The Force Crest




The Force Crest is taken from the Armorial Bearings of the British Transport Commission and was registered with the Royal College of Arms on 3rd June 1956. The only part of the Arms used by the railways was the crest (in heraldry the crest is the decoration on the helmet) i.e. the lion holding a railway wheel. The British Transport Commission Police also used the crest on the helmet plates of its officers.

On 27th September 1962 the use of the arms were transferred to the British Railways Board who continued to use the lion and wheel motif until they adopted the “coming and going” logo in the mid sixties. In 1962 the British Transport Police dropped the word “commission” from its title and decided to use the centre part of the arms (the shield) for their symbol.

Technically described the arms are “Vert on a fesse argent, two bars wavy azure, doubly cottised, between in chief three railway wheels and in base a portcullis of the second, chained or.”

For the layman however the Royal College of Arms give the following explanation:
The field is green (called vert) and across the centre runs a broad band of silver called a fesse; this is to symbolise the broad highways – roads. On the silver fesse are two wavy blue bars called barrulets, to represent the steel railways. These do not have to be blazoned (i.e. described heraldically) as barrulets, because when a narrow bar runs parallel to a fesse it is called cottise, and when there is one on either side of the fesse, the fesse is described as cottised. When there are two pairs of narrow bars on either side, the fesse is said to be doubly “cottised”

In the upper part of the shield (called the chief – or “in chief) are three silver wheels, symbolising locomotives and rolling stock; in the base of the shield is a silver portcullis with gold chains which symbolise a gateway, entrance or port. Thus the four principal departments controlled by the British Transport Commission:

  1. British Railways
  2. Roads and Road Transport
  3. Canals and Waterways
  4. Ports and Harbours are represented.

You may have noticed that the current badge used by the force used different colours than those described. Although our badge is technically that of the British Railways Board rather than belonging exclusively to the British Transport Police, we would appear to be the only organisation ever to have used the shield. The symbols contained in the badge (often described as “the wheels, the water and the way”) continue to represent our work particularly since we now police international services (the channel tunnel link) and roads (tramways).


by Kevin Gordon
BTP History Society, 2000