Colonel W. Addis Delacombe, Chief Constable of Derby


olonel W. Addis Delacombe, Chief Constable of Derby, was born in Devonshire, in the year 1833, and was the youngest son of the late General H. Ivatt Delacombe, C.B., who, when he died in his

90th year, was the senior general on the list.


Colonel Delacombe commenced his career in the public service at a very early age. He was educated at the Royal Naval School and by private tutor; he obtained his cadetship in August, 1849, and in July, 1850, received his first commission as a Second Lieutenant by passing second of his term out of the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth, when he was forthwith appointed to Woolwich.


From the Royal Navy List we find that Colonel Delacombe holds a medal as having served with the expedition to the Baltic during the Russian War, 1854, in which year be was promoted to First Lieutenant.


He then served for three years in the West Indies on board H.M.S. "Boscawen," bearing the flag of Sir Arthur Fanshawe, K.C.B., Commander-in-Chief, and on returning to England, was in 1858 appointed Adjutant at the Island of Ascension, serving there until promoted to the rank of Captain, 1862, when he returned to Woolwich. In 1863 he was appointed to H.M.S. "Bombay," bearing the flag of Admiral the Hon. Sir Charles Elliott, K.C.B., Commander-in-Chief, South East Coast of America, and commanded the Royal Marines on board that ship on the occasion of her taking fire and blowing up at sea, off Monte Video, in December, 1864, when 97 officers and men perished, 34 of whom were Marines, every sentry dying at his post. On his being promoted to Brevet Major, in 1875, the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty requested the Horse Guards to ante-date his commission for this service.


On returning to England officers and men received a vote of thanks for their heroic conduct on that occasion, passed by both Houses of Parliament. In 1867 he was selected to take command of her Majesty's forces on the disputed islands of San Juan, British Columbia, for the protection of British settlers (it being a joint military occupation with troops of the United States of America), which command he held until the garrison was withdrawn in November, 1872. During the occupation Civil Law was withdrawn, and the administration of the Government devolved upon Colonel Delacombe. Whilst holding this command he was recommended by the Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs and for the Colonies for the local rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, for promotion by the Governor of British Columbia and the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific, and received the thanks of her Majesty's Minister at Washington, likewise two addresses from the inhabitants of the islands. On his return to England, in 1873, he received the thanks of her Majesty's Government from the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; the "appreciation of her Majesty's Government of the manner the joint occupation had been conducted," from the Secretary of State for War; the "satisfaction of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty," and a copy of a letter from the late Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific, Sir Arthur Farquhar, K.C.B., to the Admiralty, "trusting their Lordships would be pleased to give this Officer some mark of their approval of his high services." After which he was recommended both for promotion and for the most distinguished order of St. Michael and St. George.


In 1876, Colonel Delacombe retired, having completed 27 years' continuous service, when he was selected out of 72 candidates, as Chief Constable of Derby, since which time he has received the appreciation and thanks of the late Prime Minister, the present Prime Minister, and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, who were pleased to approve of his "excellent arrangements," whilst escorting them during their respective passages through Derby on the occasion of Her Majesty's State visit to Derby, May, 1891. Colonel Delacombe received special command from Windsor to head and lead her Majesty's procession through the town. At a special meeting of the Town Council, shortly after the event, the Mayor (Sir Alfred Haslam) referred to the Chief Constable's letter reporting his arrangements for this occasion, and he deemed it so valuable that he took the liberty of writing to Sir Henry Ponsonby to inquire if he thought the Queen would like to read the letter, and received a reply in the affirmative; the letter was therefore shown to her Majesty, and he has since been informed that it gave her the greatest possible pleasure to read the statement it contained'"


Colonel Delacombe, from the moment he took up his present position, has been indefatigable in his endeavours to look after the interests and welfare of his men.


Shortly after taking charge he obtained for them the boon of eight hours' duty instead of ten, believing ten hours to be too long for men to walk the streets and do their duty efficiently, which change has been found most beneficial to the men and to the public service, and has been now almost universally adopted.


Another change he effected immediately was in I substituting for the old-fashioned uniform a useful, but at the same time smart-looking-dress which (while at first being looked upon with misgiving and spoken of as the military element creeping in) has become the established uniform of almost all large towns.


At the general meeting of all the Chief Constables of Boroughs in 1881 to consider what steps should be taken relative to super-annuation, he was elected, in his absence, as the first chairman of the Super-annuation Amendment Committee.


In 1886 he was elected president of the Borough Chief Constables' Association. During the passing of the Police Bill of 1890, when the late Sir George Campbell and Captain Verney were opposing the Bill clause by clause, he was in daily attendance at the House of Commons, consulting and giving information on the subject to various members.


In 1879 he recommended a long service scale of pay for his Force to the Watch Committee, which met with much opposition in the Council, but, after several special meetings and long discussions, was adopted by them, and ultimately approved by the Home Secretary. The scale has been found to work well, and give general satisfaction.


The result of Colonel Delacombe's example and his untiring devotion to duty has been a stimulus to the whole Force, Officers and men alike feeling that they have a most worthy and trusty chief, and one upon whom they can always rely whenever difficulties may arise. Lieutenant-Colonel Delacombe retired, owing to ill-health, as Chief Constable for Derby after 22 years on 24 March 1898 (Police Review and Parade Gossip, 9 October 1893 and Cheltenham Chronicle, 26 March 1898 - The British Newspaper Archive)






Chief Constable Delacombe



Constable 54 John Ainsworth



Constable 19 Davill



Constable 20 Harry Allbut


Derby Borough Police, 1894/5 (Submitted by Mike Baker)



Constable 236, Derby Borough (Submitted by Alan Swain)



Derby Borough Police Warrant Officer W Hawke, retired on pension March 3rd 1904. (Submitted by Graham Wheeldon)



Derby Borough Police (Submitted by Ray Ricketts)


Below: A 30-inch long photograph of Derby Borough Police dated 1929. Reproduced in three sections below. (Submitted by Steve Grainger)










(Submitted by Ray Ricketts)




Military Medal for Bravery in the field and the WW1 trio of Star/War Medal and Victory Medal to Sgt 15085 Harold Hodkinson of the Grenadier Guard




Harold Hodkinson served as a Constable from 5 February 1914 to 16 January 1934.



Below: During the 1960s Derby Borough used a cloth white helmet cover for officers on point duty, as shown in this photograph of Jim Payne on a traffic point. On 1 April 1967 Derby Borough Police became part of Derbyshire County and Borough.



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