St Ives Borough Police (1836 - 1889)


Formed like many others in 1836, the St Ives authorities could only afford to appoint one constable and this remained the case for the force’s 53-year history. The one officer known as the Head Constable had two cells in the town hall basement.

A few years before the St Ives Borough Police amalgamated with the county police, the elderly head constable Mr Bennett had become frail and eccentric. Said to have spent much of his time sat on a stool watching the ships sail into St Ives Bay, Bennett’s final and most inauspicious act was the transfer of a prisoner by train to Bodmin.

During a stop, the head constable decided to get off and stretch his legs, an activity he became so preoccupied with that the train, and his prisoner, left without him!

The Inspector of Constabulary's report of 29 September 1876 greatly criticised the St. Ives Borough along with many other similar borough forces in the county, as being "too small and inefficient to be worthy of keeping." St. Ives, however, held out until 1889 when pressure to amalgamate with the Cornwall Constabulary, which subsequently took over the policing of the town, became too great.

Frock coat and top hat

A St Ives Borough officer dated about 1854. His uniform was similar to many borough forces of that period, with frock coat and top hat. Many officers applied tar to their hats to make them waterproof.

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