Liverpool Parks Police History ‘Timeline’
Our journey through the history of the Liverpool Parks Police is laid out in a “Timeline” format – a chronological order. The timeline covers the history of the foundations of policing in Liverpool and its relevance to the policing of the Liverpool parks; we explore the formation of the Liverpool Parks Police, together with a history of that force’s activity while it was in existence.
For those of you with a connection to the Liverpool Parks Police, you may spot some familiar names, or even faces. Plus there are some interesting historical facts along the way.
To enlarge any photo, just click on it.
|Click to navigate down the timeline:||1811||1843||1871||1919||1949||1969||1970||1972|
The first discovered reference to the Liverpool “Park Constables”
Liverpool Port and Town Act – Dock Police Constables appointed to the town and its Docks
Liverpool Cholera Riots. The first discovered reference to the Liverpool Parks Police was when The Liverpool Chronicle, dated 29th May 1832, reported: “A mob of over 1000 women and young boys of the lower order descended on a hurriedly organised Cholera Hospital in Toxteth Park ... the Park Constables were panic struck and incapable of acting ...”
Michael James Whitty took up his appointment as Superintendent of the Liverpool Town Police Night Watch. He was so successful in the role that he was charged with the task of recruiting and organising the new Liverpool Town Borough Police Force similar to Sir Robert Peel’s police force in London.
Michael James Whitty of The Liverpool Town Police Night Watch
He was born in 1798 in Nicharee in the old Parish of Duncormick in Rathangan, County Wexford. At the age of 23 he left Wexford and went to live in London and commenced work as a journalist following a literary career. His career was to bring him fame and fortune in an affluent London society, to which he had not been accustomed in his rural upbringing in Wexford. His father was a Farmer and owned a few ships plying from the port of Wexford. He is also described as being a local Maltster, somewhat like Nicholas Dixon from the nearby village of Castlebridge, who supplied the malt for the Guinness brewery.
Michael James Whitty’s family were of the Roman Catholic faith, being greatly admired and respected. The family had resided for generations in the same thatched home built circa 1600. In 1829 Whitty came to Liverpool and met up with Robert Rockliff (1797 -1894) who was so greatly impressed with Whitty that he appointed him as the Editor of The Liverpool Journal, which was founded, published and printed by Rockliff Brothers of 44 Castle Street in Liverpool.
Rockliff Brothers over the years published many books, journals and some of the first Police Constable note books. In the 1960's the business was located at the Industrial Estate in Long Lane, Aintree, Liverpool.
Michael James Whitty died the 10th June 1873 aged 75 years, at the time of his death he resided in Liverpool’s Princes Park. His funeral was one of the biggest ever seen in Liverpool, people turned out in their thousands and lined the route from the Roman Catholic Pro cathedral in Copperas Hill to his grave site at Anfield Cemetery.
Municipal Corporation Act 1835 – this allowed the formation of Liverpool Town Borough Police, similar to the London Metropolitan Police. The towns influence is expanded under a term called the West Derby Union, taking in places such as Fazakerley, Walton on the Hill, Kirkdale and Everton.
On the 9th February Michael James Whitty was appointed Liverpool’s First Head Constable and on February 29th 1836 Liverpool Town Borough Police Force commenced operational duty.
The Liberal council who controlled the Borough of Liverpool agreed that the town’s Corporation Constabulary, Dock Police and the Town Watch should be disbanded and incorporated into the new police force – the town’s Park and Market Constables appear to have remained independent ‘Constablewicks’ under the control of the town council.
Head Constable Whitty had already put in place some 360 handpicked men, some of whom may well have come from the ranks of the Dock Police. The amalgamation of Liverpool's Borough and Dock Police forces came about on the recommendation of Sir Richard Mayne, the Chief of the London Metropolitan Police. Between 1826 and the time of amalgamation the following named Dock Police Officers were known to have been serving:
- Captain Peter John Audley who died on the 28th December 1826 - his death being mentioned in the Liverpool Mercury Newspaper dated Friday 6th January 1827. He was described as "A man who exercised the duties appertaining to his office in the most respectful manner."
- Superintendent Enoch Broadley of 5 Duke Street
- Dock Constable William Brown of 2 Eldon Place
- Dock Constable Joseph Burney who resided in Toxteth
- Dock Constable Peter Carrington who resided in Cavendish Street
Rioting in the town and outer areas stopped and the logsticks were removed from the Constables. At the same time of re-establishing good order, the Market Constables and Park Constables would have settled down getting on with their policing task and working alongside the new police force.
Liverpool Market Constables
The Office of Market Constable can be traced back many years and was part of the town’s early development – maybe the first police officers of any form to police Liverpool. The officers were deployed to ensure that law and good order was kept at the town’s Markets and Fairs.Market Constables employed around the time of the formation of the new Liverpool Police were:
- Thomas Herbert was born in West Derby, Liverpool in 1785. In November 1844 at the time of
his second marriage, he was employed as a Liverpool Town Market Constable. In 1851 he was
still a Market Constable and living with his family at Gore Street in the Toxteth Park area
of Liverpool. In 1861 he is recorded as a "Superintendent Constable"; his death took place
in West Derby in 1867 aged 82 years.
Note:- 'Superintendent Constable' was a rank recognised under the provisions of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847.
- James Jones of Bolton Street was a Market Constable in January 1845
- In 1845 Ralph Bolton a resident of 16 Ben Johnson Street
- In 1832 Hugh McEvoy who resided in Portland Street a short walk via Clement Street to the towns Chisenhale Street Bridewell
- Another Constable known in 1837 was Charles Worrall, who later became the Head Market Constable in about 1851
- Much later in 1885 William Blackwell of 27 Cowel Street was recorded as a Markets’ Constable
- Liverpool Town Market Constable John Blair aged 37 years. On the 6th January 1877 he appeared before The Liverpool Town Quarter Sessions and the Grand Jury. He was found guilty of the theft of apples and oranges and jailed for 12 months.
Liverpool Park Constables: ‘The Toff’s Police’
From before the Cholera Riots of 1832 the Park Constables had played a role in maintaining the town’s law and order. Well into the late 1950s older Liverpudlians often referred to them as ‘The Toff’s Police’. This was a left over reference to their role policing the grand Liverpool Parks, which were the homes of some of the county’s wealthiest and influential people during the Victorian and Edwardian days.
The large Liverpool Parks had been designed to incorporate large and grand Victorian villas. It was said that during the late 1800s there was more millionaires living in and around the Liverpool Parks than there was in Belgravia in London. Such people made their money from shipping. Some had their business roots in the slaving days, whilst others were industrialists and entrepreneurs.
Although the parks were open to the public during daylight hours the gates were locked one hour after sunset. However many of the residents of those grand houses paid an annual fee to the Liverpool Corporation Parks Department, for the right for them and their servants to access and use the park, when it was closed to other members of the public. A special key was issued by the Liverpool Corporation Parks Department on payment of an annual fee. However such an agreement was only possible if the property backed onto the park and formed part of the boundary – such a situation was still in place up to 1972 at Liverpool’s Stanley Park which was backed onto by Victorian villas in Anfield Road. A number of smaller parks in the city had a similar arrangement among its wealthy residents.
After the disbandment of the Liverpool Parks Police the council decided not to lock the gates at various parks. A procedure that had been enacted each day of the week since Victorian times – then many of Liverpool’s parks were locked one hour after sunset by the police officers stationed at the park including the city’s larger parks of Stanley and Walton Hall Park.
Within three years of the disbandment of Liverpool Parks Constabulary, the closing of the Police Office and the gate policy being implemented, a murder took place of a local boy in Stanley Park. It was the first known murder to be recorded in the parks history from it’s opening in 1870.
The murder of a local boy John Anthony Noon of City Road Walton took place in the winter of 1975. Public outrage within the Community and the City followed and the question asked by the people of Liverpool was:
‘Murder in Stanley Park:
Where Have All Liverpool Parks Policemen Gone?’
The infamous Liverpool murder in 1993 of toddler James Bulger took place on a railroad embankment boarding onto a cemetery next to Stanley Park.
Michael James Whitty’s Liverpool Town Borough Police were also charged with the fire fighting task; the term ‘Fire Bobbies’ continues to this day, being used by Liverpool folk when referring to their Fire Fighting and Rescue Service.
In the same year, Michael James Whitty, Head Constable, retired due to poor health. A journalist by profession he went on to publish a newspaper – The Liverpool Daily Post.
Henry Miller appointed as Head Constable on 27th February and resigned on the 26th August that same year. He was viewed by the rank and file of the Liverpool Town Borough Police as an authoritarian in his attitude. He was accused of openly and flagrantly flouting the authority of the Liverpool Watch Committee, who claimed the efficiency of the new force had declined under his command.
Matthew Dowling appointed Head Constable; a respected and able man, who had – some time before his appointment – moved from the new Metropolitan Police to Liverpool.
Dowling as Head Constable had to take charge and lead his men against serious public order problems. Former Head Constable Whitty came out of retirement to assist him. He was appointed to act as a Lieutenant for the town’s reserve police, working alongside the Head Constable and the military to bring order to Liverpool town.
In July, Prince Albert visited Liverpool to open the new Docks to be named after him. Head Constable Dowling oversaw the towns police operation from Dock Police Headquarters located in James Street.
On 2nd December Liverpool’s Newsham Park was opened. Designed by Edward Kemp alongside Birkenhead Park, it became the working model for the design of New York’s Manhattan Central Park. It contains many splendid buildings, including the Seaman’s Orphanage and Newsham House, which was used by H.M Judges as their residence and the place that Queen Victoria stayed at during her visit to the city.
At this time what could be described as ‘Gentleman Park Keepers’ (often bearded, wearing a rather picturesque uniform, comprising of a frock coat, velveteen trousers and gaiters) were seen on patrol. The hat was described as a tall hat with a metal band bearing the words ‘Park Keeper’ completed the uniform, which was said to closely resemble that of the 18th Century Country Estate Game Keeper.
In January some 50 officers from new Liverpool Borough Police Force, armed with cutlasses were deployed to patrol the outskirts of the town in order to prevent highway robberies of persons entering and leaving the town.
Captain John Greig appointed as Head Constable of the Liverpool Police on the 29th March. Like Head Constable Michael James Whitty, he was seen as a social reformer. He served the Town and its people until he retired in 1881.
Liverpool Borough Town Council raised the question of who should Police the Liverpool Towns Parks.
The view of Head Constable Captain John Greig and the Towns Watch Committee was that:
It was then decided to employ ‘Park Keepers’ to provide a measure of protection for the park users.
Prior to this date criminal behaviour in Liverpool Parks went generally unchecked. The Liverpool Town Borough Police, formed in 1836, would only deal with incidents brought to the towns Police’s attention by members of the public using the parks. No beat patrols were undertaken by the town police in the parks.
Liverpool Park Keepers with the Peelers Style of UniformIn this year, 1856, under the provisions of the Liverpool Corporation Improvements Acts, the council were allowed to appoint four ‘Liverpool Park Keepers’ who were named as:
- Thomas Mahon
- Henry Lunt
- Thomas Quick
- Charles Lovelady
- Others appointed shortly afterwards included officers Jones and Sworebrick.
These new type of Park Keepers employed, initially wore civilian clothing with velveteen trousers and gaiters. Within a short time they were provided with black stove hats which had a blue band with the words “Park Keeper” in red letters. Shortly afterwards the uniform was again changed to a ‘Peelers’ style of uniform.
The Peelers style of uniform consisted of a dark blue swallow tailed coat, brass buttons with the officers number in brass was worn on the collar. White pantaloons were issued and worn for Summer time duty and dark blue for the winter months. The uniform trousers were secured by a black leather belt with a brass buckle with Liverpool town’s coat of arms. The top hat continued to be worn and a blue and white duty armlet was also worn on the left forearm.
Like the developing police services the powers of arrest were based on the “Common Law” such as the offences of murder, theft and damage to property. Alongside the common law offences were the then new statutes such as the Town Police Act 1847 and the Vagrancy Act 1842 that gave Constables powers to summon and arrest offenders for many offences.
A person arrested in the “Name of the Queen” by a Liverpool Town Park Keeper would have been frogmarched by the officer to one of the various Police Bridewells located about the town – a procedure that did not change in any way over the years. In fact the procedure was still in use, and often undertaken by Park Constables, right up to the day in 1972 when the Liverpool Parks Police was disbanded.
Head Constable John Grieg stressed the urgent need to have more places of recreation and parks, for the ever expanding pollution of the town. He felt Liverpool had fewer public parks compared to other large British towns, within the reach of many of those living in the overcrowded quarters of the town.
Charles Dickens, the English writer, is appointed as a Special Constable in the Liverpool Borough Police. His records appear to have been destroyed at about the time of the formation of the Merseyside Police Force in 1974.
Stanley Park opened to the public on Saturday 14th May and was reported in the Illustrated London News. Designed by Richard Kemp it remains one of Liverpool grandest parks.
Liverpool Improvements and Waterworks Act 1871 – the provision of Section 52 gave the Improvements Committee the authority to appoint regular Park Keepers and also to make park bye-laws applicable to the various Liverpool Parks and recreation grounds.
Appointment of all the Liverpool Park Keepers as
Special Constables: ‘The Constable Park Keepers’
Section 113 of the same Act gave power to order prosecutions for contravening of the Liverpool parks byelaws and the power to prosecute offenders at the various Magistrates Courts located in and around Liverpool such as Walton and West Derby.
At a meeting of Liverpool Council’s Improvements Committee in 1871 a letter was read out from a member of the public. The letter concerned the recently opened Stanley Park:
disorderly youths and haunted by rogues and vagabonds.”
The committee meeting agreed to approach the Head Constable of the Liverpool Police and request he appoint all the Liverpool Park Keepers as Special Constables. The Head Constable at that time was Captain John James Greig, described as being a man from the same mould as Liverpool’s first Head Constable Michael James Whitty.
Head Constable Greig agreed to appoint the ‘Liverpool Park Keepers’ as Special Constables in the Liverpool Town Borough Police and pledged that the town’s Constables would also provide assistance.
The new ‘Constable Park Keepers’ were appointed and attested accordingly. A new uniform was introduced and came into use, comprising of a dark serge high stand collar tunic and matching trousers.
The buttons and numbers remained brass and a new type of helmet – what we now recognise as the tradition British Police helmet – was issued, with a brass closure mount and side roses displayed. The plate was made of brass and consisted of the ‘Liver Bird’ surrounded with laurel leaves with the words ‘Park Keeper’ upon it. The helmet plate was the same in all aspects of design as that being worn by the town’s Constables.
Sefton Park opened and Inspector Mr J Thompson appointed. He became responsible to the Curator of the Liverpool Parks and Gardens for the efficiency of the town’s Park Keeper Constables. He was provided with an office in Sefton Park’s Ibbotson Lane – which remained the Parks Police Office up to the day the Liverpool Park Police was disbanded in 1972. The new Inspector’s salary was recorded as being 28 shillings per week and the Constable Park Keepers received 20 shillings per week.
In June the Curator of Liverpool Parks drew the attention of the Corporation of Liverpool’s Improvement Committee to the arrest made by Park Keeper Constable James Dumble, who on the 1st June 1877 arrested a man in Stanley Park, for an offence of Indecent exposure. The man received a prison term of four months.
The Curator also mentioned that the Park Keepers were outnumbered by the class of person frequenting the parks and suggested the appointment of additional officers on the wage of 23 shillings immediately. The committee agreed and additional Park Keepers were appointed in Wavertree Park, Shield Park and Botanic Gardens, which brought the establishment to one Inspector and eighteen officers.
Liverpool becomes a City.
The first form of patrol vehicles in Liverpool
John Nott Bower born in York was appointed as Head Constable. He was the son of a Barrister-in-Law and took up his first police appointment in 1873 as a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary.
He introduced to Liverpool the first form of patrol vehicles – a fleet of horse drawn police wagons. Each horse drawn wagon had a section of men who would attend public order incidents and the like.
He is remembered as the officer responsible for introducing the Liverpool police mounted section. Later he made use of the newly invented telephone to link the City’s Bridewells together. He said during his time as Head Constable:
At the same time another observation was being made; a demand came from the more affluent and apparently socially accept citizens, who occupied the grand villas around the Liverpool’s city parks. They wished more police on park patrol in and around the parks and their homes.
The situation regarding the appointment of Constable Park Keepers as Special Constables prevailed until the passing of the Liverpool Improvements Act 1882.
Section 73 of that act gave Liverpool Corporation Improvements Committee the authority to appoint the Park Keepers as Constables without having to rely on the Liverpool Watch Committee as previously.
The title of “Park Keeper” was replaced by “Constable” and the helmet plate was replaced with one bearing the words “Park Constable”. The act extended the powers and privileges of Liverpool City’s Park Constables to all parks under the control of the Liverpool City Council, which included those parks beyond the new Liverpool boundaries. The following year batons and handcuffs were issued to Liverpool Park Constables.
On Monday 6th November 1882 an inquest was held at the George Hotel, Green Lane, Tuebrook, Liverpool. The inquest, before the Deputy Coroner Mr T H Baker concerned the death of a local man, 69 year-old Peter Bassford.
At 7am on Friday his dead body was found in a clay pit by a boy named Thomas Mason, who summoned Park Keeper Constable Enoch Dodd on duty at nearby Sheil Park.
The body was removed and taken to the "Police Dead House' in Green Lane. Sgt. Robinson, the officer in charge of the County Constabulary at Tuebrook, attended. He searched the deceased and found no signs of violence. He also visited the clay pit site and found no evidence of a struggle – Verdict Accidental Death.
Queen Victoria visits the city over 11th to 13th May and stayed as a guest of the Corporation of Liverpool. She opened the Liverpool Exhibition of Navigation, Commerce and Science on a site next to Liverpool Wavertree Park.
Queen Victoria travelled from Newsham House in Newsham Park to conduct various functions about the city. The Queen, accompanied by HRH the Duke of Connaught, drove through Newsham Park, Sefton Park, Princess Park and the Boulevards to St Georges Hall, later returning to Newsham House.1891:
Liverpool Park Constabulary police strength:
The Inspector at that time was Thomas H C. Marshall who resided with his wife at The Princes Lodge House in Sefton Park. In 1881 he had been living nearby at Holts Farm Cottage in Aigburth Vale.
- 1 Inspector
- 4 Sergeants
- 60 Constables
- Salary level 26 shillings per week to 30 shillings per week
Leonard Dunning appointed Chief Constable of Liverpool Police.
He was previously a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Liverpool’s Assistant Chief Constable under Nott Bower.
During his time as Chief Constable he headed a police force during some of the stormiest times of Liverpool history. He encountered serious public order problems, involving sectarian violence, industrial strikes and riot.
The same year Calderstones Park was purchased by Liverpool Corporation for £43,000 and opened to the public. The owners of the Calderstones estate were shipping magnates and friends of Sam Cunard the founder of the Cunard Shipping Line.
Park Constable Harry Corkhill seen on duty at Sefton Park. He was born in the old Toxteth Park area of Liverpool. He served in the Scots Guards during the Boar War. From about 1902 till 1915 he was stationed at Sefton Park. In 1915 he rejoined the army and after the First World War was discharged in poor health.
He was living at 44 Bickerton Street at the time of his death - Friday 18th July 1919. He was 44 years of age and a brave man of his times.
Francis Caldwall appointed Chief Constable of Liverpool City Police. He was a local man born of Scottish parents. His first appointment with the Liverpool police was as an assistant clerk working alongside his father, who was employed in a similar capacity. He became well liked and respected by his men for his fairness and consideration. But things were about to change on the 1st of August 1919.
On the 15th of April Liverpool City Police Head Constable Francis Caldwall wrote to the Under Secretary of State at the Home Office saying:
He went on to advocate that the Liverpool City Police take over the policing function and an increase of the police establishment to be able to undertake the policing of Liverpool Parks; viewing it as defined as “Special Duty” and referring to various matters including the Police Pension Fund.
On May 15th a letter was received from the Home Office in reply to the letter from the Head Constable:
Home Office documents on the Policing of Liverpool Parks remained classified and closed until 1969 – the endorsements on the margins of the document marked 126606 indicate similar questions may have been asked in June 1951 and April 1958.
The Liverpool Police go on Strike
On 1st August 1919, the Liverpool Police strike takes place. Some 2,364 men responded to the strike in the Liverpool City Police Force and it the neighbouring Borough Police Forces of Bootle, Wallasey and Birkenhead.A number of personalities lead the strike including:
- City Sergeant Robert Tissyman, The National Union of Police and Prison Officers leader in Liverpool, who had joined the police in October 1894.
- Another leader of the strike committee was Constable William Smithwick
In 1938 he was residing with his family at Hilary Road, Walton, in Liverpool.
The Liverpool Parks Police Headquarters was located at Liverpool’s Newsham Park near to Newsham House, which was the residence of HM Judges who attended the Liverpool Crown Courts at St Georges Hall.
During this time the various Park Police Offices came under the control of the individual Parks Superintendent, with overall responsibility held by Liverpool Corporation Parks Chief Superintendent.
The passing and implementation of the Liverpool Corporation Act 1921 and Section 221 allowed the appointment of ‘Park Constables’ to police the extensive Liverpool Parks – which repeated the powers of the 1882 Act. Officers extended their duties to all the city’s recreation grounds and cemeteries – with both foot and cycles patrols seen about the city.
The passing of the Liverpool Corporation Act 1921 reaffirmed that the Corporation of Liverpool had a responsibility not only to maintain the city’s public parks, but also to put in place a duty of care to protect those using them.
On the 17th August 1921, Park Police Constable Arthur Lawrenson (who was sworn as a Constable on 24th February 1919) was married to Maggie Smith at the 'Church of St Mary the Virgin' in the Village of West Derby. After his marriage he resided at 14 Mab Lane in West Derby, Liverpool. Later, along with his wife and son William he moved to a newly built Liverpool Corporation House at 137 Queens Drive Liverpool.
Constable 56 John Francis Higgins:
A former Constable with the Liverpool City Police Fire Service and Mounted Section.
In 1919 he was dismissed by the "Liverpool Corporation Watch Committee" for taking part in the Liverpool City Police Strike.
On the 13th June 1922 he was reappointed by Liverpool Corporation as a Constable in the Liverpool Parks Police.
He retired on the 15th of January 1951.
Newsham Park officers deployed:
Back row, (L to R):
- Constables 22 J. Mc Dermott
- Constable 11 S Jennings
- Constable 21 F Smith
- Constable 19 A Furguson
- Constable 27 T Mahon
- Constable 24 J Fitton
Front row, (L to R):
- Constable 23 J Jackson
- Constable 28 T London
- Constable 18 G Mahon
- Superintendent R. Street
- Sgt. 17 S Dickinson (Officer in charge)
- Constable 25 H Leyland
- Constable 26 Arthur C Lawrenson
WILLIAM BURNETT SMITHWICK – one of the men who led the way to the formation of the British Police Federation.
William Smithwick was later offered employment by the Liverpool Corporation as a Market Constable. He later became Chief Inspector with the Liverpool Market Police. During the First World War he had served with the Liverpool Kings Regiment. In 1928 he was awarded the OBE in recognition of his bravery arresting a 19-year old bank robber named WILLIAM McALLISTER.
At 11.25am on the 13th October 1926, McALLISTER entered the District Bank in Liverpool's Great Homer Street. He produced a revolver and shot WALTER TOOBY, an employee of the bank.
Market Constables SMITHWICK and MOORE on duty nearby became aware of the robbery. Market Constable MOORE chased McALLISTER who then fired at Liverpool Corporation Labourer JOHN STEPHENSON who tried to stop him. The bullet struck STEPHENSON in the head - he then fired again, wounding 57 year old ROBERT VIPOND.
The chase continued with Market Constable SMITHWICK arresting MC ALLISTER. During the chase he had shot and seriously wounded Liverpool City Constable JOHN CLARKE. The arrest was only made after McALLISTER had fired shots at SMITHWICK and tried to kill City Constable KERR.
On the 8th June 1928 The Edinburgh Gazette announced he had been awarded "The Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service" (OBE). On the 1st of August that year the award was presented to him at Liverpool Town Hall by Liverpool's first Lady Lord Mayor Mrs Margaret Beavan. Also present was Lord Derby and William's wife Marjorie.
Another officer from that period was Constable Joseph Teesdale Smith who later became Chief Constable of the Liverpool City Police, while his brother Kendall (Ken) followed his own career to become a Sergeant with the Liverpool Parks Police.
An Historic Day for Liverpool
Liverpool Walton Hall Park opened.
On the 18th July King George V opened Walton Hall Park to the public. The park, covering 130 acres, had been part of the land owned by the Walton Family dating back to before 1194 when Henry De Walton was a steward of the West Derby Hundred.
On the same day the King opened the East Lancashire Road situated next to the park, which then linked the City of Liverpool with the City of Manchester;
The day concluded with the opening of the Mersey Tunnel.
The Liverpool Park Police establishment stood at four uniformed Sergeants and fifty four Constables. No evidence of formal training can be found – but it is known that training of some sort did take place at the Liverpool City Police establishment at Everton Terrace in Liverpool.
In March a new type of patrol helmet for Sergeants was introduced but never issued. At the same time Constable Edward Hutchinson of Noel Street in Toxteth was pounding the beat around the vast Sefton and Princess parks of Liverpool.
The Second World War Years for the Liverpool Parks Police
The Second World War had a grave effect on the service. The removal of railings around all of the parks and the formation of the National Police Reserve were two effects on the force.
On Sunday 4th May Park Constable William Clucas was killed in Stanley Park during a German Bombing raid over Liverpool. The Constable, who it is believed was born in the Isle of Man, was aged 43 years. He died alongside his wife Daisy 39 years and their 8 year old twins Barbra and Woodforde.
Bombing had started over Liverpool at about 22.00hrs on Saturday 3rd of May and stopped about 05.00hrs on Sunday morning, later that day at about midnight it resumed until about 04.30hrs on Monday morning.
Constable Clucas and his family resided in The Stanley Park in the Lodge House on Mill Lane at the junction with Anfield Road in Liverpool; called by older residents of the area as the ‘Constables Lodge House’. The officer had been on duty during that period and had presumably at some point taken shelter with his family during the Blitz.
The bodies of the Constable and his family were recovered from the rubble. Attending the site of the bombing were Sgt Morrison and Constable 43 Stanley Irwin of the Liverpool Park Police.
Sgt. "Alf" Morrison was a well known and respected local policeman who lived a short walk from the park at 15 Wenlock Road.
Constable Irwin had been deployed on duty at Liverpool Docks, as part of the war time national police reserve. He arrived at the bomb site to find his friend, colleague and his family had all been killed. The bombing over those few days was described by him as terrible with many people killed.
Note:- The list shows the names of all men employed by Liverpool Corporation Parks Department at Stanley Park in May 1941. Those on active service are also named.
The first five names are Police Officers stationed at the park, followed by the names of gardeners and the Parks administration support staff.
William (Bill) Wilson, a close friend of Constable Clucas, is named on the list. After returning from active service during WW2 he went back to Liverpool Stanley Park. He went on to become a highly respected town gardener for Liverpool City Council and worked on the Liverpool International Garden Festival project. He remains active to this day – but always remembers his friend Constable William Clucas and the officers family.
The known strength of the force during the wars years was reduced to four sergeants and thirty three constables. This, together with the removal of the gates and metal railings from all Liverpool Parks left them vulnerable and badly exposed. The Watch Committee was approached by the Parks Committee and asked formally for support from the City police to police the parks.
By the end of the war the force had lost another Sergeant and a further ten more constables, leaving the force with only 3 sergeants and 23 constables – less than half the established strength of 10 years earlier.
Restructuring of the Liverpool Parks Police
Liverpool City Council made the decision to overhaul the force and manning levels would be increased substantially.
Chief Inspector Charles Dean Gibson was born in Liverpool on 13th October 1894. He was the son of a former Liverpool Police Sergeant Jervis Gibson, who had served some 26 years. Charles's grandfather had also been a policeman with the Royal Irish Constabulary many years before.
On the 14th May 1914 Charles joined the Royal Field Artillery and while on active service was awarded the Military Medal. On the 30th June 1919 he joined Liverpool's City Police as a Constable and in 1925 was promoted to Sergeant. By 1942 he had been appointed as an Inspector and in 1950 a Chief Inspector. He retired from the City force on the 13th October 1954 – but continued his police career with the Liverpool Parks Police until the 13th April 1956. He died on the 18th August 1980.
Inspector Charles Dean Gibson of Liverpool City Police was seconded to oversee the restructure of Liverpool's Parks Police.
A new selection criteria based on the City Police was introduced. Recruits needed to be 5’8” in height, under 35 years of age, of unquestionable character and pass both an education and fitness test.
The uniform also came under review; a Metropolitan police style patrol helmet was introduced with chrome metal helmet plate and buttons etc.
On 5th May the 30 Constables appointed from 350 applicants began their Police Induction Training. The training was undertaken by the City Police under the Command of Inspector Gibson at Liverpool Park Police Headquarters, located in the Mansion House at Calderstones Park in Liverpool.
The curriculum included first aid and lifesaving training, with great emphasis on this due to the vast number of persons visiting the park and number of lakes and water features associated with Liverpool parklands.
In late June the new recruits were posted to their respective Park Police divisional areas of duty. The existing Constables were then brought in for retraining, which took a number of months to complete.
The operational deployment of the force was divided into five areas of over 115 parks and cemeteries spread over an “area of green land” covering a 45 square miles area over the City of Liverpool.
The city’s large parks such as Sefton, Stanley, and Newsham Parks, had established Park Police Offices, from which Constables were deployed on foot or cycle to police other smaller parks, recreation grounds and cemeteries.
The operational strength was now 1 Inspector, 5 Sergeants and 70 Constables – all by then had been issued with the new style uniform and batons.
- To take back the parks from criminal elements
- Form good community relations
- Eradicate crime from the Liverpool Parks to the best of the forces ability
The result was outstanding and the Liverpool Parks again became safe places to visit, enjoy and work in. This resulted in the Liverpool Parks having a reputation of being places that people enjoyed themselves without the fear of interference, places were generations of Liverpool folk would be able to play in safety.
In addition to the enforcement of the byelaw and the prosecution of offenders, the Constables dealt with a variety of criminal offences, including indecency, offences against the person, offences of robbery and the normal duties the British Police undertake each and every day; plain clothes operations were also undertaken to identify and arrest offenders.
Newsham Park Police Office: Officers in charge Sgt 15 Dinwoodie and Acting Sgt 22 Lynch.
The Life and Times of my Father:
Constable 30 William Edward Spencer Bond
Bill was born in Swinton, Manchester in a large but not a very close family. He left home and joined the Royal Navy at the outcome of WW2 as a gunner. Like so many others at this time serving in dangerous undertakings all over the world.
Being 17 years of age he was known on board by all the ratings as young "Bondy" as he was the youngest aboard. He never spoke much about the war to me, just places he had seen but on one occasion, he did mention they were torpedoed. Many of the crew looked over the side and watched the torpedo go the full length of the ship just a couple of feet away!!! Wow.
Whether he joined the 'Liverpool Park Police' straight after the war or not we are not sure but I remember him coming home with other policemen in the mid-fifties. As a boy myself at the time I was a bit of a mischievous bugger and I always worried in case they recognized me for one prank or another in vast areas of Liverpool's Stanley Park.
There were always games of football taking place at the park and on Saturdays there was the mass of supporters crossing the park to Liverpool or Everton’s football ground as the park was between them both, at least you always knew who was playing at home.
As for me his young son, I lived in the park as it was a fantastic place to play; it even had its own large paddling pool, bandstand, swings slides the lot – even rowing boats for hire on the lake. As a child you could play football or just explore all day, have a picnic and at the same time we always felt safe.
A couple of incidents I well remember as a lad. One was where I had crossed the sacred bowling green with the policeman chasing me very determined to catch me. I ran into the toilet at the top of the bowling green area jumped on the urinals and over the park wall into a rubbish area then stumbled on some metal and had to have two stitches in my hand and two in my leg, thankfully on this occasion the policeman gave up the chase. (Yes poetic justice) anyway I learnt my lesson.
Another incident was the railings around the park, 6 foot railings but I knew where there was a missing one and managed to stick my head through. The fire brigade had to be called to cut me free.
We lived in Cockerell Street in Walton which was a terraced house across the road from the park. Dad and his wife Margie were totally devoted to each other. He was a fantastic father and at that time I the only child, two more boys would follow over the next 14 years. His in-laws lived around the corner on Walton Lane facing the Park gates so he had to be on his best behavior. Mum still remembers the time Dad has his helmet knocked off by an undesirable and Dad marching him off to the local police station, which would have been the Anfield Road Police Station that remains in use to this day. Knowing Dad it would have hurt his pride a little I’m sure.
When I was an adult I realized that these police officers where very smart, not only in appearance but I remember all the medals they had, very proud men but seemingly poorly paid. One of the main objectives was looking for the various "unwelcome visitors" who they knew frequented the parks and children’s playgrounds. They gave people a great sense of security to see a 'copper' walking around keeping a good grip on things. In those days people where scared of the Police as they had more leeway shall we say.
Anyway back to Dad, he did eventually leave the Police and went to work at Cammel Laird as senior security officer and was proud to have his picture taken with the Queen Mother at the launching of the luxury Cruise Liner the Windsor Castle.
When he was 67 years of age he suffered a massive stroke and this left Dad unable to converse and was unable to do anything for himself and this went on in the nursing home for over 13 years where Mum (Margie) spent every minute she could every day throughout and on many occasions stopping all night in a upright chair as she herself although permanently in great pain as she has been severely disabled since she was 13 years old.
Dad always said to his three sons (look after Mum), “That goes without saying”
Bill Bond (Junior) and wife Cynthia.
Note: Bill (Junior) born in 1949. After army service he later joined the Great Manchester Police as a "Trainer” – he is now retired.
In October Inspector Gibson retired from Liverpool City Police and was appointed on the 15th of that same month as a member of the Liverpool Park Police. He was sworn in again as a Constable and then appointed ‘Head Constable’ of the Liverpool Parks Police at the rank of Chief Inspector. A single Police Chief Officer’s cap badge was commissioned for him by a uniform manufacturer in Birmingham.
On the 13th of April, Chief Inspector Charles Dean Gibson retired from the police service.
To the right may be viewed his retirement General Order; also an article from the Liverpool Echo (click on either image to enlarge).
Further related documents may be found in the "Documents and Equipment" gallery.
Inspector John Buchanan appointed
as head of
the Liverpool Parks Police
He had joined the Liverpool Parks Police in May 1948 and by 1951 had been promoted to the rank of Sergeant. A former wartime member of the RAF in a military police role, he held a law degree and over the years performed valuable work in the preparation of prosecutions and also prosecuted at the City Magistrates Courts.
In statue he was a tall, heavy set man presenting the authority rank and bearing. He was a man well respected by all and was ideal for the position of Head Constable of the Liverpool Parks Police.
Over the years his personality left its imprint among the rank and file members of the force. He was a police officer years ahead of his time with his views and application of community policing, coupled with the concept of policing with the public consent.
New Uniform Issued; open collar tunics issued with blue shirts and black ties now being worn by all ranks of the force. A new patrol helmet was issued, known as the Metropolitan chrome rose type, which is still worn to this day by many of the country’s police forces.
The same year saw the introduction of two Vesper Motor Scooters – by 1963 the force had acquired 12 scooters on patrol about the city’s parks. Likewise the Liverpool City Police had many more. Both forces used this form of transport until the 1970’s.
Joseph Teesdale Smith appointed Chief Constable of Liverpool City Police.
Kendall (Ken) Thomas Smith, his brother, was at this time a Section Sergeant and Acting Inspector when Inspector Buchanan was away from operational duty.
Park Police Constable 75 James Griffiths awarded the Bronze Marine Medal for saving a woman from drowning in the River Mersey. The rescue took place in the river at Otterspool Promenade. Also involved was Liverpool City Constable 54c Leonard Wardell, who received a similar award.
Later Constable Griffiths was promoted to Sergeant and became responsible for the teaching of life saving skills to the members of the Liverpool Parks Constabulary.
In that same year Liverpool City Police was 130 short of the approved manning levels; during this time a number of Park Constables had resigned to join other forces.
A new cap badge was issued to officers. A similar badge in design had been introduced at the airport in 1961 for the Liverpool Airport Constabulary.
Chief Constable Smith retired – and Acting Chief Constable Bert Balmer took over command of the Liverpool City Police.
Acting Chief Constable Balmer and the Kray Twins
Acting Chief Constable Bert Balmer had spent some 41 years in the City Police and was highly respected by Liverpool people. Born in Liverpool, he was known to have taken the criminal fraternity face on, including the Kray Twins and their London criminal associates.
The Kray twins arrived at Liverpool’s Lime Street Station and Balmer was waiting with his team. Using the police ‘Ways and Means Act’ he put them back on the train to London.
According to some the Kray’s were so shocked by the reception at Liverpool, that they got off the train at nearby Runcorn and stayed overnight in a local hotel, in order to allow them time to get over the shock and rethink matters.
Due to Home Office regulations Assistant Chief Constable Bert Balmer was never appointed as the Chief Constable, as he had never served in another force.
Acting Chief Constable Bert Balmer had tremendous respect for the rank and file members of both his Liverpool City Police and the Liverpool Parks Constabulary. He was often seen walking in Calderstones Park with his wife; the patrolling Park Constables giving a friendly salute as he passed on his patrol. A detachment of officers from the Liverpool Parks Police were among the many who attended his funeral some years later.
James Haughton appointed Chief Constable; much of the work of reorganising the formation of the Liverpool and Bootle Constabulary fell to him.
Constable 79 Derek Ellis.
At 19 years of age he was 'Sworn and Appointed' as a Constable on Monday 7th June 1965. Prior to disbandment he transferred to the Lancashire Constabulary and was stationed just outside the 'City of Liverpool' at Huyton. He later emigrated with his family to Ontario and served till retirement with the Canadian Police.
The Annual Report to the Liverpool City Council Parks and Gardens Committee stated:
"Liverpool Parks Police had dealt with 1,186 incidents in that year. Some 43 criminal convictions in the City Magistrates and Crown Courts had been recorded and 89 police cautions issued. Crime reported was 300 offences against property and persons, which was a decrease from the previous year of 25%.
It was noted that Liverpool’s Parks were beginning to suffer from the depositing litter and rubbish. The number of accidents that officers attended and administered first aid to injured persons numbered 316. 9 Police Commendations were issued that year from the Director of Liverpool Parks and Gardens and Chief Constables. Also 31 First Aid awards were given after training with the St John Ambulance Association.
Training continued with examinations in police duty and general education being taken and passed. The force had in place 3 grades of Constables known as A. B. and C.; progression in the rank was via examinations which lead to a salary increase in the recognised grading system."
The same year Police Dogs were introduced to the Liverpool Parks Police. The first dog called Sabre was on duty by the end of the year and the following year 2 further dogs were introduced.
Training of the police dogs and handlers were undertaken at the Liverpool City Police Training Centre at Mather Avenue in Liverpool, alongside members of the City dog section.
By now the Liverpool Park Police dog section numbered 6. The training course lasted 6 weeks and with officers deployed later for 1 day every fortnight on Home Office approved continuation training.
This often brought them away from policing the parks, with joint operational tours alongside the Liverpool City Police dog handler and members of the Liverpool Airport Constabulary Police Dog Section.
Concern was expressed at this time that over recent years the force had lost 30 experienced officers to other police forces and the private security industry, who were openly on the lookout for suitable men and would pay much higher salaries than those associated with the police pay at the time.
The Conditions of Service of the new factories, such as the Ford and Vauxhall motor plants were much more attractive than those in the police service. The in-house security positions offered in those organisations were very lucrative and career based.
Liverpool and Bootle Constabulary became operational. On the 1st of April the Liverpool City Police was amalgamated with the Bootle Borough Police Force to form the Liverpool and Bootle Constabulary.
New Vehicles for the Liverpool Parks
Constabulary and the latest technology
Liverpool Parks Constabulary introduced a fleet of 5 new green coloured Austin Mini Vans which had police illuminated roof signs – within a few years the vans were painted dark blue.
The Austin Mini patrol vans were fitted with ‘Pye’ manufactured radio systems. Personal radios were introduced for Sergeants and those Constables on isolated patrol duties. A 60 foot mast was erected at the Control Room located in the Police Office at Liverpool Calderstones Park which gave radio cover to all parts of the city.
The challenge of policing fairgrounds visiting the larger parks was handled well by the ranks of the Liverpool Parks Constabulary. The travelling fairgrounds attracted hundreds of Liverpool youths, in various forms from ‘Teddy boys’ to the ‘Mods and Rocker’ gangs.
The well planned and rehearsed policing role, involving traditional helmeted Constables, backed up by members of the dog section was maintained and in place up to day of disbandment in 1972.
The Annual Report stated that 1,569 incidents had been reported, recorded and actioned by the Liverpool Parks Constabulary and 179 accidents resulting in First Aid treatment by officers from the force. Public Order and Indecency were under control and numbered less 100 incidents. Park bye-law prosecution and convictions numbered 81, however by now some prosecutors believed park bye-laws were no longer enforceable, and were not keen to process.
However the issue of enforcing and prosecution of offenders for bye-law offences was challenged by Mr Buchanan, who believed on some occasions a form of ‘Zero Tolerance Policing’ was needed to ensure good order was kept. Such police action would help overcome bigger problems that could develop if not checked or challenged.
A good example, unique to Liverpool police, was the application of Section 416 of the Liverpool Corporation Act 1921, used by both the Park and City Police in Liverpool, which gave a power to arrest unknown offenders for acts of disorderly behaviours – without the more serious offences under the Public Order Act 1936 needing to be considered.
The need for teamwork, steadfastness and
self-discipline in the Liverpool Parks Police
The year of 1969 also saw the development of some aspects of public order that would be challenging both to the Liverpool Parks Constabulary and the police service in general.
Large scale pubic order problems of violent groups of so called football supporters began to appear on match days in and around the 2 large football grounds located between Stanley Park.
The Park Police Constables on duty at the vast Stanley Park had for over 70 years been witness to the tide of jubilant Everton and Liverpool fans as they made their way to and from the grounds. In fact Stanley Park was the original home of Everton Football Club. The clubs first match was played on the 20th December 1892. The players had stored their goalposts in the Constables Park Lodge in Mill Lane.
Individual Park Police Officers had become well known to the supporters over the years and good friendly Liverpudlian humour and banter took place most Saturday’s between the police and supporters.
On warmer days the large boating lake at Stanley Park was traditionally a place to pass a few hours before the big match took place – sometimes the demon drink from the nearby pubs over spilt into the park causing disorder among a few football fans – but was quickly sorted out by the Park Constables on duty in the area.
During the Saturdays when the football games were played an estimated 30,000 people could pass to and from the respective football stadiums via Stanley Park. The members of the Liverpool Parks Constabulary were always supported by officers from the City Police and in general the situation was pleasant for all concerned – both for the fans and the individual police officers.
However things changed in early 1969 with the arrival of waves of youths and men bent on public disorder before and after the football games. The pleasant fields and walkways of Liverpool Stanley Park often became a medieval battle ground with the Parks Constables taking the full force. No time to think or to ask “What am I doing Here”, often the Parks Constables’ life was threatened by the gangs, pushing and fighting their way through the park and fighting with rival football gangs. Team work was essential to survive. No stab proof vests in those days. No riot batons or riot shields, just a wooden baton and a Bobbies helmet. The police issue baton was only to be drawn on a Supervisory Officers order or when you were up against a wall with no way out.
Cars and coaches were smashed up – gangs of so called visiting football supporters often rioted along Priory Road and inside the park. Fighting before and after the football matches became the norm along Priory Road and split over to the nearby Anfield Cemetery next to the park.
The extensive football match car park inside Stanley Park was also policed by members of the Liverpool Parks Constabulary. This location was another flash point and often became the centre of the battle ground – with Sgt 43 Stan Irwin (pictured, right), then in his early 60’s, and who resided in the Constables Lodge House at the corner of Anfield Road in Stanley Park, leading counter charges against the hooligan gangs.
He was a man who always led from the front – often waving his Sergeants signal stick, unique to the Liverpool Police, above his head accompanied by verbal comments which ended with the words “Get Out of My Park”.
The mobile section and dog handlers, under the command of Sgt Bill Quick and Sgt 48 Bill Noakes, were also a formidable group on those difficult days. Liverpool Parks Constabulary dog handlers, who included Constable David Brookfield, Constable Peter Smith, Constable Alan Grisedale, Constable Joe Beeley, Constable Terry Gaven and Acting Sgt Jim Putt all remained steadfast and never flinched against the violent groups of hooligans.
Within a few hours all would be back to normal at Liverpool’s Stanley Park and the area in and around the football grounds would became peaceful again. The Liverpool Parks Constabulary members would then return to their normal duties. However, like it or not those experiences were a training ground for teamwork, steadfastness and self discipline – against tremendous provocation and operational difficulties.
In a total contradiction to the above, for almost 100 years the Liverpool Parks Constabulary members stationed at Stanley Park had sounded their whistles ‘One Hour before Sunset’. On hearing the Constables’ whistle sounding, hundreds of people would leave the park without challenge to the authority of the Constable and the gates would then be closed.
The exit process was always accompanied by respect for the police with friendly goodnight remarks to the Constables concerned as the last gate was shut being closed with him standing nearby.
Liverpool Park Constables to be proud of
– but changing attitudes
Park Constables such as Constable Peter Ashcroft, who died in service in 1969, Constable 29 Frank Diggle (pictured below), Constable 52 Ben Johnson, Constable Jimmy Price, Constable 49 Len Marsden, Constable J Connor, Constable 89 John Hutchinson, Constable 31 Brian Grenville, Constable 78 Frank Evans, Constable 83 Len Mulvern, Constable David Brookfield and Constable 47 Alan Leitch (pictured below) were all classic examples of what British policing was all about.
These men along with Sgt 43 Stanley Irwin and Constable 42 Alan Grisedale, who resided in a Park Police House in nearby Walton Lane, had policed Stanley Park for many years. They had been witness to the comings and goings of generations of people living in and around the two parks that dominated the heavily populated areas of north Liverpool.
At the same time the South Liverpool parks in and around the grandeur of Toxteth were also feeling a change towards the Liverpool Parks Constabulary and the members of the local police.
Attitudes among both black and white Liverpool youths appeared to be changing. Liverpool is a great city of tolerance and people of all colours, races and religion have freely mixed and intermarried. An unwritten respect for the individual police officer who patrolled the local streets was always evident with most Liverpool people, the same applied to the Park Bobbies, who the public respected as they looked after their children’s safety while playing in the parks.
However in the summer months of late 60’s a change was being seen among long serving and experienced officers; a change in attitude and respect was seen among the young. Large gangs of youths, mainly local lads, and sometimes numbering 200 would converge in and around the large boating lake at Sefton Park.
The groups of young men would occupy the hilly areas overlooking the boating lake; a lot of them had been moved into the park by City Constables, without any malice or any bad feeling to them, but to get them off the streets out of trouble and into the parks.
The first Indian-born Liverpool Parks Police Constable
A number of Parks Police Constables were well established in Sefton Park and were highly respected by the park's residents and visitors.
One outstanding officer was Constable 40 Mohammed Sabir Burki, born on the 20th of June, 1936 in Jhelum India – now part of Pakistan. In 1966, after service with the Royal Navy, he was "Appointed and Sworn" as a Liverpool Parks Police Constable.
From the first day of his appointment he set about policing in a highly professional manner which pleased his senior officers and the general public. In December 1984 he died, aged 48 years, after a long fight with cancer.
He was known to all as ‘Fred’ a man who wanted to be a doctor, who spoke a number of languages and a man who was able to mix feely as a policeman with the various ethnic people living and using Liverpool’s Princess and Sefton Parks.
Park Constable 40 Burki was believed to be the first Indian born police officer appointed as a constable in Liverpool.
During this period one incident remembered was the arrest by Constable Burki of a youth who was frogmarched under arrest across Sefton Park to the front door of the Police Bridewell, located in Lark Lane. Constable Burki was followed by a hostile group of 30 or so youths and men.
In September 1970 Constable Burki received a Commendation which read: “For persistence and tenacity in the face of considerable resistance, affecting several arrests in Liverpool Sefton Park”.
Other Constables who received Commendations for their work during those trying days were Constable 47 Joe Beeley and Constable 56 Terry Gaven who were members of the dog section – both officers were assaulted while carrying out their duties by hostile crowds in Liverpool’s Sefton Park. The dog section at that time was lead by Acting Sergeant Jim Putt who also received Commendations alongside Constable 25 Keith Cox.
At that time the Sefton Park police section was under the command of Sgt John Capstick, who also received a commendation for his work over those difficult few years.
Another officer remembered for his devotion to his duty and the people of the area was Constable David Cooper. In the summer of 1971 he was making an arrest alongside Constable Peter Dellius and was seriously assaulted. He returned to duty but died suddenly two years later leaving a young wife and family.
During that period officers from both the Parks Constabulary and the Liverpool and Bootle Constabulary felt that those days indicated a real change in the attitude felt towards them by the local community.
Importantly “what was it all leading too?” That question was being asked each day by the Liverpool Park Constabulary ranks trying to do their duty.
Some years later in the summer of 1981 that question may have been answered with the outbreak of the Merseyside Riots; the so called Toxteth Riots which started in the roads and streets located around Liverpool’s Sefton and Toxteth Parks.
Back to 1971 and the training and the appointment of suitable officers continued to be an important aspect. All Supervisory officers had been deployed to mobile duties and to assist in the force Radio Room – this was to ensure they all gained the skills and experience now being needed.
The Liverpool Park Constabulary were coming under pressure and their future role within the infrastructure of the City Council coupled with the establishing of larger police forces, more mobility of officers and the philosophy of operational mutual aid was leaving the Liverpool Parks Constabulary behind to face uncertain times.
However the policing philosophy of Mutual Aid had been in place with the City and Parks Police for 100 years. The collaboration with the City Police during the formation of the Parks Police police-dog section being a recent example. The close working relationship by officers from both forces established over many years should have continued and been built upon, unfortunately this was not understood by Liverpool City Council at that time.
Superintendent John Buchanan, the Liverpool Parks Constabularies Head Constable, was also the Senior Constabulary Officer for Liverpool Airport and the officer in charge of the detachment of Airport Police. Times were changing involving the policing of airports – international terrorism had arrived. Organisations such as the Irish Republic Army were active in the city and bombings were taking place on mainland Britain. Challenging times were ahead for the policing role at Liverpool Airport.
The Croxteth Hall estate had also been donated to the City of Liverpool by the late Lord Derby – the Liverpool Parks Constabulary was to police the park land estate – but all that was to change in the coming months.
The disbandment of the Liverpool
Parks Police after 160+ years of service
Letter to Sgt 54 Bill Quick (right);
The Home Office reply to the concerns outlined by all ranks of the Liverpool Parks Police that Liverpool City Council was about to disband the force.
On the 24th of January Constable David Wilkinson was sworn and appointed as a Constable. At that time he was unaware that he would be the last Constable in the history of Liverpool Parks Police to be appointed.
In 1989 he attended ‘The Police Staff College Junior Command Course’ (pictured left) as an Inspector. He saw service with the Liverpool Parks Police, Merseyside Police and Dover Harbour Police.
The Liverpool Parks Police were visited by a Department of Environment Working party and a senior Metropolitan Police officer. They studied the Liverpool Parks Constabulary, both its operational methods and its historical commitment to the City and its people – their reports lead to the formation of the Royal Parks Constabulary in London.
The members of the Liverpool Parks Constabulary were told the same year that the force was to be disbanded in favour of a Liverpool City Council Security Force. At the disbandment some members of the Park and Airport Constabularies were transferred to the City Security Force.
The Last Tour of Duty of The Liverpool Parks Police
On the 31st March the last tour of duty took place. It was a fine spring morning and the Liverpool Parks Constables marched out for duty for the very last time, knowing that by the end of the day over 100 years of service to the great City of Liverpool and its people will end.
At one hour after sunset police whistles sounded over the miles of the gated Liverpool parks and the tradition of closing the large Liverpool Parks took place for the last time. Officers then returned to their police offices, took off their caps and helmets and put them inside their clothing lockers, locked them and went off duty for the last time – leaving for home wondering and waited in trepidation at what the future would bring.
At the same time Superintendent John Buchannan’s office was closed, police signs on the Park Police Offices were taken down and the doors closed shut.
Superintendent John Buchanan, Head Constable of the Liverpool Parks Constabulary, who was also the Senior Constabulary Officer commanding the Airport Constabulary at Liverpool Airport, then retired to fade into Liverpool history; he died a few years later, unacknowledged or recognised for all he had achieved for the City of Liverpool and its people.
Concluding the story of the Liverpool Parks Police
To conclude, Liverpool City Council appeared not to have applied for the issue of HM Police Long Service Medal to those officers who may have qualified; most of those men have long since gone, a few remain to tell the stories of a small but proud police service that looked after generations of Liverpool people.
On the 1st of April 1972, Liverpool City Council’s new Security Force took over the role from the Liverpool Parks Constabulary and also the policing role from the Airport Constabulary at the Liverpool City Council-owned Airport, which is located in the southern part of the city.
The head of that department then had all the historical records of the former Liverpool Parks Constabulary removed and destroyed. With them went a very important part of Liverpool social and policing history.
2012 – The Diamond Jubilee Year
of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
On 29th February 2012, The Right Worshipful, The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Frank Prendergast, held a formal Civic Reception at Liverpool Town Hall to commemorate the disbandment of the force 40 years previously.
Eighteen of the surviving former members of the Liverpool Parks Police came together for a “Final Parade” at the reception, they were each presented with an illuminated scroll in recognition of their service to the City by the Lord Mayor.
More pictures may be found in the Gallery (click here).
* Click on either image to view full-screen.
We have had a truly delightful time, working with the retired Liverpool Policemen who – with a passion – put together this history of the Liverpool Parks Police.
It was a story that we never knew about, about a force we had never heard of.
We know this piece of history will be thoroughly captivating for many Liverpudlians, historians, ex police officers and the general public alike.
It has been a real honour in helping to tell this story.
BUT we want to know more!
If YOU have any stories, photos or tales to tell about the Liverpool Parks Police, please Contact Us and help us keep alive the memory this wonderful police force.