Hampshire Police 20th Century Timeline

Dates of significant local, national & world events 


1901 Population dramatically increased to 30.8 million but only about 20% now live in rural areas. 10 year national census – results now on the web at the Public Record Office
1901 Queen Victoria dies and is succeeded by Edward VII

1902 The treadmill is abolished in prisons photo (bit like being made to ride an exercise bike for 6 hours a day) and fingerprinting introduced

1903 The Meon Valley railway line opens between Alton and Fareham. It finally closed in 1968 due to competition from rising car ownership and the modern diesel lorry. Big mistake closing it, although no one could foresee that the demand for train transport would increase twenty years later).

1903 The campaign for women’s suffrage was intensified by the founding of the Women’s Social and Political Union. The WSPU, associated particularly with Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters, Christabel and Sylvia, was far more militant than the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, led by Milicent Garrett Fawcett. (source: BBC History)

1904 Cosham and Farlington join Portsmouth Borough Police

1904 Southampton: New police station and court built in ‘mock tudor’ design, next to Bargate on west side – demolished in 1930 to make way for road around Bargate.

1906 After a General Election victory, the Liberals began a series of ambitious social reforms such as medical examinations for school children, free meals for the poorest students and a programme for slum clearance. Other reforms involved the setting up of Labour exchanges and the introduction of a basic old age pension scheme. (source: BBC History)

1907 New Chief Constable of Portsmouth is Thomas Davies who served for 33 years in the post!

1908 Winchester ‘Russian Gun’ or the’ Dumper’ riots


1910 Accession of King George V

1912 Southampton: RMS Titanic on maiden voyage, sinks after colliding with an iceberg

1914 Andover Riots

1915 Outbreak of First World War. British Army is woefully under strength compared to other European nations

1917 School leaving age raised to 14 to stop young children being sent out to work

1918 War ends – over 5 million men are now serving in British Army

1919 IRA founded

1919 Third Afghan War

1919 Police Act allows for establishment of The Police Federation after a ‘police strike’


1920 Topliss murder at Andover

1920 Southampton: Borough force now police Bitterne, Sholing, Woolston

1922 Ryde Borough Police merge with Isle of Wight County Constabulary

1926 Portsmouth force now have ‘City Police’ status Chief Constable is John Thomas McCormac until 1940

1928 The new Chief Constable of Hampshire is Major Ernest Radcliffe Cockburn
1929 Hampshire – first police motor vehicle introduce, a BSA motorcycle combination


1931 First Highway Code and Road Traffic Act introduces third party insurance etc.

1936 George V dies and is succeeded by Edward VIII who abdicates within the year. PC Goronwy Evans joins Portsmouth City Police and Fire Service

1937 Coronation of George VI

1939 Outbreak of Second World War. Young police officers leave to join the armed services who are woefully lacking in modern equipment.


1940 New Chief Constable of Portsmouth City is Arthur Charles West until 1958

1941 Portsmouth City Police Choir formed. Central Police Station bombed along with the Guildhall

1941 New Chief Constable of Southampton is F. T. Tarry CB, CBE

1942 Winchester City Police and Isle of Wight Constabulary amalgamate with Hampshire to form the Hampshire Joint Police Force until 1948. The new Chief Constable is Richard Dawnay Lemon

1944 D-Day 6th June Thousands of Allied soldiers, who have been camped for months in the woods and forests of Hampshire, depart from the beaches at places like Gosport, to invade France via Normandy. The invasion HQ is at Southwick, near Portsmouth.

1947 New Chief Constable of Southampton is Charles George Box

1947 Labour government introduce National Health Service. Previously medical treatment or visits to the doctor had to be paid for. People would contribute to health ‘Societies’ that paid out in event of sickness.
1948 Bournemouth Borough Police formed, separate from now – ‘Hampshire Constabulary’


1951 Wartime petrol rationing ends. British car manufactures have to export their output to earn much needed foreign exchange.

1952 – 1966 new name – Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary. UK population is about 50 million and there are 3 million cars on the roads.

1952 New Police Station opened at Lymington

1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

1956 Death on duty of PC Jim Dolan at Weyhill

1959 M1 Motorway opened between Watford and Crick. There is no maximum speed limit but most family cars would struggle then to cruise at 70 mph. The first motorway was opened a year earlier – the Preston By Pass now part of the M6.

During this decade the favourite Hampshire section car was the Hillman Husky. A two door estate car that was a well built reliable workhorse. Traffic were issued with the Austin 110, with six cylinder 2912 cc, 120 bhp engine.


1962 New Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary – Douglas Osmond

1964 New Havant Police Station opened

1965 December, 70 m.p.h. speed limit imposed on UK motorways as an experiment after a series of multiple accidents in fog (there weren’t many motorways then anyway). Previously there was no limit and there was a much publicized incident when a motor sports racing manufacturer started to test their car on the M1 reaching a top speed of 190 m.p.h.

This helped make the limit permanent! The Jaguar E-Type had been introduced in 1961 and the basic 3.8 model was capable of an unheard of 150 m.p.h.
1965 Abolition of Death Penalty – 3 yr. trial period begins. Introduction of teleprinters in police stations at about this time made the transmission of internal messages more efficient, instead of station officers writing them out by hand.

1965 The height of the Cold War and the government introduce Police Mobile Columns intended to go into devastated areas in the event of a nuclear attack.

1966 Southampton force now titled ‘City Police’

1966 Replacement Headquarters building opened at West Hill, Winchester. Old Winchester City police station at the Guildhall closes and moves to North Walls police station which had been temporarily occupied by Chief Constable and HQ staff. This was while old HQ was demolished at West Hill and new one built

1967 Hampshire Constabulary formed from the amalgamation of Hampshire, Southampton & Portsmouth Police forces on 1st April

1967 Introduction of the breathalyser – Powerful new drink drive law has been introduced allowing blood or urine samples to be used to determine amount of alcohol in drivers body instead of prosecution only being able to use evidence of driver’s physical condition to convict.

The breathalyser was a disposable crystal filled glass tube that had to have the ends snapped off before a mouthpiece and a bag were fitted. Cheap device, no batteries but a fiddle to use. Change in colour of the crystals indicated excess alcohol.

1967 Also this year the fitting of seat belts to the front seats of passenger cars become compulsory but not the wearing, that didn’t come until 1983! Traffic cars had been fitted with simple diagonal belts before this. These early belts were not user friendly with no inertia reel device.
1969 Apollo Moon landing


1970 Isle of Wight Pop Festival – when half a million fans attended a five day event at Afton Down and saw Jimi Hendrix’s last UK appearance. He died shortly afterwards.

1971 M3 opens but there is no M25 yet.

1972 IRA terrorist bomb detonated at the Para barracks at Aldershot – February 22

1972 Alton by-pass opens. Alton was one of the many traffic bottle-necks in Hampshire in the 1960’s, along with places like Petersfield, Emsworth, Southwick, Swaythling. Car ownership expanded rapidly during this decade and the old road network was not built to cope with this increase in traffic.

People still had holidays at ‘home’ and queued for hours to get from London to the south coast every summer weekend. This made life difficult for local residents and required police to do traffic control to speed the flow. Try and imagine for one minute a cross county journey with no M3, M27, M275, M271 or A3(M)!

1974 Police National Computer operational. Major improvement in police efficiency as previously vehicle registration records were kept by County or County Borough Councils, requiring officers trying to trace car owners, to telephone individual councils where vehicle was registered to obtain owners details. Night time, in emergencies, police officers would have access to search the council records or had to call out an official.

1977 September, new Chief Constable is John Duke, CBE, QPM


1982 A hastily assembled Task Force sets sail from Southampton and Portsmouth to recapture the Falkland Islands from the invading Argentineans. Over 200 British servicemen were ‘Killed in Action’ during the conflict.

1983 Wearing front seat belts in cars made compulsory – for a trial period

1984 – 85 Year long National Miners’ Strike saw dozens of Hampshire officers travelling (by coach or plane) to Nottinghamshire and other mining areas each week, for Public Order duties.

1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act. This Act brought about the most far reaching changes to the way the modern Police Service goes about its daily duties. Previously, for instance, suspects were interviewed, charged and only when bailed or about to appear in court were they able to consult with a solicitor. The statutory right to have someone notified of your arrest became was introduced although this had been done for some time previously.

1987 The Great Storm of 15th October. Read a report about it and a night duty to remember at Southsea.

1988 September, new Chief Constable is Sir John Hoddinott CBE.


1990 This decade saw the first installation of a network of desktop computers in Hampshire police stations. That was the good news – the bad news was that it was a system called ‘Uniplex.’ In this same year the World Wide Web was born. In the same year the cover of the Spring edition of ‘Copperplate’ featured the ill-fated Optica-Scout police spotter plane flying over the Needles.

1991 The Census showed that the Resident Population of Hampshire on Census night was 1,541,547 an increase of (4.2 %) since the 1981 Census. 1.1 % of the increase was due to net in migration; the remainder resulted from the number of births exceeding deaths.

1991 the density of the population (i.e. number of people per hectare) was 4.1. Portsmouth City had the highest density (41.6) whilst the lowest density was in Winchester District (1.5). The provisional 1991 figure for England & Wales as a whole is 3.2 persons per hectare. Source – Hantsweb

1997 Sunday, 31st August, Diana, Princess of Wales, is killed in a car accident n Paris.

1996 Police Act 1996.

1999 Paul Kernaghan takes over as the Chief Constable of Hampshire – September 21. UK population is about 59 million. See 


Some of the dates above come from a book,
“A History of the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary 1839 – 1966”
compiled by Ian A. Watt 1967
Culverlands Press Ltd., Winchester