Policing the Docks

In the last blog, about the Maritime Blue photo exhibition in June 2010, I referred to the fact that BTP were policing 24 ports nationwide at the time of withdrawal in 1985. Someone asked – where were they? A very good question, to which we have not yet properly got the complete answer. But it started a chain of thought about how many docks or ports had previously been policed by BTP or constituent forces? Well that has been doing the rounds and so far we are up to fifty-six different ports and docks!!! Surprising isn’t it?

The list appears in the history pages on this site and if you can add any further information, we would be pleased to hear from you.

11 comments to Policing the Docks

  • Ralph Orchard

    Whilst working at FHQ Park Royal with Jock Herbertson he use to talk about being stationed at Bow Locks in the east end of London. He use to tell me about the dead bodies that were found floating in the canal and how one council would pay 5 shillings (5/-) for the handling of a body. The council on the otherside of the canal would pay 7/6 for the same function. So if they could they would find a branch or pole and push the body to the 7/6 side.

  • Viv Head

    Thanks Ralph. An excellent little anecdote. I imagine Jock was a Pc? Do you know his proper forename? and any idea of the sort of date he would have been stationed at Bow Locks?

  • Carol Mapley

    I’m think I’m correct in saying that the BTP Office at Dover Western Docks didn’t actually close until a year or two later. When the BTP office at Folkestone closed, personnel from Folkestone moved to Dover. When the Dover office closed the BTP presence moved to a former car workshop in a car park adjacent to Ashford Station. I’m not quite sure of the dates as I retired from Folkestone a year earlier and moved back to Scotland.

  • Jean Carlyle-Lyon

    My father was called Jock Herbertson – can you tell me what year you are talking about. My father was living in Wembley Park from approx 1944 to 1953?

  • Viv Head

    According to records William Hood Herbertson served from 1951 to 1981 in London at Bow Locks and Force HQ.

  • Actually Viv come to think of it neither Folkestone or Dover were directly BTC operated docks. In the case of Folkestone it was owned and operated by BR, and the Western Docks in Dover were owned by the Dover Harbour Board but were also operated directly by BR (Shipping & International Services Division i.e Sealink). Sealink also operated a large workshop complex in Dover on Snargate Street which refitted Sealink ships out of season. During the early 80’s it was quite common to see Sealink ships from all round the UK tied up in the Grenville Dock being refitted. When Stena took over Sealink the Snargate Street workshops closed and the refitting work contracted out to other yards.

    I retired in 1987 and Folkestone Harbour still had its own BTP office although I believe it closed a year later in 1988 and remaining officers moved to Dover.

    The larger Eastern Docks were policed by the Harbour Boards own force, their commanding officer during the 80’s was the our former district inspector Dennis Hardiman.

  • Viv Head

    Thanks Carol for a good bit of background information especially when the office at Folkestone closed

  • David Shrewsbury-Gee

    Whilst not a BTP officer I was a member of the Manchester Docks Police. The force had been running for a total of 99 years until it was disbanded in 1993. It was believed to be one of the oldest police forces at that time, having never changed its name or amalgamated with any other force. I was the third member of my family to join following my father who was a thirty year man and then my elder brother. The force was responsible for the policing of the whole of the 36 miles of the canal from Eastham locks on the Mersey to the Manchester basin. Many different cargoes were conveyed along the canal to many of the major industries and quays along the way. It was a sad day when the force was disbanded and replaced by a contract security company the year before the canal had there centenary celebrations. Now sadly few ex serving officers are still around to remember this fine force.

    • Thank you for getting in touch David. We are aware that BTP had no connection with the MSC but we do have connections with other canal forces and have elected to keep a weather eye on MSC as well. So your comments are very welcome. I will be in touch soon.

  • Monty Wright

    On 5th October 2012, I finally retired from the BTP, being the last Officer to be signed on at Newport Docks 03/03/80. Seeing service in Victoria, Waterloo, London Bridge, Gatwick and finally back at Newport Rail as OIC from 2000 to 2012. Also one of only 30 BTP Officers to be selected and sworn in with full powers to work in Germany for the World Cup in 2006. A very varied and full career!

    • Thanks for you comment Monty and congratulations on your retirement. Have you joined the History Group or are you about to? We would love to here more about your career. I’ll be in touch.