News, Views and Comments

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

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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.

A picture tells a thousand....

PC Ronald Thackery, 1956

PC Ronald Thackery, 1956

Once in a while a picture comes to our attention which brings to life what an award to an officer can mean.

We had always known about the Royal Humane Society award granted to Pc Ronald Thackery for saving a toddler, and it is shown on our RHS awards page, but this recently received picture shows what it meant to the family concerned.

The son of the little girl who was saved, Carl Purkins, came across our website by chance and has been good enough to supply this photograph taken after the awards ceremony in 1956.

For more details, see the StoryBank article: PC Ronald Thackery – the story behind the picture



An update to our blog post of 15th June 2014:


The History Group has responded with two letters, from the perspective of a railway policeman by John Owen and from that of a dock policeman by Viv Head.
The letters are available to view on the 14-18 NOW web site:

In addition to these letters several other members have contributed their own letters.

Letters from Graham Satchwell, Peter Edwards and David Hoare are available to view.