[Subsequent comments from helpful souls on Twitter suggest that my original tentative identification of these uniforms as City of London police is not right – see update II below – I’m hugely grateful. Any further info v gratefully received.]
Finding the things that others have tucked and forgotten between the leaves of old books is one of the joys of a secondhand bookseller. This afternoon I came across these two intriguing pictures which had been slipped inside a 1901 US edition of George Ade’s Forty Modern Fables.
The pictures have been roughly clipped from an old printed newsletter or newspaper and are about the size of a modern passport photos. They appear to show the same policeman, sporting an majesterial mustache, but some time apart as in the second picture he has acquired a sergeant’s stripes – and perhaps a little sergeant’s spread as well. I think these are the uniforms that would have been worn by policemen in the City of London in about the 1890s. The date at least is consistent with the printing style and paper quality. On the back of the clippings is a part of a printed story about a heroic police officer who seems to have rescued a woman who had ‘slipped down under the footboard of an oncoming excursion train at Baghill Station, Pontefract’, in 1897. ‘The [sergeant] threw himself down on the platform a great personal risk’. Unfortunately there’s only a small part of the story on the reverse of the clipping, so we don’t know if the woman or the officer survived; and there’s no way to tell if the story relates to the fellow in the photos at all. (See updates below.)
Do you know who this is? Is he part of your family history? Did you forget that the photos were tucked in the book when you gave it away? If so, do get in touch as I’d love to reunited the photos with their owners or the police officer’s family. I bought the book second hand in January 2016 in Wimbledon, South West London.
Update (13 February 2016)
I have just found this account of a police officer receiving an award in the Church Weekly from London from July 1898, which seems to relate to the same incident at Baghill Station.
Thomas Whincup (Superintendent, West Riding Constabulary, Pontefract), bronze medal awarded for conspicuous presence of mind displayed on July 15, 1897, in rescuing a woman who had slipped down under the footboard of an incoming excursion train at Baghill Station, Pontefract. The superintendent threw himself down on the platform, and, at great personal risk, held the woman clear of the rails till the train stopped. He was severely bruised by the passing train.
It would seem then that the story does not relate to the photos at all as Thomas Whincup belonged to the West Riding Constabulary, not the City of London police force.
Update II (15 February 2016)
Subsequent comments from Twitter pals suggests that I was wrong to think these are City of London Police uniforms – based on the shape of helmets and badges. Pertinent tweets embedded below.