Hampshire Constabulary, History Part 2

Charge Book

Early Charge Book

Captain Fellowes, was tragically fatally injured as a result of his brave action in attempting to stop a runaway horse in October 1893 outside police headquarters and was succeeded as chief constable by Major St. Andrew Bruce Warde, whose term of office was to equal in length that of Captain Forrest.


Regardless of this change of leadership, the work of the force went on ceaselessly. In 1893 thirty Hampshire officers were sent to help the Nottinghamshire police to suppress the riots taking place in that area in connection with the coal strike.

Major Warde was to remain chief constable until 1928 and to preside over the force throughout the tumultuous opening decades of the twentieth century, including the portentous years of the First World War. The arrival of motorised transport on a large scale, the impact on everyday life of modern warfare, the changes inherent in an increasingly complex and mobile society -all these created problems with which inevitably the police had to contend. It is a truism that all periods are periods of change.

Yet seldom in British society have there been such broad and deep changes as occurred during this time. Between the 1890s and the 1920s stretches a tremendous quagmire of technical advance, social dislocation, and armed violence.

In 1898 a so-called “Gipsy Diary” was issued to each sergeant in charge of a sub-division, and also to the appropriate sergeant at the divisional station, in order that a careful record might be kept of the gypsies in each district. On the basis of statistics supplied by the constables on the beat, numbers and other relevant particulars were to be noted.

In the last decade of the nineteenth century some details of police work were changing. The task of inspecting weights and measures, which had been a continual preoccupation of the force, apparently ceased in 1891 with the appointment of inspectors of weights and measures.

In June 1899 First-Class Constable Jennings was commended for his prompt action in a case of larceny at Meonstoke. He had traced the two men suspected on his bicycle, and had arrested them at Guildford with the stolen property in their possession.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the population of Hampshire was over 400,000 occupying a total acreage not far short of one million.

The humble bicycle remained an increasingly important tool of everyday police work. Indeed, on the eve of his retirement in 1906, Mr. Sillence, the deputy chief constable, who had witnessed the intro duction of the bicycle into the force, expressed the opinion that “in my humble judgment it is the very best thing that could ever have been intro duced. Bicycles have been of the greatest service”.

The telephone came ever more into use in these opening years of the twentieth century. In 1906 the police stations at Fleet, Romsey and Emsworth were connected with the National Tele phone Company, and had the numbers of 8. 9 and 10 respectively.

At the end of 1929 the authorised strength of the force, other than the chief constable, consisted of one assistant chief constable, ten super intendents, nine inspectors, one sergeant-major, fifty-six sergeants and 432 constables. In April 1931 the Home Secretary approved the strength of the force being increased to 530. Further increases took place in 1936 and 1939, until at the outbreak of war the Hampshire Constabulary numbered 635.

It was only in 1929 that the first motor vehicle was provided for the Isle of Wight Constabulary, in the shape of a B.S.A. twin motor-cycle combination which was used on motor patrol and other duties.

In WW2 the heavy air raids on southern England in 1940 and 1941 gave only too many opportunities for police officers to distinguish themselves by their alacrity and courage. In May 1941, for example, the chief constable announced with pleasure that the King had approved the award of the British Empire Medal, Civil Division, to Inspector I. McDonagh “for his initiative in arranging mutual aid for fire fighting and entering burning buildings at considerable risk to himself, during intensive bombing, at Gosport on the night of January 10/11th, 1941.

The war was over but life was still very straitened in Great Britain. Food and clothing were still subject to rationing, and were to remain so for some years to come. The economy, indeed the whole of society, had been strained and dislocated in the course of the war, and it was inevitable that there should be a questioning of all sorts of existing arrangements, and an urge for change and reorganisation.

Thus the Police Act of 1946 opened the way to a series of post-war amalgamations of police forces. In consequence the wartime merger of the Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Winchester forces was made permanent in 1947. The new formation was named at first the Hampshire Constabulary, and later was given the title of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary.

An important post-war development in the Hampshire Constabulary was the establishment of a Traffic and Communications Department at Headquarters. This was made necessary by the growing weight and complexity of motor traffic. Twentieth-century society is highly mobile and mechanical, and the police service has had to adapt its methods and equipment accordingly.

After the war such boy clerks, who had first been appointed early in 1939, were to be replaced by police cadets. At first the cadets had no proper uniform, and worked a forty-eight hour week. There was no organised training for them, as such, and if they attended appropriate evening classes they did so in their own time at their own expense.

The vehicle establishment increased steadily, and in doing so kept pace with the ever-growing volume of traffic throughout the county. At the end of 1957, the force possessed a total of 105 vehicles, consisting of thirty-one patrol cars, thirty section vehicles, ten C.I.D. vehicles, eleven vans and twenty-three motor-cycles,


By December 1960 the total was 134, by December 1963 it had leaped to 177, and by 1965 it was 254, consisting of thirty-three patrol cars, sixty-six section vehicles, thirty-seven C.I.D. cars, twenty-four vans and ninety-four motor-cycles.

On the eve of amalgamation the total vehicle strength was 281, and this figure included thirty-thee patrol cars and forty-four motor-cycles belonging to the Traffic Division; in addition the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Con stabulary disposed of sixty-six section vehicles for general purposes, twenty-six goods vehicles, among which were some earmarked for specialist activities, thirty-eight C.I.D. vehicles, mostly Minis, fifty-three light motor cycles and twenty-one scooters.


The force had come a long way from the superintendent’s horse and cart.