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Calls for blue plaque tribute to first Brighton police chief
Community groups are uniting in a bid to install a permanent tribute to a murdered police chief.
Henry Solomon was appointed the first chief constable of Brighton in 1838 – the first Jewish person in the country to be appointed to that prominent role.
However, six years later he was murdered in Brighton Town Hall after being hit on the head when interviewing a man caught stealing carpet.
Sussex Police and leading members of the Jewish community are now working together to raise the money to install a blue plaque on the side of the historic building.
Averil Older, of the Brighton and Hove Commemorative Plaque Panel, which oversees the scheme, said she hoped it could be unveiled this year.
Ms Older said: “He was a very popular man and his death came as a great shock to the whole town.
“Thousands of people lined the streets for his funeral.”
Mr Solomon’s ghost reportedly still haunts the old police cells under Brighton Town Hall.
Conservative councillor Graham Cox, who was a former police chief superintendent and head of Sussex CID, said: “I enjoy reading the various blue plaques around Brighton and Hove but it has to be said some of them recognise some rather tenuous connections with the town.
“It is surely the time for our modern city to formally recognise the service of Henry Solomon with a plaque, where he died in the course of serving the citizens of Brighton.”
The news comes as English Heritage announced its national blue plaque scheme is under threat due to funding cuts.
But Ms Older said it did not affect the city as it administers its own scheme.
She added that Brighton and Hove City Council provided funding every year to install one new blue plaque at a cost of about £1,100.
However, anyone was welcome to approach the panel and discuss making a donation towards installing additional ones.
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Who was Henry Solomon?
Henry Solomon was appointed the first chief constable of Brighton in 1838, on an annual salary of £120.
In those days all civic offices including the police were in Brighton Town Hall in Bartholomews.
In 1844, a man called John Lawrence was arrested for stealing a carpet from a shop in St James’s Street.
He was taken to the town hall where Mr Solomon tried to question him. After being sat down near a fire, Lawrence suddenly shot up and smashed Mr Solomon’s skull with an iron poker so hard it bent the metal rod.
The chief constable, who was 50, died later and Lawrence was charged with murder. He was tried at Lewes, convicted and hanged outside the county gaol in Horsham. The incident shocked the town and a public meeting to collect money for the support of the bereaved raised more than £1,000.
The memorial stone to the popular bobby is in the Old Jewish Burial Ground in Florence Place, Brighton.
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