chaos.

Exploring a period of fifty years, retired officers Michael Layton and Alan Pacey pay particular attention to the turbulent and dangerous times faced by the police in the 1970s and 1980s, when hooliganism in the United Kingdom was at its peak, as well as exploring more recent instances of disorder. Tracking the Hooligans is an essential account of the uglier side of the beautiful game, and a fitting tribute to those who gave their time, and sometimes their lives, keeping the public safe.”

It is available in paperback from all good booksellers and certain internet sites, including Amazon, from which a Kindle version is also available..

The Railroad Police

The Wild Bunch Posse

The Wild Bunch Posse

BTPHG member Graham Satchwell has highlighted a website dedicated to railway policing in the United States.

The Railroad Police was developed by Special Agents Matt West and Paul Miller of the Union Pacific Railroad Police to promote the history of Railroad Policing as well as explaining the duties of the modern-day Railroad Police Officer.

The site details the history of railroad policing, together with many historic photographs, memorabilia and items such as badges and patches.

The website has been added to our links page.

Peterborough and the Great War

The city was a transport hub during the war so the men came from all over the country.

The city was a transport hub during the war so the men came from all over the country.

Perhaps not directly Police related, but certainly of historical significance to the railway, a new online resource has been launched.

It is called Peterborough and the Great War.
Hundreds of messages written by servicemen as they made their way to fight in World War One have been published for the first time.  Members of the army, navy and Royal Flying Corps often stopped at a now derelict station in Cambridgeshire. Many wrote in visitor books kept in the tea room at Peterborough East railway station between 1916 and 1917. A team of volunteers transcribed the 570 entries which have been published online.
Richard Hunt, archives manager for Vivacity, which recruited the volunteers, said the messages provided a “unique insight” into the authors’ thoughts and feelings.  “Some are simple words of thanks, others talk of love and hope. We have found out some of the facts of some of their lives but are appealing for their descendants to come forward to add colour to the stories of these heroes,” he said.
Army Cadet Miller Jamieson from North Shields stopped at the station in December 1916. He was presumed killed in action in Flanders five months later.
He wrote: “When the war-drum throbs no longer, may I – going North – be here again.”
Stretcher-bearer Alfred Davis from Peterborough features in the project, after joining the army aged 18. Researchers found he accidentally killed his friend Corporal Arthur Rawson while the men were sleeping. It is believed a button on his coat caught the trigger of his rifle. He was discharged from the army after losing a leg while rescuing a wounded officer at Ypres in May 1915 and went on to work as a railway signalman before he died in 1965.
The tea room was run by the Peterborough Women’s United Total Abstinence Council, and was started to discourage servicemen from drinking alcohol.
Other stations also had volunteer-run tea stalls but it is unlikely they had visitors’ books, the Imperial War Museum said.
The three-year project was funded by a £99,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Herbert John LAUGHLIN

Our World War One Roll of Honour team have been continuing their good work on this important project.

This time they have found one of our forebears who had been misidentified. Lance Corporal Herbert John LAUGHLIN of the Grenadier Guards was a PC in the Great Western Railway Police prior to his war service. He died, aged 34, on 26th July 1917 and is buried at the Canada Farm Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, in Belgium.

He had been misnamed as J LOUGHLIN.

This mistake, on CWGC graves registration report, dated 1921, was shown on his gravestone and had been repeated on the Railway Staff RoH held by the National Railway Museum, and on the BTPHG RoH.

Project team member Ed Thompson, visited the GWR museum in Swindon and together with the museum curator carried out extensive research. They found an entry on the GWR Magazine dated 21/10/1914 which states H Laughlin, Policeman Traffic Department, Paddington, was wounded on active service. There is no further mention of him, however on the Railway Staff ROH held by the NRM there is an entry for H J LOUGHLIN indicating he had been Killed in Action and was a GWR Policeman. The curator carried out extensive searches but could find no reference to support this however the GWR ROH stored in the museum also shows the same entry. He is named as J LOUGHLIN on the CWGC. The curator was convinced that PC Laughlin recovered from his wounds and sent back into action and was subsequently killed on 26/07/1917 and advised Ed to concentrate his research on this fact.

Ed continued his research, including finding an entry in the Army “Soldiers Effects” Register. He also established that H J Laughlin was married to Alice Maria Reade on the 13/01/1912 in Stoke Newington, London, his occupation shown as a policeman.

Ed liaised with the Commonwealth Graves Commission and they have now accepted the misspelling error. The official records have now been amended, their website updated, and the gravestone will be amended in due course.

Tadworth Plaque Unveiling

HGP00586 Tadworth Plaque.ev


Another BTPHG Project has come to fruition with the unveiling of the commemorative plaque at Tadworth, the former site of the BTP Training Centre.

In a new StoryBank article, Project Manager Rob Davison describes the ceremony and the background to the Tadworth Plaque.

War Heroes Recognised

Gravesite of Corporal George JAY MM at Ypres Reservoir Cemetery.

Gravesite of Corporal George JAY MM at Ypres Reservoir Cemetery.


In the last few months BTP History Group members have been responsible for getting two fallen railway policeman fully recognised on their gravestones at Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries. In each case they had been awarded the Military Medal, but the this was not shown on the headstone.

Corporal George JAY of the Military Foot Police had been a PC with the Great Eastern Railway Police prior to his war service. He died from his wounds, aged 35, on 24th March 1918 and is buried at the Ypres Reservoir Cemetery, Belgium.

Thanks to efforts by Peter Zieminski, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission acknowledged the omission, and in May 2015 we were pleased to hear that the letters ‘MM’ had been added to the headstone. In September 2015, Ed Thompson and Steve Beamon visited the grave, and were able to photograph the stone. They were pleased to note that the cross left by BTPHG members on a previous visit was still in situ.

Sergeant Frank Victor BEWSEY of the 15th Brigade Royal Horse Artillery had been a PC with Great Northern Railway Police. He was Killed in Action on 15th November 1917, aged 26 years, and is buried at Adinkerke Military Cemetery, Belgium.

Our World War One Roll of Honour team (Richard Stacpoole-Ryding and Ed Thompson) have been continuing their efforts on this important project and identified that as with George JAY, the record that Frank BEWSEY had been awarded the Military Medal was missing from his gravestone. Earlier this month Ed was able to report that his contact with the CWGC had been successful and that BEWSEY’s records have been updated and put on their website. The headstone will be amended in due course.

The CWGC certificates can be seen here: JAY_G   BEWSEY_F_V


Poppy Appeal

Click here to donate.


The 2015 Poppy Appeal has been launched by the Royal British Legion. Their website can be accessed by clicking on the poppies.

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.