Policing Winchester 175 years 1832 – 1943

Past Times (Frontline no. 131)

Clifford Williams

Thanks go to Mrs Marjorie Parsonage of Wadebridge, Cornwall, for sending in the accompanying photograph, which shows the Winchester City Police on the eve of joining the County Force. Marjorie’s husband, Charles Parsonage, dealt with weights and measures in the Winchester Force and was a sergeant when the force merged with Hampshire. Charles retired as an inspector and then took a teaching post in Aldershot. He is shown fifth from left in the front row.

The photograph includes some of the war reserves and Women Auxiliary Police Corps (WAPC). The head constable was Mr HR Miles. A number of those who joined Hampshire progressed to the rank of superintendent, including Ben King (front row, third from left), Owen Toms (front row, second from right) and Lionel Bowen (believed to be back row, sixth from right), who retired as chief superintendent. I thank retired officer John Snook for this information.

Winchester has seen organised ‘modern’ policing longer than any other part of the constabulary.


The Winchester City Police Force was established 175 years ago following a meeting at Winchester Guildhall on May 24, 1832, four years before police forces were established in Southampton, Portsmouth, Andover, Lymington, Basingstoke and Romsey. The Hampshire Constabulary followed in 1839.


When first established, Winchester City Police had eight officers, with Robert Buchanan as inspector on a weekly salary of £1. Seven police constables were appointed in July of that year, namely: James Finch, Thomas Ellery, William Shedman, William Masters, William Scorey, Thomas Leach and John Browning.

In 1833, a superintendent was appointed – William Shepperd, a ‘transferee’ from the Metropolitan Police. By that time, only three of the original seven constables were serving. Turnover of constables was high in those days.

Guildhall and police station opened in 1875

Winchester City continued as a separate police force right up until April 1943, when the economies and ‘rationalisation’ brought about by the war led to it merging with Hampshire Constabulary. In 1943, the ratio of police to public was 38 officers policing a population of 23,523. (In 2003, Winchester had a population of 38,500, policed by 65 officers.)


The Broadway, Winchester

The Broadway, Winchester

Phoo courtesy of Hampshire Cam


Old Entrance to Public Enquiry Office

New North Walls police station


North Walls polcie station

North Walls police station

When first opened this station was used as a temporary police headquarters for Hampshire, whilst new HQ was being built at West Hill.