WPc Janet Barker

– the story behind the picture

by Bill Rogerson

Janet Barker 2


Glad to be of Assistance

On Wednesday 29th, July this year at 11.32 hours we were contacted by Alison Ward, via our website who informed us that she was in possession of a photo of her grandma called, Janet Barker. Who had told her that she was a policewoman on the railways in Sheffield during the war. Alison was not sure if she was a special or how long she was in service for. Alison was happy for us to add this to our portfolio of images if relevant. In return she wondered if we could shed any light on what she told her.

Our intrepid Webmaster Martin McKay was soon on the case and he found the following details on Alison’s Grandma.

Janet BARKER. DOB 08/07/1912: DES 02/08/1944. WPC No: 2 Redundant 04/05/1946 Sheffield.

She served for about 22 months and was made redundant after the war. Presumably she had a short-term contract dependent on full-time officers returning after war service.

Due to building work and relocation of the Archives we were unable to access her record card but once the work has been completed the details will be extracted.

Martin wrote back to Alison later the same day, and she sent us the following reply.

“Thank you for this information, I was astonished to get such a quick reply. I can tell you a little bit about my grandma who grew up in Normanton Springs on the border with Derbyshire and had 3 sisters and a brother. Her surname was Tame then. She married Samuel Swindon Barker and had my mother in 1932 and a son Albert 18 months later. She was a fearless character and I could imagine that would be just the qualities needed in this role. She never spoke about her role other one incident when I was little. We were in town and a man knocked me over. She quickly man- handled him up against a shop window and told him she could do a citizen’s arrest as she was an ex police constable. The man was very apologetic. The matter was never discussed again (the photo confirmed what she had said).

Funnily enough while I am writing this I seem to recall seeing a whistle in an old tin when I was younger which may have been hers.

Janet was a worker and I am not sure what she did immediately after being made redundant from the Police but she did work for the local home help based at Firth Park Clinic in Sheffield where she got a silver long service badge. She retired from that job and I recall her with bunches of flowers and gifts from all her grateful clients. When Sam her husband died in 1968 she was a bit lonely so rented a bedroom out to students and although she was a formidable person she took them under her wing. One student married and she let his wife and baby live with her. He became a well-respected author and teacher.

Janet didn’t stop when she retired; she became a cleaner to several local business people who held her in high regard. In 1991 Janet had a stroke, and I think she knew she would never be totally independent again, although she helped everyone else she was always reluctant when it came to accepting help herself and gave up her fight”.


Extract from the September 2015 edition of History Lines (No. 73)