An ad hoc force for Truro existed between 1836 and 1838 when it was resolved to appoint a superintendent and constables proper.
“I’ll have you under the clock!”
was on oft uttered warning to miscreants by the borough constables – a reference to the police cells situated under the town hall clock on Boscawen Street.
1877 City status
In 1877 Truro was granted city status and the police force was renamed accordingly. The long and varied history of the Truro City Police concluded on 28 February 1921 when the constables were forcibly merged with the Cornwall Constabulary.
Like many other police forces Truro started life as a borough police force but changed its name in the late 19th century to Truro City Police to reflect its status as a police force in the Cathedral City. When the small city force amalgamated with Cornwall Constabulary on 1st March 1921, the Home Office approved an increase in the manpower of the Cornwall Constabulary of two sergeants and ten constables.
A collection of images
Truro Borough Police 1870
Truro Borough Police, 1870 (image © Jeff Cowdell). Seen here with their senior officer, Superintendent Woodcock, are (left to right) Sergeant Roberts and Constables Coad, Collett, Scown and Bettison.
Truro City Police 1890
Truro City Police, 1890 (image © Jeff Cowdell).
Superintendent to Chief Constable
Having changed its name from a borough force, Truro also underwent a change of uniform to reflect its new status. At the same time, the rank of the senior officer also changed from Superintendent to Chief Constable. Seen above with the force's Chief Constable, Mr Angel, Truro was distinguished by being one of only a few in the Westcountry ever to use the Metropolitan Police style duty band.
Officers would be obliged to wear their uniforms at all times and the duty band was removed when off duty. Sergeants also took to wearing the conventional chevrons on the arms of their tunics. The helmet plate badges for sergeants were chrome but black for constables.
Truro City Sergeant
Once promoted the constables changed their collar numbers in order to reflect their new rank. The crest of the city police is shown on the collar as well as on the chrome helmet plate badge. This photograph, which has been touched-in with watercolour paint, would have been taken around 1910. Those with an eye for detail will note that the whistle chain is leading to the right breast pocket as opposed to the left, as in the majority of forces. Also, the chain enters the pocket on the outside edge of the button, which is most uncommon. The familiar large circular St John's First Aid badge was also worn above the chevrons, as was often found in many police forces of the day.
Truro City Police 1921
The last photograph taken of this force just prior to its amalgamation with the Cornwall County Constabulary on 1 March 1921. The Chief Constable, Mr Angel, had been the senior officer for over 30 years.
He, as a much younger man, appears in the 1890 photograph of the force, (please see above). The officers' whistle chains are still being worn in an unusual manner, to the right and to the outside of the pocket button. Such small peculiarities vanished along with this city force. Several of the old Truro City men went on to serve in the Cornwall force for many more years, not being required to leave the city to serve elsewhere in the county in deference to their old force.
A Victorian helmet plate badge. This badge would have been used prior to the crest being displayed as in the previous 1890 photograph. (image © Vic Denyer)
A constable's helmet plate was the final badge used by constables of the force. (image © Metropolitan Police Museum)