Skip to main content

Bikes, Bikes, Bikes...

In the early days of the Dorset Police Force, the arrival of the bicycle made quite a difference to the working life of the average copper. To perform his constabulary duties, he would have to walk many, many miles every day. This was the case particularly when he had to accompany a prisoner part or all the way to Dorchester Jail.

The County Force issued its first bicycle to the Dorchester Division in 1894. It had solid tyres and cost eight pounds & ten shillings (£8.50). The next year another six were bought for other Divisions. Then in 1896, officers were paid an annual allowance of three pounds to use their own machine. By then it was reckoned that half of Dorset’s constables could ride a bike.

Wary of the safety hazards of the new machine, Chief Constable Captain Amyatt Brown insisted strict compliance with the following regulation.

‘Upon overtaking any cart or carriage, horse, mule or other beast of burden or any foot passenger every such person shall within reasonable distance from and before passing, sound a whistle or bell or give other audible and sufficient warning of their approach.’

Chief Constable Brown even suggested that officers should patrol the roads in plain clothes to espy cyclists who came up to others without warning.

(Source: Bobbies on the Beat by Melvin Hann & Policing Victorian Dorset by Maurice Hann.)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

True Lovers Knot - a Tragic Tale

True Lovers Knot public house describes itself as a traditional  inn set in a picturesque Dorset valley in Tarrant Keynston. Yet, this historical hostelry is said to have gained its name from a particularly tragic tale and still to be haunted by a distressed former publican. This publican’s son met and fell in love with the daughter of the local squire. Because the young lad was not from the gentry they decided to keep their relationship secret from her father. Unfortunately, a stable hand saw the two young lovers together and told her father. Set firmly against this friendship the squire made plans to send his daughter away from the district. Not able to face up to life without her boyfriend, the young girl decided to commit suicide and hanged herself from a tree in the village. So upset was the publican’s son of hearing of his girlfriend’s death he too hanged himself from the same tree. The Tarrant Keynston publican had, himself lost his wife at child birth and now losing his son b

Chimney Sweep Tragedy

Crown Hotel, Blandford is reckoned to be one of Dorset’s oldest hostelries. Yet its most tragic day, during a long history, must surely be when a young chimney sweep lost his life. The chimney sweep, who was just a child, suffocated and was burnt to death in a Crown Hotel chimney which had been alight a little while before. ‘His cries were dreadful and no-one could give assistance. Part of the chimney was taken down before he was got out.’ (Salisbury & Winchester Gazette 27th March 1780) The lad had gone up one chimney and attempting to go down another had become stuck. At the time children were used to climb up chimneys to clean out soot deposits. With hands and knees, they would shimmy up narrow dark flue spaces packed thick with soot and debris. After the 1731 Great Fire of Blandford it was realised that it was important to sweep chimneys regularly while many rebuilt houses had narrower ones. Smaller chimneys and complicated flues were a potential death trap for children. The sw

Tarrant Rushton's Nuclear Secret

Tarrant Rushton was a large RAF base used for glider operations during World War II. It was then taken over by Flight Refuelling for the conversion of aircraft for the development of aircraft in-flight refuelling. However, between 1958 & 1965, the Tarrant Rushton airfield had a much more secretive and less publicised role. This was in support of the nation’s nuclear bomber deterrent, as Tarrant Rushton airfield became a QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) dispersal unit.   During 1958, contractors Costain reinforced the main runway and carried out other work to ensure the giant bomber aircraft could be accommodated. At times just a few miles from Blandford, there would have been up to four RAF Vickers Valiant bombers at Tarrant Rushton ready to become airborne in minutes charged with nuclear weapons. The bombers were from 148 Squadron at RAF Marham in Norfolk. As there was no suitable accommodation at the airfield, an old US Air Force Hospital building at Martin was used. At the time, the