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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.)


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