A nostalgic look back through Sussex Police records

These days you would probably be perplexed to see a police officer bearing a cutlass.

But images uncovered by the force reveal they were part of Sussex Police’s first uniform – if you sought permission.

Carl Schalck, who works in the force’s communications department, has worked hard to scan in and upload photos to Sussex Police’s Facebook page, with the dream of eventually building up a full archive of policing in the county through the ages.

He told The Argus how an image of PC Edward Dive, a Barcombe officer from 1861 to 1871, demonstrated what the force’s early uni- form was like.

He said: “It followed the early pattern and numerals were displayed at the front of the top hat.

“Constables were permitted to carry cutlasses, but only if they could convince a Justice of the Peace that their beat was especially dangerous.

“PC Dive served from 1852 to 1873, when he retired on a pension of £31.4 shillings per annum.”

Other images showed horses being ridden on duty. Sussex Police no longer has a mounted section but in 1911 in Hove the animals were used to patrol a Brighton-Aston Villa charity shield.

The horses, known as “the Mounties”, also patrolled Kingsway to “prevent excessive driving of motor cars and omnibuses”.

One picture from 1934 showed seafront officers in “distinctive straw helmets”.

Mr Schalck said they were a source of amusement.

“These were worn during the summer months between 1918 and 1937, but unfortunately were prone to collapsing in heavy rain, leading to a number of unrepeatable nicknames being given by tourists, ” he admitted.

Many of the images Sussex Police have found in old files and books date from the two world wars. In July 1939 officers were called to help when an RAF plane crashed in Rottingdean.

Mr Schalck said: “Despite the young pilot’s disastrous start, he later earned further press coverage in the subsequent war for shooting down enemy aircraft.”

He told how during the Second World War there were 56 air raids on Brighton and 381 high explosive bombs were dropped, resulting in 200 properties being destroyed.

A total of 198 people were killed and 357 seriously injured. In 1942, 248 Special Constables were regularly employed on duty with an aver- age of 70 officers on duty each evening.

One picture uncovered showed police and other services dealing with a bomb in a block of flats off Lewes Road, Brighton. Eight West Sussex officers lost their lives during the Second World War.

Sussex Police has a picture of Sergeant William James Avis who died during the course of his work.

Mr Schalck said: “On February 26, 1942, he was called to an empty house at Aldwick, Bognor, where it was believed an army deserter was hiding.

“He entered the house and was confronted by the deserter, who pointed a pistol at him.

“Sergeant Avis tackled the gunman but was shot through the head.”

The photographs also depict the lighter side of life in the force.

One shows members of the East Sussex Constabulary cycling in Lewes in the 1880s – they were among the first in the county issued with bicycles in the 1880s for the “rapid pursuit” of “suspected persons”.

There are also images of the stocks in Chich- ester Corporation in 1828 – built so they could be easily moved by hand for use in any parish.

Mr Schalck said: “Offenders for drunkenness frequently preferred to pay a five shillings fine rather than be ridiculed in the stocks.

“Their last recorded use was in April 1852, when Henry ‘Shadow’ Mason was charged with being drunk and disorderly and was placed in the stocks at the City Cross for two hours.”

Comments (1)

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3:26pm Sun 2 Feb 14

getThisCoalitionOut says...

Nice to do an article on this but without one single photo - why?
Nice to do an article on this but without one single photo - why? getThisCoalitionOut

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