Most of the time our services do a fine job and they are the backbone of our society. But there are occasions when it all goes wrong.
If we look back at 19th Century Halifax, it is recorded that on 3rd December 1877, several militiamen stationed at the recently-opened Barracks in Gibbet Street, appeared at the Borough Magistrates’ Court, charged with assaulting three policemen.
For some days earlier, complaints had been made to Chief Constable Charles Pole about rowdy and undisciplined conduct of the militiamen stationed at the Barracks, in the public streets.
As a result, the previous Saturday night, three policemen – PCs Edward Horby, George Watson and Samuel Crossley – had been sent to keep watch in Gibbet Street. About 11.30p.m., they saw about ten men approaching from Queen’s Road, proceeding towards the barracks.
The police watched the men for about forty yards, and observed the group head towards a wall, three yards of which they deliberately demolished. Constable Horby (in plain clothes) then went towards the men, and seized one of them by the collar, at the same time telling him he was being arrested and taken into custody for damage to the wall.
Meanwhile, the other two policemen had reached the spot. Then one of the militiamen, Bernard Casey, said to his colleagues “Let’s into them!”
Consequently, the men took off their belts and began to thrash the three policemen. They were all injured, but P.C. Horby received several blows with the belts, one of which - given by Charles Fisk – caused a serious wound near his right eye. Fisk managed to escape.
The policemen testified in Court as to what had occurred, and the magistrates considered the case clearly proved against six men.
They sentenced James Burke, Thomas Hitchen, Frank Ellis and Michael Flannaghan to three months in jail, while Bernard Casey and Charles Fisk received four months’ hard labour.
Born at Belgrave, Leics., in 1842, the son of a policeman, Charles Pole came to Halifax as Chief Constable in 1876, after an embarrassing resignation by C. T Clarkson, his predecessor here. Beginning his career as a police clerk in Leicester, Charles served as Chief Constable at Grantham, Lincs., before coming to Halifax.
He became a greatly respected officer, living for over twenty years at 96 Lister Lane.
He resigned his post in 1903, and retired to Morecambe, where his wife Ann died in 1904. He himself died there in January 1909.
P.C. Edward Horby, who lived at Ovenden, went on to become a sergeant in the Halifax Police.
He was born at Binbrook, Lincolnshire in 1843. On retirement he returned to his local district, dying at Cleethorpes in 1922. P.C. Samuel Crossley, born in 1849, came from Barkisland.
In June 1877, he was living at Clarence Street, when he married Mary Wineford Blackburn at Halifax Parish Church. She was from Salterhebble, but had been born in Tasmania.
David C Glover