News, Views and Comments

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

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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.

Membership criteria changes.....

London & Southampton (2)

At a recent Committee Meeting it was agreed to make a small change to the criteria for Membership.

Prior to this our criteria was:

“Membership is open to retired and serving officers and staff of the British Transport Police and any other interested individual or organisation by invitation.”

This was always a fairly open criteria and the BTPHG had never refused any external applicant, however, it was felt that the wording may have put off potential members who had not served with the BTP but who supported our aims and objectives.

The above clause has now been replaced by the following:

“Membership is open to retired and serving officers and staff of the British Transport Police and any other individual or organisation.”

If you would like to join the BTPHG please go to the Membership page.


If you were to able to speak to the unknown soldier now, a man who served and was killed during World War One…

With all we’ve learned since 1914, with all your own experience of life and death to hand, what would you say?

Unknown Soldier, Paddington

Unknown Soldier, Paddington

Created by Neil Bartlett and Kate Pullinger - WW1 Centenary Art Commissions,

LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER is a new kind of war memorial, one made only of words.

The inspiration for the project is the Charles Jagger war memorial on Platform One of Paddington Station, which features a statue of an ordinary soldier in battle dress, reading a letter.

LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER invites everyone to contribute to this collaborative war memorial by writing that letter.

From 28 June, throughout the 37 days leading up to the declaration of war on 4 August, the letters received will be published on the website to create a completely different kind of war memorial, one created by everyone.

LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER will create a snapshot of how twenty-first century Britain views the First World War, one hundred years on. It will be added to the British Library online archive at the end of the project, and kept in perpetuity for generations to come.

Writers from England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have already pledged to write letters to the soldier. These include writers as distinguished and different as Alan Hollinghurst, A L Kennedy, Andrew Motion, Bonnie Greer, Caryl Churchill, Daljit Nagra, Esther Freud, Glenn Patterson, Kamila Shamsie, Liz Lochhead, Malorie Blackman, Owen Sheers, Sheila Hancock and Stephen Fry. 

Everyone can contribute their LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER at or send a letter by Royal Mail to LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER, PO Box 73102, London EC1P 1TY.

Find out more

Twitter @letter1418

Facebook  /letter1418


The BTPHG is pleased to support this project.

Photo © Matthew Andrews

Museum of Crime - DVD Review

Museum of Crime

Museum of Crime


Sandy Kaye, the producer of Police 5 and Crime Stoppers, has re-released on DVD her films about the Crime Museum – previously known as the Black Museum – at New Scotland Yard.

The disc, with commentary read by the familiar voice of Shaw Taylor, contains two 25 minute programmes detailing artefacts housed at the museum (details below).

Originally produced in 1990, the programmes give fascinating accounts of the various historic – sometimes grisly – items to be found. Supported by video and photographs the commentary gives background and context to the items mentioned.

From a BTPHG viewpoint the second disc relates two cases that have a railway aspect. The first features the murder of Minnie Bonati whose corpse was found in a trunk at London’s Charing Cross Station left-luggage office. The second details the exploits and execution of Franz Muller the first railway murderer in Britain.

The museum is not open to the general public, so this video gives an insight into what is usually only available to police officers and invited guests.

The DVD can be purchased via the Museum of Crime website.






Disc contents:

Programme 1


Amateur musician – professional burglar. Eventually convicted murderer. Oldest exhibit in the museum.

Flavour of revolution. The Sydney Street siege takes its place in history.

Last woman to be hanged in Britain.

Skilled forger extraordinaire.

United States dollar forgeries.

Armed robbery that turns into a tragic murder.

An ordinary day that ended as a six-day siege.

Murder of the famous. An actor murdered for his kindness?


Programme 2


The first railway murder in Britain.

The first murder to be proved by fingerprints.

Caught by wireless telegraph.

The body in the trunk murder.

9 women strangled.

Russian spies extraordinary.

Victim of a poisoned pellet.

The man who killed for company.