News, Views and Comments

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

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Retired BTP officer receives the Legion d'honneur

William Tavendale at the Balhousie Castle ceremony.

Last Wednesday (13/06/2018), Retired Sergeant William Tavendale received the Legion d’honneur from the French Consul General.
See the HistoryBank article – Retired BTP officer receives the Legion d’honneur – for details.

In 2014, French President Francois Hollande announced during the 70th anniversary commemoration of the Normandy landings that France would give its highest honour to all surviving veterans who fought for the liberation of France during the Second World War.

Also see our post on Geoffrey Lawrence, who received the honour in February 2016.

Champions League, 2009

Hanover, 2009

A timely new entry in our Photo Gallery, with the Champions League Final featuring an English team today (Saturday 26/05/2018), Kay Clifforth shows us a clipping from December 2009, when she and Graham Naughton appeared in the BILD newspaper. Part of a BTP team sent to Hanover to escort Manchester United fans on their foreign excursion, for a Group B match against VfL Wolfsburg . You can see the clipping and more details in the BTP section of the gallery.

For the uninitiated (or uninterested), Liverpool play Real Madrid in the Champions League Final in Kiev (Ukraine) this evening.

Policing South Wales Docks - an Illustrated History

Policing South Wales Docks - cover

Policing South Wales Docks – cover

BTPHG Chairman, Viv Head, has returned to his roots to document the history of dock policing in South Wales.

This new BTP related book is published today (15/05/2018). It is available from the publisher – Amberley Books, as well as Amazon, and all good book shops and internet based retailers.

Viv writes this introduction for the History Group:

It is now more than thirty years since BTP ceased policing the docks. Officers have joined, served their time and retired without ever realising that the Force once policed an extensive network of docks and ferry ports across the country – 24 of them to be precise. The Humber Ports, Southampton and the South Wales Ports were major undertakings employing hundreds of officers. This newly published book provides an insight into policing the docks of South Wales although in many respects it could be any of the docks once policed by BTP and their forebears.

During the Nineteenth Century, South Wales exploded into industrial activity; previously peaceful valleys were turned on their head. Iron, coal, the arrival of the railways and great docks were built all along the coast; at Newport, Cardiff, Penarth, Barry, Port Talbot and Swansea. South Wales became the crucible of the Industrial Revolution.

Men from all across the land, and seaman from all over the world arrived eager to be part of it all. The docks became a land of opportunity; peaceful coastal communities were transformed; overcrowding, disease, prostitution, violence and dishonesty were everywhere. Into this mix of blood, sweat and coal dust came the dock police, charged with keeping a lid on rough communities, hell bent on self-intent. Crime and murderous violence were rife; it took a breed of hard men to step in and take control. And they stayed for more than a hundred years.

Over time the different forces amalgamated to become the British Transport Police. Then in the mid-1980s came privatisation and containerisation; it was perceived that the police had done their job and were no longer needed. So, in 1985, the last dock policeman locked the police station door, got into his car and drove away.

The book provides an illustrated insight into some of the darker and lighter moments of the dock coppers’ working lives. You won’t be surprised to know that they weren’t always angels themselves, but they do deserve to be remembered. As an ex dock copper in the 1970s the author well-remembers his time at Cardiff Docks, it was quite an experience!

 

From the publishers description:

Alongside the emergence of the railways in the nineteenth century came a huge expansion of docks and shipping. Worldwide demand for Welsh steam coal also saw a population explosion in the towns of Newport, Cardiff, Penarth, Barry and Swansea. Foreign seamen, ship owners, opportunists, thieves and vagabonds all came in search of a share in the new prosperity. It resulted in hard-living overcrowded communities where drunkenness, prostitution, thieving, violence and murder flourished. Embryo Borough police forces were stretched to the limit and beyond to deal with it.

Each of these coal ports formed their own police forces to deal with the mayhem. Like needed to be met with like; it was not a job for the fainthearted. The Bute Dock Police went out on patrol armed with cutlasses; and two of its officers drowned on duty on separate occasions, one in particularly suspicious circumstances. Strikes, two world wars, organised crime and drugs were all part of the story. In 1923, the railway amalgamations meant that for the next twenty-five years it was the GWR Police who kept a grip on the docks, followed, in 1948, by the British Transport Police – the first national police force in Britain.

Following privatisation, the police were withdrawn from the docks in 1985. And so it was that after 125 years of continuous police service, the last dock copper took off his helmet, locked the police station door and went on his way. This book tells the story of the dock police in South Wales.

A new addition to the BTPHG virtual Bookshelf has been made.

Website Updates!

Time for our annual reminder that in the ‘Pages’ column to the right of the screen we have a link called ‘Website Updates’.
Unsurprisingly this links to the Website Updates page. If you are a regular visitor to the site it’s a handy page to look at to see what new articles and items of interest have been added to the website recently.

Of course smaller items, such as photographs in the Photo Gallery, are being added all the time – so it’s still worth having a look around the site to see what you might find!

Roll(s) of Honour

BTP tree on ‘The Beat’ at the National Arboretum
(July 2013)

During a discussion this week at the BTP History Group A.G.M. there was mention made of the proposed UK Police Memorial, which will be on or in the vicinity of “The Beat” at the National Memorial  Arboretum in Staffordshire.

In particular, there was reference made to the National Police Officers Roll of Honour, which was created by former Metropolitan and Lancashire police officer Anthony Rae who, since 1981, has spent more than 36 years researching and compiling records of British police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. There is a specific BTP page on this website, which was in many instances the starting point for names included in our own British Transport Police – Roll of Honour (Line of Duty). We are pleased that Anthony has recently become a member of BTPHG, and that work is under way to synchronise both lists.

In addition, it should be noted that there is the roll maintained by the Police Roll of Honour Trust.

Both these websites are available from our Links page.

LPTBP Warrant Card

The advent of Social Media, and the embracing of Twitter by the BTP, has meant an exponential increase in the number of photographs available for us to see. Too many, if we are honest, for us to view and catalogue. But occasionally a real gem appears. And yesterday’s (Sunday 18th February 2018) tweet from BTP Edinburgh (@BTPEastScot) was one such gem.

William Francis NEWMAN warrant card

William Francis NEWMAN warrant card

The officer tweeted “Shown a piece of BTP History this afternoon at Edinburgh Waverley. A Member of Virgin Trains East Coast staff showing us his late granddad’s warrant card from 1940 when he served as a special constable in London.”

It is very nice to see such a good example of a London Passenger Transport Board warrant card. We have a couple of other examples, one from Alfred Peedle, who later became Assistant Chief Constable; but this a particularly good example.

Thanks to all concerned for bringing this to our attention.

William Francis NEWMAN warrant card

William Francis NEWMAN warrant card shown alongside a modern warrant card cover.

 

William Francis NEWMAN warrant card (front)

William Francis NEWMAN warrant card (front)

Source: Twitter @BTPScotEast
Thanks to Robert Cameron for highlighting this entry, and to Viv Head for capturing the image in better detail.

Annual General Meeting 2018

Our 2018 Annual General Meeting will be held on Monday 26th 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.

Please note, the AGM will not be the day before the NARBTPO AGM this year.

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.

Promotional Leaflet

 

A new promotional flyer for the History Group has been published.

It is available as a glossy printed tri-fold leaflet or as a PDF download.

For more information go to the Leaflet page.

New Year Honours 2018

Superintendent Matthew Wratten, who led the operation to drive down theft on the London Underground and improve the service to victims has been recognised on the New Year Honours List.

He has been awarded the Queen’s Police Medal (QPM) for Services to Policing.

Supt Wratten joined BTP as a Constable from Kent Police in 1999 and is currently based at Central London Police Station within the Justice Department.

From 2010 to 2013, BTP saw a rise in thefts on the London Underground. Working with Transport for London, Supt Wratten developed initiatives to drive down those numbers, culminating in a 17% reduction in theft in the first year alone. That equated to nearly 3,000 fewer victims.

He has also made effective changes within the Justice Department to enrich the service for victims of crime, and chairs the Force’s Independent Scrutiny Panel to ensure out of court disposals are used appropriately and proportionately.

Chief Constable Paul Crowther said: “Superintendent Wratten personifies all the qualities that make a good officer, in that he constantly drives through changes and improvements to make sure we’re doing the best we can for victims. His work in the Justice Department and commitment to ensuring the victims of crime are properly supported is particularly commendable and I’m proud to call him a member of the BTP team.”

 

Source: BTP

See: Honours, Decorations and Medals table.

Merry Christmas

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at the BTPHG 🎄