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Tynemouth Borough Police Remembered

Policing became a varied exercise as the population grew

On Monday, March 31st 1969, the demise of The County Borough of Tynemouth Police took place.  It had existed for 119 eventful years.

Prior to 1850, policing had been a rather haphazard affair, a dozen or so Constables patrolled the quayside and town areas of North Shields, but organisation and discipline were noticeably lacking and seemingly those business owners of means received some protection, but others had to fend for themselves!  Areas such as Tynemouth, Cullercoats, Preston, East Howdon, Chirton and Percy Main had no official protection other than the occasional Parish Constable who was controlled by Churchwardens and Justices of the Peace.

In 1849 however, by virtue of the Municipal Corporations Act, Tynemouth became a County Borough and was thus obliged to form an organised police force.  On the 1st January 1850, the County Borough of Tynemouth Police was formed with a nucleus of 12 men, which over the years, because of expanding industry and population became 160 men and women.

Because of the geographical and industrial nature of the Borough, policing became a varied exercise, ranging from supervising a plethora of visitors to the beaches on a gentle summer’s day to violent drunken battles on the riverfront and in the town centre when the public houses closed.

The badge worn by Tynemouth Officers was derived from the Borough Coat of Arms, representing Sailing, Fishing, Coalmining and Agriculture with the appropriate motto “Messis ab Altis” supporting a shield containing three coronets representative of the three Kings buried in the Priory grounds.  The motto can be translated effectively to “Harvest from the Deeps”.

On Sunday, 30th March 1969, two days before the amalgamation of Tynemouth Police with Newcastle City Police and Northumberland County Constabulary to form Northumberland Constabulary (the second amalgamation forming Northumbria Police took place in 1974), the entire Tynemouth Force gathered at the then Military Road Drill Hall for a series of photographs.  One includes the entire force, and the one depicted here shows the gentlemen of the CID!


Photograph of Tynemouth Borough Police

They are from left to right, back row: Detective Constables E Young, G Russell, J Borrow, B Makepeace, R Gallagher, J Robinson, W McGregor.  Centre row: K Latimer, M Lamont, S Heddon, W Keady, P O’ Brien, J Stevens, J Arnold.  Front row: Detective Sergeants W Gordon, K Steele, F Smith, R Rutherford, Detective Chief Inspector J Nesbitt, Detective Sergeants W Wilkinson, K Banks and A Edwards.

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