BTP History Writer


There have been a number of people who have made a significant and valuable contribution towards documenting BTP history, often over a period of years. The History Group believes it appropriate to recognise these contributions by conferring on them the informal title of “BTP History Writer”. This is intended as a simple recognition of good work done.


Those currently recognised are:

William Owen Gay QPM MAThe first and so far only*, Chief Constable to be appointed from within the force. He wrote copiously for the BTP Journal and Police Review, notably his Constable on the Track series and the documenting of railway murders. Also published the booklet Communications and Crime.
John Robert WhitbreadFor his research and writing published as The Railway Policeman in 1961. Still regarded by many as a definitive work. Formed a good relationship with the force and presented the Whitbread Shield to be awarded for meritorious police work. It has been awarded on and off ever since.
Kevin GordonA member of BTPHG, he has been carrying out research and documenting BTP history for more than 20 years. The Group has much to thank him for and has been building on a lot of good work he had already done. Individual pieces include papers on A History of Policing the Railways (2002), The Police Dog Pioneers (2003), A Time Line for Policing the Railways, and the Roll of Honour.
Phil TrendallA member of BTPHG, he compiled the original Roll of Honour and researched and wrote an excellent paper on The Murder of Detective Sergeant Robert Kidd. He also corroborated with Kevin Gordon to produce much of the work done around the 1990s. (And as an aside, has been hugely influential in safeguarding the force historical archives both at Tadworth and at their current location).
Colin Thomas
LL.B, M.Phil.
A member of BTPHG, has concentrated more on the legal aspect of the force and produced a considerable treatise (bound) on the work of BTP (Masters Thesis on the "Development of the BTP"), which he presented to the Force having retired as Force Training Officer. Worked with Kevin Gordon on some of his research. Currently writes all the obituaries published in Retired Lines, under the name of Sandman.
Robert ButcherA member of BTPHG, he wrote copiously for The Journal before it ceased publication and has carried out much research, including on the deaths of railway police during the Great War and the duties of the early railway policeman. He continues to write for the BTPHG newsletter History Lines and remains a great asset to the Group.
Viv HeadPassionate about history and in particular about transport policing in all its forms, Viv was instrumental in creating the BTP History Group and its rapid growth into a thriving community of retired and serving officers and police staff. He has penned articles and books on police history and in particular in relation to the policing of Cardiff Docks.
Martin McKayAs with any organisation today, it is the website that is its public face and often the means by which it may be judged. In a history group especially, it is important to have information that is easy to read, easy to find and meaningful. That this website continues to attract many visitors and compliments, is largely due to the dedication of Martin McKay who not only created the site but has been responsible for generating and arranging much of its content.
Malcolm Clegg For his determination in researching and documenting the lives of four former Chief Constables, about which little was known. And in particular for his tracing of the personal history of J.R. Whitbread, the author of the The Railway Policeman, whose story had evaded many researchers before him.
John Owen &
Ed Thompson
For their tenacity and dedication in thoroughly documenting the Force during their long-running Census Project, travelling the length and breadth of the land in order to do so.
William 'Bill' Rogerson For the continued production of the highly regarded History Lines monthly newsletter and the co-authorship of the book Police Dog Heroes.
Michael LaytonFor his work in publishing the books: Hunting The Hooligans, Tracking The Hooligans and Police Dog Heroes.
Richard Stacpoole-Ryding For his work in publishing the book The British Transport Police: An Illustrated History.
Pauline Appleby For her work publishing A Force on the Move: The Story of the British Transport Police 1825-1995.
John HigginsA member of BTPHG, John spent many years serving at Hull Docks until promotion came his way which took him on to Heysham and York. He is man very much aware of history and has put together a veritable catalogue of information, photographs and stories relating to the places he served. Two lever arch files full and more. John was appointed a history writer in 2018.
Ian OliverA member of the History Group and long-term Committee Member, Ian spent most of his service at Southampton Docks and has a wealth of information on policing the port. In addition, whilst on the committee, Ian managed a project recording, verification and storage of many hundreds of Police Service Records. As a result we have a significant archive to add to our collections. Ian was appointed as a History Writer at the Group's 2019 AGM.
Robert DavisonRob has researched and written for the History Lines newsletter and the BTPHG Year Book over a number of years. He is also a regular contributor to the NARBTPO Retired Lines newsletter with his BTP related history column The Way We Were. Most recently he has been part of research team for the Federation100 project which he has approached with his usual high degree of dedication. He has also now taken over as Editor of the History Group’s Year Book.


This is an on-going scheme and any further nominations will be considered. The scheme is managed by the Group’s Trustees and President. Nominations should reflect substantial contributions towards documenting BTP history and can be made by any BTPHG member or retired BTP officer.

If you think there is someone who should be nominated please propose them by using the Contact form or by post to Paul Robb (see Members Directory).


* In 2014, Paul Crowther was appointed Chief Constable, making him the second to be appointed from within the force.