he Port of Bristol Police started as The Bristol Docks Company in 1803. The Bristol Docks Act 1803 created the company and provided for the improvement of the Port and Harbour of Bristol. A force of 51 men were duly appointed as constables under this Act and were stationed in a Police Office building at Wapping Wharf, adjacent to the Bristol Dock Company office at

Underfall Yard, Bristol City Docks. This force can boast to be among the first in the country to have formed a similar Dock Police to that of London.


 

 

Above: 1958 photograph of a Baton inscribed: "Property of the Bristol Docks Company 1804". Weighted with quicksilver. (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 

Section 22 of the Bristol Docks Act 1806 gave the company powers to appoint constables for the purpose of preventing thefts on the Rivers. The City Docks, then as now, lie on the Rivers Froome and Avon. Jurisdiction of the constables extended to land within the City of Bristol boundary and where the docks lay within the adjoining counties of Gloucestershire and Somerset then constabulary powers were also enjoyed and offenders brought before the Bristol Justices.

 

Section 25 of the 1806 Act gave power to constables to stop and detain persons suspected of having goods stolen from vessels in the harbour. This power was not only given to constables appointed under the Act but extended to Constables, Petty Constables, and Watchman of every Parish, Precinct and Place in the said City of Bristol.

 

Section 26 provides powers to magistrates to issue warrants to the said constables.

 

Section 32 provided penalties of Transportation to such places beyond the seas for fourteen years or imprisonment or whipping.


Below: Two photographs of the annual parade, 1946

 

 


 

 

 

In 1848 the Bristol Dock Company was taken into the ownership of Bristol City Council and began trading as the Port of Bristol Authority. It was then deemed unnecessary by the new authority to continue with the inherited police force, as Bristol had by then in 1842 formed a River Police section of the Bristol Constabulary.

 

In 1877 the Bristol and Portishead Pier and Railway Company formed a small police force at Portishead Dock comprising of a sergeant and six constables. A force of similar size was also formed by the Bristol Port and Channel Dock Company at Avonmouth in 1878.

 

These two dock companies were subsequently acquired by the Port of Bristol Authority in 1884 and the present Port of Bristol Police Force were then reformed from its beginnings in 1803.

 

Existing records show six constables joining in 1885, they were W.Hawes, J.Kilminster, J.Cook, M.Bailey, J.Smith and C.Beasant. Supervisory officers appointed at that time were sergeants J.Morcombe and W.Jelly. In command was Inspector Twitt on secondment from Bristol Constabulary.

 

As of 2010, the force comprises of; 1 Inspector, 3 Sergeants, 11 Constables and 9 Support Staff. They have 4 vehicles at their disposal and cover 26 square kilometres. All Officers are sworn in as Police Constables under Section 79 of the Harbour, Docks & Piers Clauses Act 1847:


 
 


Harbour and Dock Police And with respect to the Police of the Harbour, Dock, or Pier, be it enacted as follows:.


 
 

Justices to appoint Special Constables named by the Undertakers. LXXIX. Any Two Justices may appoint such Persons as shall be nominated for that Purpose by the Undertakers to be special Constables within the Limits of the Harbour, Dock, Pier, and Premises of the Undertakers, and within One Mile of the same; and every Person so appointed shall be sworn in by any such Justices duly to execute the Office of a Constable within the Limits aforesaid, and when so sworn in shall have the same Powers, Protections, and Privileges within the Limits aforesaid, and shall be subject to the same Liabilities, As Constables have or are subject to by the Laws of the Realm.


 
 

Dismissal of Constables LXXX. Any Two Justices may dismiss any such Constable from his Office, and upon such Dismissal all Powers, Protections, and Privileges vested in such Constable shall cease.


 

  

 

 

  

 

 

 

Above: Brass Dock Police truncheon (copy), 1804 Bristol Docks Company (Submitted by Christopher Davies)


 

 

Above: 1804 Bristol Docks Company Cutlass recorded as being purchased for the Bristol City Dock Police. The blade was made in Germany by Solingen and marked with the Running Wolf stamp in the 1790's. (Submitted by Christopher Davies)


 

 

Above: 1820 truncheon, in the reign of King George lV, issued by the company to one of their Bristol City Docks Police Constables (Submitted by Christopher Davies)


 

 

Above: Inspector Stoner, 1890 (Submitted by Christopher Davies)


 

Avonmouth Docks Police Station, 1920 (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Annual Parade, 1947 (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Annual Parade, 1948 (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Annual Parade, 1948 (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Harry Bolton, Port of Bristol Police Constable 73

 


 

Port of Bristol WPCs, 1955 (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Port of Bristol Police Annual Parade, 1960 (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

PC Chris Davies on duty in 1964 (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

PC Ken Bartlett, Control Room Operations Officer, holding a VHF transmitter (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

PC Barry Mitchell with first hand held two part telephone in 1970 (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Port of Bristol Police Ford, c1960s (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Port of Bristol Police Commer, c1960s (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

One of twenty eight police pillars on the Dock Estate (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Lord Mayor Inspection (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

PC Jack George (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Avonmouth Docks Police Station, 1970 (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Inspector and Sergeant visit to HMS Britannia at Royal Portbury Dock in 1970's (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Port of Bristol Police Land Rover, Royal Portbury Port Police Station (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Port of Bristol Police Ford Transit (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Port of Bristol Police group (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Port of Bristol Police officers, Avonmouth Docks Police Station (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Port of Bristol Police officers, Royal Portbury Port Police Station (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Port of Bristol Police officers (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

(Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

(Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

(Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

(Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 


 

Port of Bristol Police vehicles, 1994 (Submitted by Christopher Davies)

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

 

Above: Today's Port of Bristol Police officers (Submitted by Alan Matthews)


Sources
  1. Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847
    Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0
    www.legislation.gov.uk


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