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PMCC - Magazine


Friday 17th April 2015

Editor - Martin Hodder

James Treversh - Design

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On the beat with Martin

Northants Sergeant’s commandeered car in 1899 was first pursuit in Britain

Following on from our article in our previous issue about what may well be the first police car in Britain, we have found an account of the first car chase in the UK… possibly even the first in the world. Both stories date to the very end of the 1800s and are of considerable significance in police historical terms.


The car chase account comes courtesy of the Federation magazine of December 1997 and concerns an event that took place in Northampton in 1899. The story concerns a fleeing suspect, a quick-thinking police officer and a Benz motor car… which the Sergeant commandeered, along with its owner who had to drive his pride and joy in pursuit of the fugitive.


It all ended well, although not for the suspect who was later brought before the Magistrates and convicted. The officer, Hector MacLeod went on to become Deputy Chief Constable of Northamptonshire, and the Benz car earned its place in history as the first motor vehicle to be used in a chase situation. We don’t know, but there has to be a chance that this was the first such event in the world; it was certainly the first in Great Britain.


Incidentally, the article in the Federation magazine, which we have reproduced verbatim, refers to the speed limit for motor vehicles at the time being 12mph. But this may not be the case.


Between 1865 and 1896 locomotives [steam-powered principally] on the highway had to be preceded by a pedestrian carrying a red flag and were subject to a speed limit of 2mph in cities, towns and villages and 4mph elsewhere.


But then the internal combustion engine began to change things. On January 28 1896, Walter Arnold of East Peckham, Kent became the first person in Britain to be successfully charged with speeding. Travelling at approximately 8mph, he had exceeded the 2mph speed limit for towns. Fined 1 shilling plus costs, Arnold had been caught by a police officer who had given chase on a bicycle.


The maximum speed limit was then increased to 14mph and again, in 1903, to 20mph. In 1930 speed limits for cars and motorcycles were abolished, with more modern limits (principally the 30mph limit in built-up areas) starting to come in a bit later.


Anyway, back to our car chase story. Clearly, it wasn’t an incident with a car pursuing another motor vehicle, and neither was it a police car, but the fact remains that a vehicle commandeered by an officer was used to pursue a suspect.


It’s like our previous story about the Chief Constable’s own car being used on official business. As we said last time, there was no such thing in 1898 or ’99 (when cars were astonishingly rare) as a police car in the way we understand it today, but in both cases we’re talking about vehicles being used on police business.


How things have changed since those final years of Victoria’s reign, when we had no police cars as such, and bobbies on bikes pursued speeding drivers. Mind you, I did see a police officer on a bicycle (mountain bike) this week in Kibworth, Leicestershire. But he was sitting on it, on the footpath, enjoying a leisurely chat with an attractive lady, not even noticing the passing cars, or much else I wouldn’t think!


PC Hodder, over and out.




From Police Review and Parade Gossip, November 9, 1894


The Chief Constable of  Glossop

Mr William H Hodgson

Mr. William H. Hodgson, Chief Constable of Glossop, was born at Clitheroe, in the county of Lancaster, on the 13th April, 1832. He was sent to work at an early age, and therefore had little elementary education. This was supplemented by instruction in the Sunday School, where "the three R's" at that time were occasionally but imperfectly taught. At the age of nineteen he was apprenticed (but not under indenture) to a calico machine printer, and served in that capacity for about three years, but having a strong desire to "hear guns and see a battle," he enlisted, in the year 1854, in the Royal Horse Artillery. When at the head quarters, at Woolwich, he was drafted from a squad of 18 recruits and sent to "A Troop," under Colonel Phill pots. Early in the year 1855 he was ordered out to the Crimea, and on the 18th June in that year was present at the first bombardment of Sebastopol, and at the subsequent attacks on the 7th and 8th of September following. He was also present on the 16th August, 1855, at the battle of the Tchernaya. After a little more than two years' service in the Royal Horse Artillery he was promoted, under Major Gardner, to the rank of sergeant in "D Troop," which was then located at Aldershot.


Leaving the Army with the rank of Sergeant, after a service of 3 years and 111 days, he entered the Manchester City Police Force, and subsequently the Liverpool City Police Force. He left the Liverpool Force in November, 1868, and returned to his trade of a calico machine printer. Owing, however, to the cotton famine, which commenced in the year 1852, and which proved so disastrous to the cotton industry throughout the cotton manufacturing districts, when the "busy hum of machinery was silenced" in the mills, he was compelled to seek employment elsewhere, and succeeded in joining the Rochdale Police Force, and afterwards the West Riding of Yorkshire Constabulary.


On January 18th, 1875, he received the appointment of Chief Constable of Glossop. At that time the Force numbered 16; now it has one Inspector, three Sergeants, one Detective, and 20 Constables. Nine members of the Force have successfully passed the St. John's Ambulance examinations.


A fellow town man of Mr. Hodgson sends us the following additional information :-
"'Oar excellent Chief,' as he is familiarly called, is of a fine build, and fills with dignity the important office he holds. By rich and poor alike he is greatly respected, and held in the highest esteem. In his men, to whom he is greatly attached, he takes a deep interest and studies their comfort and welfare, and on no account, if he can prevent it, will he allow them to be unfairly or badly treated. At the same time, he enforces strict discipline, and would deal severely with any whom he found to be untruthful. Mr. Hodgson and the members of the Force have on many occasions been sumptuously entertained by the leading magnates of the town. During Her Majesty's Jubilee year, Glossop was, perhaps, one of the most favoured towns, receiving very munificent gifts of a hospital, park, bath, and a public hall and library, costing, roughly, over £40,000. The laying of the foundation stones of the above buildings, and the opening of the park, was made the occasion for the largest demonstration that Glossop has ever known; the various religious and other bodies, Oddfellows, Foresters, Freemasons, and members of Friendly Societies, taking part with an enthusiasm that is unparalleled in the history of Glossop. At the head of the vast procession, mounted on horseback, was the Chief Constable, by whom the day's proceedings were directed and carried out with such tact and judgment as to meet with the warmest approbation. Although the town was thronged with people, who had come from distant places to witness the celebrations, a general holiday having been proclaimed; everything passed off smoothly, to the satisfaction of all interested, and not a single accident happened."


Mr. Hodgson is a P.M. of the Devonshire Lodge of Freemasons, No. 625 Glossop, and has also held the office of Prov. G. Standard Bearer in the province of Derbyshire. He is also a P.L. of the Devonshire Chapter of Royal Arch Freemasons, and holds the office of P.G.S.


(Mr. William H Hodgson was the Chief Constable of  Glossop  from 1875 to 1899).



Glossop Borough Police

Established 9 April 1867

1 April 1947 Became part of Derbyshire Constabulary



From Police Federation magazine, December, 1997

The world’s first car chase

First car chase, but where did it all start? In Northamptonshire in 1899, that's where, because the Northamptonshire County Constabulary was the first police force in the entire world to arrest a criminal after a car chase.


Excitement in the town had mounted for the visit of Barnum and Bailey's Circus to Northampton for the Easter weekend of 1899. Naturally, the advance publicity had whipped up a froth of expectation at seeing such wonders as Oguri Kiba, the Japanese armless maiden, and Wade Cochran, the child mental wonder. And it was to be expected that someone's criminal mind would take advantage.


Sure enough, a printer by the name of Frederick John Phillips, decided to put his professional talents to nefarious use. After printing some spurious "Barnum and Bailey Free Tickets", he sallied forth to make his fortune.


On April 27th, a Thursday, just two days before the circus was due at the weekend, Phillips visited three shops in what are now suburbs, but were then small villages on the very outskirts of Northampton. Each shop was kept by a woman, no doubt chosen deliberately, and in each one Phillips gave the same line of patter.


Posing as an advance publicity manager for Barnum and Bailey, he asked whether he could put a poster in the shop window, in return for which the lady shopkeeper would receive "free" tickets for the 3/0d seats. When the gullible ladies agreed, Phillips dished out his forged tickets, saying that he would bring the poster in the next day, but it was customary "just to give a small sum to cover expenses".


Amazingly, the three women all fell for this. Harriett Scott of Far Cotton gave him 1/0d, Agnes Cotton of Duston gave him 6d, and Jane Botterill of Dallington gave him another 6d.


With the money in his pocket, Phillips was soon on his way out of the area.


It was the complaint of Jane Botterill, who, realising that she had been duped, alerted Sergeant Hector MacLeod, of the Northamptonshire County Constabulary.


Hearing that the fleeing criminal had been seen leaving the town along the Weedon Road, Sergeant MacLeod then took the step that would put him into the history books.


Jack Harrison, who lived in Marefair in Northampton, was the proud owner of a new fangled Benz motor car, and Sergeant MacLeod commandeered both vehicle and owner, so that the criminal could be brought to justice.


Driving out of Northampton on the Weedon Road, Sergeant MacLeod and Mr Harrison pursued Phillips, finally catching up with him between Harpole and Flore. Phillips protested his innocence saying that he was employed by a Mr George of Barnum and Bailey's Circus. But Sergeant MacLeod had heard it all before, and Phillips was arrested and brought back to Northampton's Angel Lane police station.


The speed limit in 1899 was a highly exhilarating 12 miles per hour. And soon afterwards, when commenting on the chase, the Autocar magazine hoped that the speed limit had not been broken!


After two remands, Phillips finally appeared at the Northamptonshire Quarter Sessions on June 29th, 1899, where he pleaded guilty to obtaining 1/0d by false pretences from Harriett Scott. The other offences were taken into consideration.


Because of his previous good character, the presiding magistrates dealt with Phillips under the First Offenders Act. He was released into the custody of his father, who was bound over for £10 to ensure his son's good behaviour for 12 months.


And so Frederick Phillips had his 15 minutes of fame, which ensured that his name would never be forgotten. His captor also went onto greater things. Hector Donald Macleod eventually became the Deputy Chief Constable of Northamptonshire, retiring in the 1930s.


Today, every "cops and robbers" film invariably includes a thrilling car chase to heighten the excitement. And to think that the very first in the entire world happened in Northamptonshire, nearly 100 years ago!


An 1894 Benz 'Viktoria', similar to the one used in the First Cop Car Chase. Photo courtesy of The National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.



Culion Leper Colony Police

(Click on photograph to enlarge)


Culion Island is one of 41 islands in the Province of Palawan in the Philippines.  On May 27 1906 the American Government purchased the Islands from the Spanish, who had colonies in the Philippines, and rounded up 370 leper patients; by 1910 this number had risen to 5,303 people suffering from leprosy, making it the world’s largest leper colony.


The first missionary to the Culion Islands was the Rev Fr Maniel Volles, marking the beginning of the Jesuit movement to irradicate the terrible disease, helped by Sisters from the Order of Saint Paul of Chantres,  and in the process making the leper colony the leading centre for developing treatment to combat the disease. Finally, in 1998, the World Health Organisation, after extensive use of Multi-Drug Therapy  announced a definite cure for leprosy.


The island then ceased to be a leper colony and these beautiful islands are now a tourist destination with a population of 18,000 (census 2006) and a part of the Independent Republic of the Phillipines.


As the colony grew it organised itself into a community, with housing, school, piped water, theatre, government, court system and police force. All of the police officers were themselves sufferers of leprosy.


The badges were kindly sent to me by Sefrenie I Sayson, a member of the International Police Association.


John Downing



Poor children in Birmingham

My sister-in-law, now in her eighties, was brought up in Sparkbrook, Birmingham, in what she describes as a childhood deprived of everything but love. Her father suffered ill health as a result of service in the Royal Navy during the First World War, and was never able to work. Her mother slaved away day and night to raise three girls, dying before she was forty and leaving her eldest daughter to care for the younger sisters.


She says that each autumn at the start of the school year, she was taken to Digbeth Police Station, in Birmingham, where policemen issued brand new lace up shoes (which she hated) and new vest and pants to all the kids. She is fairly sure that this ritual continued until she went to secondary school, which would have coincided with the formation of the Welfare State.


This was years before we heard of Community Policing; does anyone know of this charitable work carried out by Birmingham City Police?

Peter Hinchliffe



Police boxes alive and well

The photo in the last magazine of the blue Police box made me sit up and think where I had last seen one. I have attached photos of two that I have found over the years. One is still in use in Glasgow, as a coffee shop. The other is outside Wetherby Police Station as a decoration. Both are in excellent condition on the exterior.

Alan Pickles



Photo gallery

(click on photograph to enlarge)

Caernvonshire Constabulary, Constable 34 Frank Preston. (Submitted by Ray Ricketts)

Cornwall Constabulary, Bodmin, Constable 14? Photograph dated June 1896. (Ray Ricketts)

Hampshire Constabulary, Constables Keith Attwood and David France rounding up a loose heifer from Basingstoke Cattle Market, late 1960s. (David France)

Metropolitan Police, 'A' Division, Constables 353A, 218A, 334A, 274A, 283A.  (Ray Ricketts)

Norfolk Constabulary, waterways patrol. (Ray Ricketts)

Devon Constabulary, Plymstock beating the bounds ceremony, 1951 (Derek Tait)

Send your photos to Jim  



Motor Patrol with Alan Matthews

Not what it seems

This magazine’s offering of pictures can all be taken with a pinch of salt in that although they are real cars and look like police cars that is the only resemblance. They are all replicas of one sort or another, and mostly were used in films or television.


1. This is a Wolseley 18/85 (I think) from a postwar film.

2. The 2nd picture is from a film and shows three Wolseley 6/80s tarted up to look like Met cars.

3. Another Met lookalike is this 6/90 featured in Carry on Constable.

4 & 5. Later Farina Wolseleys also from films.

6. Do you remember those close-up shots from Z cars when the cameraman seemed to be strapped to the side of the speeding Zephyr. This is the car in real life. Stationary with a rolling backdrop, and front end not very neatly cut off!

7. Heartbeat Morris LD van.

8. This Astra looks genuine but was done up for the drama City Central.

9. This Mk 2 escort was a star in the Sweeney.

And finally this Vivaro ended up in the scrap yard after being rolled in a recent John Simm drama.






Your news, views, stories, pictures from your collection.

Any item that you think will be of interest to other collectors.

Email either Norman or Jim



Humorous job!

Disqualified – givus a driving job!

In the mid 1970s I was a Driving Instructor at Merseyside Police Driving School.


I had a rest week free from instruction and was asked if I would go to the then HQ at Hardman Street in Liverpool  city centre to assess three applicants for the position of Civilian Van Driver.


There were three applicants for the two positions advertised, one male and two females.


Apart from my police qualifications as a driving instructor I held other certificates including a Ministry of Transport ADI Certificate. (Approved Driving Instructor).


Having decided to test the male first and before taking him out to drive round the city, I asked him for his driving licence and he told me that he had forgotten it but could bring it in the following day if that was acceptable to me. I paused before replying and he then winked at me and confided that he also held an ADI certificate which put him in the same league as me. I said ‘Oh an ADI?’ ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘you know, an Advanced Driving Instructor.’ !!!!!!!!!!


I said that was fine, arranged for him and the other applicants to have a cup of tea and immediately went up to the Criminal Record Office to check this man out, bearing in mind that Personnel were supposed to have carried out checks on the applicants.


He had a string of convictions for dishonesty, motoring offences, etc. What’s more, he was wanted on warrant for forging a driving licence and other offences.


Back with the man I told him it was time to commence the practical driving part of the interview and he was visibly excited at the prospect. We climbed into the Driving School car, an unmarked Ford Escort Mexico , which our friend thought he was going to drive. At this point I casually remarked that as we didn't have a van at HQ to test him on we would go and pick one up.


I drove to the imposing Main Bridewell, built 1860, and went inside with him. The Governor of the Bridewell, a Chief Inspector, was at the Charge Office counter and as he knew me passed the time of day and we chatted for a few minute before he asked me what he could do for me.


Explaining that the man accompanying me was an applicant for the job of civilian van driver he nodded, but was still wondering what I was doing in the Main Bridewell. It was a pleasure to see the look on his face when I announced that I was arresting our applicant because he was wanted on a warrant (which wasn't backed for bail) for offences including forgery of a driving licence.


Turned out he had never held a driving licence and was disqualified from driving.



Tony Roach



Finishing off with some humour from Pam's postcards . . . . . .


Next Magazine Friday 1st May 2015 (2030hrs)

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