History of Cheshire Constabulary

In the autumn of 1856, the Court of Quarter Sessions set up a special committee of Justices to advise on the application of the County and Borough Police Act 1856.

The Justices were now obliged to establish a paid police force for the whole of each county.

The first full Cheshire Police committee met at the Crewe Arms Hotel, Crewe, on 3rd February 1857 under the chairmanship of Mr. Trafford Trafford.

The first Chief Constable was Captain Thomas Jonnes Smith. Cheshire Constabulary was officially formed on 20th April 1857.

Headquarters - from Chester to Winsford

1857: Cheshire Constabulary’s first headquarters were established at 4 Seller Street, Chester

1862: Headquarters moves to 1 Egerton Street, Chester

1870: Headquarters moves to 113 Foregate Street, Chester

1893: A new headquarters was built at 142 Foregate Street, Chester, on the site of an 11th century Benedictine Nunnery

1967: A new headquarters was built on Nuns Road, Chester (built between 1964 and 1967)

2003: Bigger premises were needed, with a purpose-built building at Clemonds Hey, Winsford.

Key points in Cheshire Constabulary’s history

1934-35 - A.F.Horden - Captain

Chief A.F.Horden1934 - The first Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was set up at HQ.

1934 - Radios introduced to allow officers to communicate whilst on duty.

1935Police driving school opened at Hendon

Cheshire driving instructors were trained at Hendon before the opening of the Cheshire school.

The Chief expanded the photographic department, spending £120 on new equipment and established a processing department in an outbuilding at Hartford. Four receiving and transmitting sets purchased for patrol cars, in addition to a small wireless van.

1935 - Express Message

The Chief, to improve communications nationally, was largely responsible for implementing the first version of a police messaging service called Express Message.

Northwich Safe Robbery

The new Express Message scheme helped solve an otherwise ordinary robbery. A bookmaker returned home to find his safe, containing £7,500 in notes and bags containing £150 in silver and copper, missing. The robbery was reported at Northwich Police Station. The particulars of the notes were ascertained and distributed to 147 Police HQs in England and Wales and newspapers in London and Manchester using the scheme.

The publicity led to the first break. Six days later the safe was recovered in Denbighshire. An informer gave the name William Parkinson, who was arrested. Forensic science was used to examine the house and safe which resulted in arrests. All but £200 of the stolen money was recovered. The case provided Captain Horden with a practical demonstration of the new communication system and forensic science.

1935-46 - Sir J. Becke - Major

Chief Sir J.Becke1935 - Cheshire Constabulary established a new recruit training
school in Crewe.

1936 - Forensic Science Laboratory established at HQ, housed in a wooden hut.

1937 - 760 members of the Constabulary. In September the Home Office selected Cheshire to pilot a special scheme to reduce road accidents, overseen by racing driver Lord Cottenham.

In February the Constabulary driving school opened at Hoole Police Station, Chester. Police drivers were trained in the Lagonda, which, when first purchased, reached speeds of 130mph.

1939 - The Constabulary established its first divisional accident officers.

1939 - Start of Second World War
During the war 254 constables and 13 cadets served in the armed
forces. At this time Cheshire Police had responsibility for 14,000 wardens.

1940 - The Chief arranged for cinema slides to be shown  throughout the county in an effort to reduce accidents during black–out.

The first air raid in Cheshire took place on the evening of July 29th in Crewe.

1944 - Cheshire appoints its first police women; 26 years after recruitment began nationally. Twelve WPCs were employed, Gertrude Jones is believed to be one of the first.

1946-63 - G.E. Banwell

Chief G.E.Banwell1947 - Congleton, Hyde, Macclesfield, and Stalybridge merged with Cheshire Constabulary.

1948 - Chester did not amalgamate voluntarily, the Secretary of State held a public enquiry. Cheshire now had 1,016 policemen plus 34 policewomen.

1949 - Chester City Police was forced to amalgamate into Cheshire Constabulary.

1950 - Steps were taken towards creating Cheshire’s own police dog unit.

1955 - Ruth Ellis is the last woman executed in the UK.

1961 - Introduction of traffic wardens.

1963 - The Moors Murderers
Take their first victim on July 12th.

1963-74 - H. Watson

Chief H.Watson1964 - Police Authority changed to Police Committee.

1964 - Introduction of motorcycle training.

1965 - The Moors Murderers
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley arrested for Moors Murders on October 7th after intense investigation by Cheshire Police. Cheshire officers led the search of Saddleworth Moor for their victim’s bodies. The death penalty abolished on November 8th.

1966 - The Moors Murderers
Moors murderers Brady and Hindley were tried at Chester Assizes in April. They stood accused of three murders. They were both found guilty. This concluded a prolonged and intensive investigation by Cheshire detectives.

1967 - Plane Crash
On June 4th,  a British Midland flight packed with holidaymakers returning from Palma, Majorca, crashed in the centre of Stockport, killing 72 people. Twelve passengers survived the crash. The investigation into the crash was conducted by Cheshire officers.

Road Safety Act introduced the breathalyser. The introduction of panda cars in Cheshire.

Cheshire Constabulary moves to a new HQ in Chester.

1967/1968 - Foot and mouth hits Cheshire. The role of the police in Cheshire included implementing strict controls to limit the spread of the disease.

1968 - Criminal Intelligence. Bureau set up at Cheshire HQ.

1972 - M53 opened.

1974 - Police National Computer system became available.

1974-77 - W. Kelsall

Chief W.Kelsall1974 - Officer Kidnapped
A Cheshire Police officer was kidnapped whilst on duty responding to an emergency call. PC3213 Wright, accompanied by a detective, approached a man acting suspiciously who drew a gun and took PC Wright hostage.

1976 - Multi-channel helmets for motorcyclists were purchased.
The helmets allowed officers to use radio whilst riding on patrol. Cheshire had the first computerised intelligence system in the country.

1977 - Shooting of Billy Hughes
Cheshire Police marksmen shoot William “Billy” Hughes. Hughes was in prison facing charges of rape and GBH. He escaped custody whilst on route to court. In his escape he stabbed one of the officers escorting him to court and made his escape. He took a family  hostage for three days at a remote cottage, isolating each individual so none knew of the others’ fate.

The mother was the only member Hughes kept alive and he used her as a hostage to escape from the police who surrounded the cottage on January 14th. Following a drive across several counties, Hughes was apprehended in Rainow, Macclesfield, by Cheshire
Police. A police inquiry ruled that the shooting of Hughes by Cheshire officers was justifiable homicide.

1977-84 - G.E. Fenn

Chief G.E.Fenn1978 - The Constabulary’s vehicle fleet was expanded following a significant purchase of new Rover cars.

1979 - As communication became vital in investigative and patrol duties, the importance of radios increased. In total, Cheshire now had 730 personal radios in use.

1982 - Two hundred and thirty-six miles of motorway were patrolled by Cheshire’s officers, one of the busiest road networks in the country.

1983 - Messenger Dispute
An industrial dispute rocked Eddie Shah’s Messenger Newspapers group plant at Warrington. Shah decided to print his new Today newspaper without the unions agreement and employed unqualified printers, prompting violent strike busting protests and street fighting. His own house was fire–bombed on several occasions. Officers were once again called upon to police a major trade union dispute.

1984 - Lindow Man
A mummified body was dug up on a site in Cheshire, creating a murder mystery. Lindow man is believed to be more than 1,500 years old. It is thought the body is a 25-year-old wealthy man. He died from a blow to the head, had been garotted and his throat cut. Cheshire officers were involved in the excavation of the site.

1984-93 - D.J. Graham

Chief D.J.Graham1985 - A new digital telephone network was installed at Cheshire Police HQ, enhancing public contact with Cheshire officers.

1985 - On April 1st a state of the art control room was opened at HQ.

1989 - Improved forensic laboratory
Further advancements in forensic science prompted Cheshire to purchase a Quasar machine. Quasar illuminated fingerprints in a fluorescent glow so photos could be taken with specialist equipment.

1991 - A 29-year-old masseuse, Lynn Trenholm, was found dead at Pinky’s massage parlour, Boughton, Chester. Despite concentrated efforts by Cheshire detectives this murder remains unsolved.

1993 - Cheshire terrorist attacks

On Thursday, February 25th, during a routine stop check on a van, PC Mark Toker was shot in the leg and lower back by one of three men. Fifty minutes later at a location in Lymm, a motorist was kidnapped at gunpoint by three men who stole his car. Following a police pursuit the car crashed on the Cheshire border. Three arrests were made.

Shortly after 4am the same night the county was rocked by a huge explosion at the gas depot in Warrington. For the first time Cheshire officers were dealing with a terrorist incident. Saturday, March 20th, brought Cheshire’s second terrorist attack. Bridge Street,  Warrington, was packed with people shopping for Mothering Sunday. At lunch time two explosions occurred outside Boots the Chemist, injuring 56 shoppers and killing two children – Tim Parry and Jonathan Ball.
 
Cheshire Police’s investigation involved more than 450 different lines of enquiry and included sightings of people, vehicles and an enormous amount of intelligence. The enquiry encompassed the local community in Warrington, counter terrorism experts in London and intelligence from Ireland.

1993-97-  J.M. Jones

Chief J.M.Jones1994 - Constabulary purchased an Islander light aircraft, to assist operational policing and in search and rescue tasks.

1996 - A major fire broke out in Brookvale Comprehensive School, Murdishaw, Runcorn, in May. The incident involved all of the emergency services. Cheshire Police’s Air Support Unit played a significant role as it relayed information on the hottest areas of the blaze so firefighters could target the worst areas to restrict damage.

Middlewich Helicopter Crash
On the night of October 22nd a helicopter crashes near Middlewich,
killing all five people inside including Chelsea football club vice-chairman, Matthew Harding.

Cheshire police investigated the incident collating evidence to support the Coroner’s inquest.

1997 - Operation Fulcrum
Environmentalists who opposed the construction of the second runway at Manchester Airport build and move into tree houses, burrows and tepees. Cheshire police had a support role during the protest and had to remain impartial, preserving the right to freedom of speech and the right of workers to go about their lawful business.

1997-2002 - N.K. Burgess

Chief N.K.Burgess1998 - Two murders shock Cheshire Teenager Claire Hart was abducted and strangled on her way to school in Congleton and Northwich mum Julia Webb was battered to death as she walked her dog. The investigation into Claire’s murder successfully concluded with the arrest of a man who was charged and found guilty of Claire’s murder. Officers are still working on the unsolved murder of Julia Webb.

1999 - Winsford Train Crash
More than 30 people are injured when a Virgin train collided with a First North Western Pacer train on June 23rd at Winsford. Train driver Roy Eccles was hailed a hero for averting a major disaster.

Operation Package
In December, the first in a series of letter bombs was sent to a company in Yorkshire. Glynn Harding an animal rights activist from Crewe continued sending explosive devices into February 2000.

Three people were injured by the first three parcels, but Cheshire Police were able to prevent more casualties by implementing a new system of investigation.

2000 - Petrol dispute
Petrol stocks ran low as farmers and hauliers blockaded refineries in protest against price rises. Shell’s Stanlow Refinery was at the centre of the dispute and the world’s media attention was focused on the dispute in Cheshire. Officers found themselves policing a national dispute. Cheshire Police beat more than 300 entries to the Law & Order Magazine’s Best International Police Vehicle Design Award. The new livery incorporated the website address and new state-of-the-art reflective markings.

2001 - An outbreak of foot and mouth caused a crisis in dairy farms across Cheshire.

2002 - Airwave, a new police communication system, was introduced, replacing the old analogue radios.

2002-2008 - P. Fahy

Chief P.Fahy2003 - A firearms amnesty was launched nationally, clearing thousands of guns off the streets, with 717 firearms and 7,500 rounds of ammunition were handed to police in Cheshire.

2003/2004 - Cheshire committed officers to assist in training overseas. PC Jim Reid was sent on international duty to the Iraqi war zone to train Iraqi police. Cheshire officers were also involved in identifying the dead in the wake of the Asian tsunami. Almost 300,000 people were killed across the 11 countries affected.

2004 - Police enter partnership at new HQ
Cheshire Constabulary’s new headquarters opened in Winsford.

Under a Government scheme the HQ was to be managed by a private sector company. The new building combined the control rooms from around the county, delivering an improved service for both emergency and non–emergency callers.

2005 - Taking Control
A major reorganisation of the Constabulary introduced a new  policing model and combined the six policing divisions into three areas, Northern, Eastern and Western.

Neighbourhood policing spear-headed the Constabulary’s policing approach, giving local police officers accountability.

Terrorist bombs brought London to a stand still on July 7th, with 52 people killed and more than 700 injured by the blasts. The G8 Summit took place at Gleneagles, Scotland,  from July 6th – 8th. Many of the world’s most influential leaders attended to discuss world issues. Cheshire police officers helped to police the event and control protestors.

2006 - Centralised Custody
Three custom-built ultra modern custody suites were opened in Runcorn, Chester and Middlewich.

2007 - On Thursday, January 18th, severe gales hit the UK. In  Cheshire, the extreme weather prompted the declaration of the first county-wide major incident involving all emergency services. By the time the winds had calmed, two people in the Force area had lost their lives.