Skelton in Cleveland - Crime Watch - Village Policemen.

Langbaurgh Division of the North Riding Constabulary in the 1890s.

Left side and back row - Supt J R Hutchinson, Sgt Robert Haw [Skelton], Sgt Pickering, PC Phillips, PC Ford, PC Weatherill, PC Calvert [Skelton, later Sgt], PC Banner.
Front - PC Dennison, PC Strickland, PC Henderson, [later Deputy Chief Constable], PC M Thornton, Sgt Newstead, Insp Thornton.


Reports in the local Daily Gazette and Northern Echo show that crimes like Theft and Burglary in a village like Skelton were very rare in Victorian times.
Similarly very few rapes and sexual offences occurred and when they did were severely punished by the Courts.
People needed each other more in times when they had less and there was a strong feeling of Community, reinforced by high Church and Chapel attendance that created a strong sense of moral values that have been lost in many folk today.
This appreciation of rightful ownership does not seem to have applied to the extensive land owned by Skelton Castle or the wildlife upon it, which was often treated as fair "game" by locals, who had big families to feed and at times of unemployment and soup kitchens were driven to the point of starvation.
A constant stream of trespassers and poachers appeared at Guisborough Magistrates Court and they were just the ones who were caught.
A far greater number of charges were brought before the local Magistrates for drunkenness and the resulting disorderly and violent behaviour.
One day it was recorded with amazement at Guisborough that there were none. This is despite the efforts of various Temperance movements at the time preaching the evils of drink.
The social problems caused by Alcohol must have existed for centuries. Fighting mindless drunks seems to have been an accepted part of the Policeman's life.
The landed Gentry Magistrates often handed down mere fines for drunken attacks on the Police rather than the imprisonment with hard labour on the treadmill awarded for some other offences.

Sgt Robert Haw served for 17 years in Skelton in the Victorian age. The following incidents illustrate what the bobby of the day had to contend with:-
As W S Gilbert's comic song of the day said, a Policeman's life was certainly not an 'appy one.

1870 - 4th October - A "ROW" AT SKELTON GREEN.
Anthony Pinder was charged with assaulting PC Haw at Skelton over two years ago, on the 15th June 1868.
PC Haw said that he went into Riley's public house on Skelton Green at about 11 p.m. where he met the defendant who asked whether he wished to have a row.
After that he was called in by the landlord to quell a row and the taproom light was extinguished. The men attacked the officer, who was knocked down, kicked and his clothes partly torn off his back.
Defendant was the ringleader and he absconded the next morning. A warrant was issued, but could not be executed until last week.
3 men were apprehended at the time and 2 of them convicted. John Riley, landlord, proved that Pinder was in the house and went out with the others and that the officer returned with his face cut and bleeding. Defendant was fined 41 shillings including costs.

John Smith was summoned by PC Haw for being drunk and riotous and also by Thomas Andrews for wilfully damaging a door to the extent of 3s 6d on Saturday the 18th.
PC Haw said he saw Smith kicking at complainant's door after a row in the house and the company being asked to leave.
He was drunk and when about to take him to the lock-up the mob effected a rescue and threw stones, some of which struck him on the head and back.
Fined 10s and costs and 13s for second offence. 32s 6d in all.

George Mills was brought up by PC Haw for being drunk and riotous in the streets of Skelton and for making a "tremendous and fearful" disturbance at midnight. Having been locked up, the prisoner made his escape and was again apprehended next morning. Fined 14s including costs.

A Truncheon that was actually used by the North Riding Constabulary bearing the initials VR for Victoria Regina. No doubt a similar weapon meted out the "bruteful" treatment complained of here.

Noah House, the landlord of the Old Royal George, Skelton, accused Christopher Charlton and Robert Avery of being drunk and refusing to quit his house on the 5th.
The assistance of PC Haw became necessary and they were taken into custody. The prisoners protested their sobriety and described the conduct of the police as "bruteful".
Fined 5s with 18s costs or 14 days hard labour.

1872 - 30th July - DRUNK AND "ROWCHES".
William Moore, Jane Moore and William Raynor denied being drunk and riotous at Skelton on the 21st. The husband and wife were drunk and troubled with "effusing tongues".
They turned out into the street and then Rayner endeavoured to assist the woman in thrashing her husband. Moore was afterwards wheeled to the lock-up in a barrow, being unable to walk.
The female prisoner was now anxious to know where she got the beer from to make her "drunk and rowches."
PC Haw said that from 10 to 11 p.m on Sunday he found the men fighting, the woman "bleeding fearfully", then one of the defendants flourished a poker and the other lay down kicking his legs out.
He "then shouted, bawled and made a tremendous noise." The woman was the drunkest of the 3. The men were fighting and woman on the top of them, encouraging Rayner to thrash her husband.

The Police Station at the corner of Skelton High St and South Terrace.
The building was bought by the North Riding Constabulary from Skelton Castle Estate in 1922.

Moore put his head through Haw's legs and tried to send him backwards over. The woman said that her husband had accused her of a man she nothing knew nothing about, and the man refused to go with her, as he should have done, to face it out.
In answer to Moore, PC Haw said he "never saw a more violent man nor a bigger brute in his life".
Jane was dismissed with costs, her husband fined 20s and costs and Raynor 10s and costs. All in default 14 days prison

1872 - 9th October - PC HAW RESCUED BY HIS WIFE.
Samuel Bagnall admitted being drunk and riotous and rolling about near the Royal George and Duke William Inns at Skelton on Sunday afternoon last.
PC Haw told a terrible tale of the Sunday conduct of Bagnall, who was also charge with assaulting him in the lock-up at Skelton.
Defendant refused to empty his pockets and when the officer tried to search him, he threw him down, pulled his whiskers and threw his legs round his back.
It was necessary for Mrs Haw to go into the cell to rescue her husband. Fined 28s 6d including costs.

1879 - 15th July - DRUNK POLICE ASSAULT.
Charles Broughton, a deputy at the Park Pit mines was charged with being drunk, disorderly and assaulting the police at Skelton.
PC Brough found the defendant in the High Street in an intoxicated state. He was shouting, swearing and challenging persons passing by to fight him.
As he would not go home quietly the constable was obliged to take him into custody. He became exceedingly violent and struck the officer on the head and breast.
He was escorted to Skelton Police Station with great difficulty and resisted all efforts to search him until Sergeant Haw came to assist.
Defendant said he had been to his "rent dinner" and taken too much punch. He could not remember the assault and asked for leniency. Admiral Chaloner on the Bench said he could be fined 20 or 6 months prison.
In the circumstances he was fined 1 for the assault and 10s for drunk and disorderly conduct.

At Guisborough Petty Sessions yesterday a wooden-legged man named Robert Hanks was charged with being drunk and riotous, assaulting the police and tearing a police officer's uniform at Skelton on Saturday night.
The prisoner maddened by drink had created a disturbance in the main street of the village and declining to go away at the request of Sgt Haw and PC Gospel Brough, he was seized by the officers, who proceeded to remove him to the neighbouring lock-up.
In this, however, they had a troublesome and difficult task, as the prisoner, letting himself down on his back, shot out his wooden leg in all directions in a bewildering manner, staggering one officer and dazzling the other, the Sergeant being so seriously belaboured that he was almost rendered unfit for duty.
According to the Sergeant's statement he received 2 severe blows from the prisoner's wooden leg, one on the back of the head and the other under the latter making him that "he couldn't move his jaw next morning".
Being for a few moments hors de combat, the prisoner turned his attention to Gospel Brough and throwing his arms round the legs of the constable he fixed his teeth in the blue unmentionables and tore them to the extent of 18s damage.
A young man coming to the assistance of the officers, a wheelbarrow was procured, the prisoner bundled in and then wheeled off to the durance vile.
The prisoner on being asked what he had to say to the charge replied that "he couldn't remember a thing about it."
Admiral Chaloner, the chairman of the Bench, said he had rendered himself liable to 6 months imprisonment for the assault, but as he did not appear to have been before the Court before they would only commit him to prison for 6 weeks with hard labour.
For being drunk and riotous fined 10s and 12s costs and he would have to pay for the damage to the uniform.

Frederick Carter, a miner of Skelton and Rebecca Jane Carter, his wife were charged at Guisborough Petty Session with assaulting Sgt Haw with intent to do him grievous bodily harm.
The were also charged along with George Pearson and his wife Lydia of assaulting Sgt Stones.
The two male prisoners had been summoned for drunkenness last Tuesday, did not appear and were fined 10 shillings and costs.
When they appeared late and "elevated" the Court turned them out.
Sgt Stones, who now lies at the Guisborough Hospital, stated that he and Sgt Stones were proceeding to Skelton in Mr Walton's brake when they passed the 4 prisoners on the road.
They alighted near the Cemetery Lodge to speak to someone and Geo Pearson came up to Sgt Stones and said - "Now you ********, you have had it your way today."
Sgt Stones replied - "Well, you were summoned for 10.30 a.m and should have been there."
After more threatening language he struck Sgt Stones a savage blow in the face, causing his mouth to bleed profusely.
The Sgt got him down and while he was trying to handcuff him, Carter came up and hit him several times on the head.
Sgt Haw pulled him off and Carter struck him in the face almost stunning him. Sgt Haw tried to handcuff him.
Mrs Carter encouraged her husband on. Carter managed to get up and his wife savagely pulled the Sgt's whiskers.
In the struggle that ensued both Sgt Haw and Carter fell to the ground and in that fall the Sgt's leg was broken.
Carter continued to strike him after this. Sgt Stones corroborated the evidence and added that he was kicked and struck by Mrs Pearson.
All four prisoners were committed for trial at the next Quarter Sessions.

After 17 years service in the Parish Police-Sergeant Robert Haw, was presented with a testimonial at a meeting in the Wharton Arms Hotel.
As a token of the subscribers respect he was presented with a handsome timepiece supplied by Mr G King of Skelton and a purse of gold.

During the Victorian age Sgt Calvert served for over 20 years in Skelton and PC Gospel Brough for many years, before retiring to man the Toll Gate on the Halfpenny Bridge.

John Clervaux Chaytor.
Chief Constable from 1929 to 1958.

They both figure in many reports similar to the above in this website's pages for the later 1800s.


1900 - Policing an area of 2000 square miles was slowly transformed by the coming of communication by telegraph and telephone.

1909 - Daniel Chilvers was murdered in Skelton Ellars and his body found in the beck. Sgt Walker of Skelton investigated. Details here.

1911 - The first detectives were appointed in the North Riding and the storage of criminal records started.

1912 - Coal strikes and industrial unrest caused the occasional deployment of N Riding policemen to assist in other areas.

1913 - The North Riding Constabulary bought its first car.

1914 - The First World War. 11 North Riding policemen gave their lives. At home Foreign aliens of military age had to be traced and interned.

A tragic shooting "accident" leading to the death of William Towse Bell, aged 31, of 2 South Terrace, Skelton, a Constable in the North Riding Police Force was investigated by the Cleveland Coroner, Mr W Richardson at the Duke William Hotel, Skelton today.
PC Bell was in the private service of Mr W H A Wharton of Skelton Castle.
Sergeant Walker told the jury that he was returning through the woods from a Police inspection at Saltburn with the deceased and PC Scollen.
The Sergeant's regulation Police revolver was defective and PC Bell asked to have a look at it.

Alan Ward.
A Skelton man who spent his working life serving the North Riding Constabulary.

Witness said that there was something wrong with the pin and PC Bell pushed it back with his pocket knife and told the Sgt to fire.
The Sgt sent a shot into the bank and was turning round when PC Bell took hold of the barrel with a view to examining it again. At that moment the revolver went off and the bullet struck the Constable in the lower part of the body.
Sgt Walker immediately telephoned for Dr Burnett, but the man was dead when he arrived.
PC Scollen bore out the Sgt's statement and Ada Shawcross of 2 West Terrace, Skelton, who was upon the scene said she thought that it was a pure accident. A verdict of Accidentally shot was returned.

1916 - N Riding policemen were issued with motor cycles.

1921 - The years after the War saw terrorist acts by Sinn Fein and local policemen had to keep watch on haystacks and the like for potential acts of Arson.

1922 - Cars were issued to police stations. The last horse was sold in 1925.

The Skelton Police Station at the corner of the High St and South Terrace was was purchased by the North Riding Constabulary from Skelton Castle Estate.

1929 Lt Col John Clervaux Chaytor DSO became the Chief Constable and served until 1958. He had served with distinction throughout the First World War in the South Staffs Regiment.

The years of the Depression saw more industrial unrest and local police were sent to assist in troubled areas.
1935 - 28th March. Florence Mary Knaggs of New Skelton was tried for the murder of her baby by throwing it into the sea at Runswick Bay - Details here.

1940 - Second World War saw 103 policemen serve and 6 lost their lives.

1945 - A Road Traffic Division was formed.

1947 - The force numbered 627.

1968 - The North Riding Constabulary was amalgamated with others and became the North Yorkshire Police.

1974 - The County Boundary changes of this year, which took away 1000 years of our Yorkshire heritage saw the creation of Cleveland with its own Police Force.

1996 - Cleveland was abolished and replaced with 4 Unitary Authorities. Skelton became part of Redcar and Cleveland.

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