Research - Police

A Brief History

With thanks to the BTP and NERA member Nick Fleetwood for this information.
The first mention of the railway police was in 1826 when the Stockton & Darlington Railway Company employed Police Constables. 
The NER Police was formed on 31st July 1854 from the amalgamation of three railway police forces:
  • York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway Police
  • Leeds and Northern Railway Police
  • York and North Midland Railway Police
Before it was merged into the London and North Eastern Railway Police on 1st January 1923 it had swallowed up no less that 14 other minor railway and dock forces.

The Force was divided into four divisions each of which in 1919 was headed by a Superintendent:

  • Northern Division → Newcastle
  • Central Division → Darlington
  • Southern Division: → York
  • Eastern Division → Hull

The Chief Officer prior to the First World War was Captain William HORWOOD. He was a forward thinking officer who introduced many benefits to his officers not enjoyed by many other forces at that time. He had libraries set up for his officers to study for promotion. He encouraged sporting events and the officers enjoyed "Sports and Social Clubs" and regular sports days where officers could compete for trophies many of which are still in BTP possession.

One of HORWOODs lasting achievements was the introduction of the first ever British Police Dog Section at Hull Docks. On the outbreak of the Great War he returned to the colours and his post was taken by his Chief Clerk (Mr E.T. BARRELL). Whist serving he gained the rank of Brigadier General and was awarded the D.S.O. His pioneering work with the North Eastern Railway Police had obviously made an impression on the Home Secretary because in 1920 he was appointed the fifth Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Mr BARRELL became the Chief of Police.
HORWOOD served as the Commissioner for the Metropolis for eight years during which time he established the "Flying Squad" and introduced wireless communications to the Force. At one point he was subject to an attempted murder plot when a box of poisoned chocolates was sent to him and this attracted the nickname "Chocolate Soldier" with his officers. He was later knighted.
Twelve NER Police Officers were killed whilst on active service during the Great War. Their names are recorded on the NER War Memorial near York Railway Station.
The strength of the Force in 1916 was 339 but on the merge of the force in 1923 it had grown to over 450.
The British Transport Police History Group

The British Transport Police History Group (BTPHG) was formed in 2009 and receives the support of the National Association for Retired British Transport Police Officers (NARBTPO). Membership is open to retired and serving officers and staff of the British Transport Police and any other individual or organisation by invitation.

The British Transport Police Force has its roots very early in the history of the British police service. The earliest record of a railway police force pre-dates the formation of the Metropolitan Police (usually recognised as the first modern police force in England & Wales), by at least 4 years. No-one really knows just how many individual railway, dock and canal police forces existed in the 19th Century, but they probably numbered over a hundred. Largely unsung and – in many cases, unremembered – these early forces combined to form the modern BTP and give it one of the richest histories of any police force in Britain. Sadly though, much of this heritage has already been lost through fires, war and apathy.

Please click on this link to access the website of the The British Transport Police History Group for further information.

In the Photo Gallery of the British Transport Police History Group, there are further photographs of NER and related company policemen and dogs.

Individual Officers
George Henry Brown b c 1866
Notes supplied by Nick Fleetwood, photo courtest of BTPHG

PC Brown and Dog

George Henry Brown started on the Hull and Barnsley Railway on 26th April 1898 and was allocated to Alexandra Dock where he was PC3. In 1914 he transferred to the Joint Dock (King George Dock - North Eastern and Hull and Barnsley) initially as a PC but it is thought that he was shortly promoted to the position of Sergeant and this may even have been effctive from his appointment. In 1916 he was promoted to Inspector 3rd Class and finished on 31st December 1925, when he was compulsorily retired as part of the LNER redundancy programme. This information has been gathered by Nick from various railway records and published sources such as the LNER magazine.
Sgt Allinson
Sgt Allinson and Jim at Hull Docks