News, Views and Comments

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We Will Remember Them

As we approach Remembrance Day it is time again to reflect on those RDC officers who were killed during the conflicts, either overseas or on duty.

A reminder that we have the Roll of Honour pages detailing those officers.

The 2021 Poppy Appeal for the Royal British Legion has been launched. Last year, due the pandemic, there were no volunteer collectors out on the streets and stations, but this year they are returning. You can also donate online.

Some Reflections on Black History Month

by Philip Trendall

There are a number of themed ‘History Weeks’ throughout the year.  They allow for an organised focus on aspects of history that are often passed by in the mainstream historical research.

Every year I learn new things during Black History Month and I have been fascinated this year by the story of John Kent.  He was probably the first black police officer in the UK who, in later life, joined the railway police and also worked for a railway company.  There is an article on Kent on our website (see below).  I have also enjoyed the book by my predecessor as Chair of the BTP History Group, Mike Layton: Proud to Serve; Embracing Diversity in Policing (2020).  Mike’s book reminds us that the advances in diversity in the police service have not happened without considerable effort by many officers and especially by officers from BME backgrounds who have, by their example, made policing a richer and more inclusive service that better reflects the communities which are served by forces throughout the country, including of course the British Transport police.

The Force has an insightful area on its website covering Black History Month.  It includes a great interview with Mike and Carlton Wedderburn who between them have 60 years service.

Black History Month is not a new invention.  A version was started in the United States in 1926 and it has been a feature in the UK History calendar since 1987.  I am therefore surprised that it is still seen as something even vaguely controversial.  I saw a comment on a newspaper website recently that questioned the ‘need’  for Black History, after all, the rather angry poster asked, surely it is all British history?  This is the same logic that suggests that there is no need for a group to study the policing of railways, docks and canals; surely this is just ‘police history’?  And police history is just part of the history of the criminal justice system, which is just part of the social history of the country etc, etc.

Black history is a well established field for academic study.  The experience of policing has traditionally been different for minority groups.  This is true both of officers and for the general public.  Capturing what has happened in the past is what history is all about.  Our duty as historians is to research, record, analyse and report.  No historian is forced to research what does not interest them and as a Group that encourages research we are all at liberty to seek out the past as we feel fit.  But if we ignore the individual and group histories that are part of our inheritance we will always have an incomplete story.  I want to embrace the opportunity to learn about our history from perspectives that sit outside my own experience and I would respectfully encourage others to join me.

Philip Trendall
October 2021


Also see:

John Kent – The First Black Police Officer: Maryport & Carlisle

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic History Research

Henry Wreathall turns 100!

Henry Wreathall, October 2021 (Image: Katie Pugh)

Retired BTP Sergeant and BTPHG member Henry Wreathall had his 100th birthday today!

Congratulations from all at BTPHG.

To mark the occasion he was interviewed by the Hull Daily Mail.

Also see Henry Wreathall’s gallery.

Robert Kidd Commemoration, 29th September 2021

On the 126th anniversary of the murder of Detective Sergeant Robert Kidd in the LNWR Goods Yard at Wigan, a plaque was unveiled at Wigan North Western Station by T/Chief Superintendent Glen Alderson, the BTP Divisional Commander.  The event was attended by members of the BTPHG, serving officers, railway staff, members of DS Kidd’s family and the Force Chaplain.  This was followed by a short commemoration, led by the Chaplain, Phil Bawn, at the cemetery in Salford where the officer is buried.  A wreath was laid on behalf of the BTPHG.

These events would have taken place last year but had to be cancelled because of the pandemic.

The arrangements for the installation of the plaque, the ceremony at Wigan North Western and for the commemoration were undertaken by Viv Head and Ed Thompson to whom we are most grateful.  All who attended commented on how well organised the events were.  We are also grateful for the support given to the project by the Force , the chaplaincy, Salford Council and by Avanti West Coast.

The BTPHG is determined that the sacrifice of RDC officers will not be forgotten.

Philip Trendall

The Murder of Detective Sergeant Robert Kidd, 1895

Robert Kidd, Date Unknown: Credit: Family Photograph

A special entry in the Research section of HistoryBank this month.

As part of the History Group’s commemoration of the 126th anniversary of the death of Detective Sergeant Robert Kidd, Phil Trendall has updated his 1995 article with additional research.

The article can be found here: The Murder of Detective Sergeant Robert Kidd



Remembering September 11th

A commemorative patch has been sent to those NYPD Transit Bureau officers who served on 9/11 to mark the twentieth anniversary.

Time to remember all officers who lost their lives during the course of their duties.


Source: Twitter / @NYPDTransit

BTP Journals DVD

Just a short entry to report that the BTP Journals DVD has now sold out.

In 2014, after having completed the project to scan all railway police Journals from 1948 to 1990, we offered a double DVD set for sale.

Recent publicity due to the release of the BTP Magazines DVD has resulted in a spike in sales in the older DVD, and our stock has now been exhausted.

There are, at present, no plans to produce any more.

Thank you to all that have purchased a copy.

Ministry of Defence Police - 50th Anniversary

Mod Pol Anniversary

This year the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) celebrates its 50th anniversary, after it was formed following the amalgamation of the Army Department, Air Force Department and Admiralty Constabularies on 1 October 1971.

A brief history of the Ministry of Defence Police is a new article on their blog outlining the story.

Phil Trendall, BTPHG Chair comments: “The MDP have quite a lot in common with BTP in that they have been formed by many mergers (although I suppose this is also true of most county forces). Operationally the force has a fair amount of interface with BTP, especially because they form part of the strategic armed policing reserve.”

Dedication of New Memorial to Police Officers

A new memorial to honour fallen police officers will be unveiled next Wednesday, 28th July from 12 noon at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The new UK Police Memorial honours the courage and sacrifice of all those from across the police service who have dedicated their lives to protecting us and will be commemorated at a special ceremony at the Arboretum next week.

The ceremony will be attended by hundreds of guests, who will adhere to coronavirus restrictions, including dignitaries, senior politicians, representatives from all police force across the country, policing charities and the families and friends of officers killed on duty.

The public will be able to view the ceremony live online through the memorial website Police Memorial UK from midday on Wednesday, 28th July 2021.

Update: A video of the event is now available here: Dedication Ceremony

Sir Hugh Orde, Chair of Trustees, said: “Next Wednesday will be a historic day for our police service. After seven years of fundraising and 12 months of construction, we can finally dedicate this beautiful and iconic memorial that pays tribute to the courage and sacrifice of all those police officers and staff who have paid the ultimate price.

“The 12-metre-tall brass memorial,  with its leaf shaped apertures representing courage, sacrifice and lives lost, is set within a beautifully landscaped area, and has been designed for ceremony, tribute and personal acts of reflection. As a nation, we owe all those who have laid down their lives to keep us safe and protect us from harm a huge debt of gratitude. This memorial will ensure that the memory of those officers and staff who have died lives on in perpetuity.”

Since 1749 and the establishment of the Bow Street Runners as the country’s first recognised police force, almost 5,000 police officers and staff have died whilst policing our communities, over 1,500 through acts of violence.

The National Memorial Arboretum is the nation’s place of year-round remembrance for all our services. It is home to almost 400 thought provoking memorials, including the National Armed Forces Memorial, and attracts over 300,000 visitors per year.

Sir Hugh added: “This magnificent tribute to fallen police officers and staff has only been made possible thanks to the considerable generosity of our supporters, donors and benefactors. This is a place that will not only honour the courage and sacrifice of the men and women from our police service, but it will become a fitting tribute to honour all those who continue to serve.”

BTPHG Membership Secretary Glyn Thomas comments:

“This will be of interest to our members.  As you will be aware, our small project group started research work in 2017 to update the Line of Duty Roll of Honour and eventually sharing our completed list with the Force.  We nearly doubled the number of names on the Roll as a result of our research.

It was agreed by the History Group’s Committee to make a donation towards the construction of the Memorial via the Police Memorial Trust.  I am also aware that the Force made a substantial contribution.  The updated list is on our website.”

Police Dog Ash



PD Ash

The dashing PD Ash is an integral member of the BTP’s County Lines Taskforce 🐶.

He works with the team to sniff out drugs and stop organised criminals using the railway to move them between locations.

Police Dog Ash is the latest addition to our Police Dogs gallery. Just one of our photo galleries available on this site.

Source: Twitter / @BTP (July 2021)