First police uniform
Sir Robert Peel selected a uniform for the first London police force.
This uniform comprised a top hat, a high-collar uniform swallow tailed jacket with winter issue blue trousers and summer issue white trousers.
Equipment issued included a cutlass, an oil lamp, truncheon and a wooden rattle. Police officers were also firemen, so the rattle was used to call for assistance or to wake people up in burning buildings.
Also worn around the officer’s neck was a stiff leather band often thought to keep the officers head up, but which in fact was to stop the officer from being garrotted.
Mary Ball the last woman hung in Coventry
Coventry’s police museum is home to the death mask of a woman called Mary Ball who was hanged in Coventry in 1849.
Death masks were a permanent way of recording the features of corpses, for identification, before the use of photography.
Mary Ball was convicted of killing her husband by poisoning him with arsenic. However, it looks like the victim was far from innocent himself, as it is thought that he was a drunken womaniser who regularly beat his wife.
The gallows were set up in Cuckoo Lane, in the city centre for Mary Ball’s hanging and 20,000 people crowded around to watch.
She was the last person publicly hung in Coventry.
The first police helmet
In 1860 early officers had their top hat replaced by a police helmet of a design similar to that which is still worn today.
Slight variations in helmet design between forces were allowed. Helmets needed to be vented at the top to prevent excessive perspiration on the officer’s head, which was done by placing three holes on the top. The holes were covered by a small metal top known as a rose or a small chrome ball on top of the vented top or a raised ridge running from the back to the top known as a ‘cock’s comb’.
Helmets were not reinforced but were made of a strong card covered in felt. In the first few years some forces did not display a badge on the front of the helmet but by 1875 it was considered that a badge on the front looked smarter and more professional.
Heartbroken Henry Hung
A scorned Birmingham lover ended his life on the end of the hangman’s noose after a failed reconciliation attempt with his ex-girlfriend.
In 1884, 53 year old Henry Kimberley followed his former girlfriend, Mrs Harriet Steward to the White Hart Beer House in Paradise Street, Birmingham. She was staying there with her friend and wife of the publican, Mrs Emily Palmer... read more.
The Drunks Blacklist
Fire starter murder
The Old Hag
Fire Hero's Medal
Cheeky Chomper Caught
WPC Florence the female darts champ
The Final Whistle
Search for Police Headquarters
1974 - West Midlands Police is established
The 70’s police motorcycle that was a real ‘Saint’
The Triumph 750cc Saint earnt its name because it ‘Stops Anything In No Time!’ Although officers reported that it was a little more slippery in the wet.
This 1976 version had all the latest ‘mod cons’ including a mobile phone! – Although there was nothing more satisfying than the roar it made when speeding after criminals.
As part of our research for the force’s 40th anniversary last year, we were lucky enough to find some old footage of our very own Triumph Saints being taken for a test spin. The footage was silent but reminded us of a great TV programme from the 70s – Top Gear.
So we have taken the liberty of imagining just what Top Gear might had had to say about our little ‘Saints’ – we hope you like it.