The Moorlands Police in Victorian Times

The Bednall Archive 

Last updated 04/05/2004

A Letter to the Editor The Leek Post & Times, 7 August 1995


Dear Editor,

I found Alf Robbins memories of policing in the Moorlands 60 years ago very interesting (Letters to the Editor, Leek Post and Times, August 2,). They reminded me of some  hand written, police notes,  concerning District B, Leek Division of an even earlier date -1897- which I found recently on the back some old  documents. It would be interesting to know whether certain aspects of policing changed very much between that date and the times recalled by Alf Robbins and  perhaps he, and other readers, could provide the answer.


The notes, which are mainly for November and December 1897, are from Sergeant Thomas Peake of Longnor Station and various "Police Constables 1st Class" -John Henry Barrow of Oakmoor Station, John Smith of Warslow Station, Henry Clamp of Endon Station, Thomas Rowley of Cheddleton Station, David Dick of Rushton Station, Thomas Bailey of Blythe Bridge Station, George Gunn of Flash Station and Thomas Dale of Wetton Station- to "Captain The Honble Geo. A. Anson, Chief Constable". All are initialled by  E. W. Breton who is listed in Kelly's 1892 Directory of Leek as " County Police Station, Leonard Street, Eliab William Breton, superintendent; 2 sergeants  & 8 constables."


Conference Points were places where constables routinely had to meet other constables as they patrolled their  beats with any absences being reported to the Chief Constable by the one who "attended" and excuses provided by the one who didn't.   The Flash and Rushton constables, for example, met at Swythamley Park Farm Yard and the Wetton and Longnor PCs at Hulme End Bridge.


All the reports state either that constables had failed to attend a "Conference Point" or give a constable's  reason for not attending a Conference Point. On the 9th November 1897, for example,  Henry Clamp, the Endon P.C. reported that the Cheddleton P.C. had not attended the Lime Kiln, Wall Grange and Pearson House Conference Points. The constable who failed to turn up was PC Thomas Rowley who later explained that  he "omitted the 1 o'clock Conference point on the 8th November" because of "attending the Ambulance Class at Leek it being 11 pm before I got back to Cheddleton."


The same night John Barrow reported that "I did not attend the   Conference Points at the Green Man, Windy Arbour and Three Towes Cross Roads in consequence of being on duty at Cotton the whole day there being an Annual  Cattle Fair   held at the Star Inn and a number of strange people there." 

Others missed "Conference Points" for the usual reasons. One P.C. had  "a very bad cold on my chest" - which forced him to "remain about the village until public houses had closed," and David Dick's very good excuse for missing the Biddulph Moor Cross Roads appointment was that he had been "at the Petty Sessions in Leek at the time". Preventing a breach of the peace was the reason  why PC Dorman  missed his Hulme End meeting on the 12th December for he was on duty at Longnor awaiting a "disturbance at the house of Thomas Smith who had gone into Shropshire to get married." Thomas Smith's brother George apparently had a claim on some furniture in his brother's house and threatened to break in to get it. !.


Evidently after meeting at the Conference Points the P.Cs would patrol together at least for a short period for  on the 10th of November P.C. Tom Bailey reported that  when he got to the meeting point at "Painsley Hall Cart Shed" he  "waited 30 minutes patrolled the route alone to the  5 am. parting point Coneygrave Cottage" where he met Sergeant Robotham  -"the Tean PC was absent from both points".


Mr Robbins mentions the cycle patrols of the 1930s but were the 1897 patrols carried out in the same way?

Yours sincerely,

ŠA. W. Bednall