A Very Unusual Photograph from my Traffic Police Days

Back in 1978-79, as a keen amateur photographer during the Traffic Patrol years of my police career, I was encouraged to take one of my cameras to work with me by the man who was then my Chief Superintendent.  I’m not certain, however, that he and I had quite the same end results in mind. 🙂

Having worked out a shot I would really like to achieve, I found a blacksmith in the village of Blencow, near Penrith, and gave him the drawing of a bracket that I needed — one that would hold my camera at a lateral angle of 45°, down beside the back wheel of my police BMW R80 motorcycle, so that when I was leaning to the right, the camera would come level and allow a dramatic, ultra wide-angle view along the side of the bike.

Never mind Daniel Day Lewis and his famous “Left Foot,” this is my own *right* foot! It was taken at Slapestones Roundabout, at the junction of the A66 and the A592, near Penrith, where Rheged is now located. I took it myself, in 1978 or 79, on my police BMW R80 motorcycle, using a Contax RTS MkII camera body with a 21mm lens and a motordrive, mounted on a bracket of my own design and triggered by a long, electronic, cable release. Copyright: Eddie Wren

With a motordrive fitted to my rather expensive Contax RTS MkII 35mm camera, to wind the film forward after every shot, a 21mm lens, and a 10′ electronic cable release that came up onto the saddle, up the back of my leather jacket and down the left sleeve to my hand, I took three rolls of film in one afternoon.  Many of the images were spoiled, either by vibration or by inaccurate exposure (which needed to be critically accurate on professional transparency film) but a handful of the images were very pleasing.

The best one of all was one I took as I was heading towards Kirkstone Pass, around the very sharp bend at Hartsop, at the south end of Ullswater.  I later submitted it in a photography competition and was delighted when it won top place and a national trophy that was subsequently presented to me at the London School of Economics.  In the photo in question, the chairman of the judges questioned my use of the title ‘Foot Down’, and assured me that if I had asked the motorcyclist, he would have assured me that the ‘accelerator’ on a motorbike is operated by hand and not by foot.   The judge was astonished when I told him that the police officer’s leg shown in the photo was actually my own and he was baffled as to how I’d taken the photo.  (Using brackets to hold cameras in position on  — for example — the side of vehicles was effectively unknown back then so this was apparently my one act of innovation!)

Anyway, I told him that my title referred primarily to the fact that the outer edge of the sole of my boot was actually rubbing along the road because I was banked over so far — it was a very sharp bend — but it also was intended to imply the speed involved, which was much less than appearances suggested, again due to the sharpness of the bend.

The picture shown here was taken slightly further north of Ullswater, at Slapestones Roundabout at the junction of the A66 with the A592, where the Rheged centre has since been built, and did not involve the edge of my boot being scraped along the road!  Once my three rolls of film were used up, I decided that my camera had faced enough jeopardy — primarily from vibration but flying gravel was also a concern — and that was the only time I ever did this.

Finally, the copyright notice on the attached photograph of necessity uses my real name rather than my author’s pen-name, so please don’t be confused by that.

The English Lake District National Park gets UNESCO World Heritage Site Status

Will the benefits of Unesco World Heritage Site status outweigh the problems of greater bureaucracy and tighter regulation for local Cumbrian people, given the rules already in place from the National Park Authority?

Copyright photo: Eddie Wren

One must hope that the benefits for Lake District folk from this change of status will be significant.  Presumably they will at least bring much  greater global publicity and awareness, and therefore growth in the tourist economy but how much stronger will regulations be regarding, say, farmers wanting to build an extra house for their growing family?  And what about more affordable housing schemes for locals who want to stay local rather than being priced out of their own valleys by rich city people who will pay high prices for weekend or holiday cottages?  Unique culture has already been critically damaged by the latter.

Here is the news article from the BBC.

Low Use of Firearms by British Police — Long May it Continue

 

‘What can US trigger-happy cops learn from Britain’s gunless police?’ — The Independent, June 2015

American police kill the same number of people with guns in a day that UK officers do in a year. Griff Witte, an American Washington Post reporter working in London, reports…

In a country where the vast majority of police officers patrol with batons and pepper spray, the elite cadre of British cops who are entrusted with guns almost never use them. Police in Britain have fatally shot two people in the past three years.

That’s less than the average number of people shot and killed by police every day in the United States over the first five months of 2015, according to a Washington Post analysis.

As the United States reckons with that toll — and with the constant drip of videos showing the questionable use of force by officers — lightly armed Britain might seem an unorthodox place to look for solutions. But experts say the way British bobbies are trained, commanded and vigorously scrutinized may offer US police forces a useful blueprint for bringing down the rate of deadly violence and defusing some of the burning tension felt in cities from coast to coast… (Read the full article.)

 

An August 2014 article, from PRI

In 2012, 409 people were shot and killed by American police in what were termed justifiable shootings. In that same year, British police officers fired their weapons just once. No one was killed.

In 2013, British police officers fired their weapons all of three times. No one died.  According to The Economist, “British citizens are around 100 times less likely to be shot by a police officer than Americans. Between 2010 and 2014, the police force of one small American city — Albuquerque in New Mexico — shot and killed 23 civilians; seven times more than the number of Brits killed by all of England and Wales’s police 43 forces during the same period….  (Read the full article.)

 

An August 2014 article — ‘Trigger Happy’ — from The Economist

Civilians — innocent or guilty — are far more likely to be shot by police in America than in any other rich country.  In 2012, according to data compiled by the FBI, 410 Americans were “justifiably” killed by police—409 with guns. That figure may well be an underestimate. Not only is it limited to the number of people who were shot while committing a crime, but also, amazingly, reporting the data is voluntary…

[In Britain], the last time a British police officer was killed by a firearm on duty was in 2012, in a brutal case in Manchester. The annual number of murders by shooting is typically less than 50… In America, by contrast, it is hardly surprising that cops resort to their weapons more frequently. In 2013, 30 cops were shot and killed—just a fraction of the 9,000 or so murders using guns that happen each year. Add to that a hyper-militarised police culture and a deep history of racial strife and you have the reason why so many civilians are shot by police officers. Unless America can either reduce its colossal gun ownership rates or fix its deep social problems, shootings of civilians by police—justified or not—seem sure to continue…  (Read the full article.)

 

 

A 2015 interview with Cumbria’s Chief Constable about Police cuts – and it’s sadly worth re-watching

Back in 2015, Cumbria’s Chief Constable Jerry Graham spoke out against proposals for further cuts which would leave policing in Cumbria “unrecognisable”.

The article in 2015 continued:  If these cuts were to be finalised Cumbria would lose the highest proportion of our budget out of all the forces in England and Wales.

The cuts would mean the end of policing in Cumbria as we know it, and would result in “serious degrading of policing for the county”.

In this video he outlines his concerns, and asks the public if they value their police service to do something about it by joining in the conversation on social media at #PolicingCumbria

Details on budget figures and a quote from the Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes can be found here: http://www.cumbria-pcc.gov.uk/news/police-funding.aspx

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The above post was forwarded to me recently by my friend and former police colleague, Cliff Heaney, who very understandably asks: What next?

The situation, in terms of future law and order on the streets and in the countryside of England and Wales, cannot be good.

Steve Shearwater,

1 June 2017

‘Blue’ – a police memoir by John Sutherland, hits No.4 in Sunday Times book rankings

A newly-published book about the Metropolitan Police has hit fourth position in the Sunday Times book rankings!

Police officers from around the country attended the London launch of Blue: A Memoir this week – a new book outlining the highs and lows of being a British Bobby.

The book by Ch Supt John Sutherland – Twitter’s @policecommander – focusses on the positive work of his Met Police colleagues during a 25-year career but also on how policing can take its toll, including its difficult to read pages on John suffering from depression.

The strapline for the book is “Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces.”

Speaking at the event, John said the idea for the book came from the imbalance of predominantly negative reporting about policing in the media.

He said: “For the past 25 years, I have had the privilege of doing a job I love – alongside people I truly admire.

“In its way, this book is a love letter to each one of them: my family, my city and the women and men of the police force.

“Blue tells some of their stories – some of our stories – and in doing so, tries to provide some balance to the wider story being told about policing in this country.

“But it is also a very personal story of the toll that life and policing can take. Four years ago, whilst serving as the Borough Commander for Southwark in South London, I broke. I’m still mending.”

The book features large chunks on John’s rise through the ranks, his time as a hostage negotiator, as a borough commander and has a real focus on the scourge of knife crime in the capital.

Both the speech and book resonated well with the audience in attendance at the launch in London – which also included a number of John’s friends and family.

Also there were the Kinsella family. Ben Kinsella was killed in a stabbing incident in Islington in 2008 – and John has remained in touch with them.

‘Blue: A Memoir’ went on sale on Thursday 25 May.

View on Police Oracle

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As a closing note, I will add my own congratulations to Chief Superintendent John Sutherland, who is on Twitter @policecommander

Steve Shearwater

Job Vacancy for a Police Superintendent in Kendal

I’m not sure they’ll still be accepting applications for this job and its tempting salary!  But either way….. No perquisites! 😀

Job available for a police superintendent in Kendal, Cumbria, in 1844.

The Winter Mountaineering in Chapter 22 of ‘My Cup Runneth Over’

A winter walk in the Lakeland Fells

. Looking west across Haweswater before the start of the walk, to Riggindale Crags on the north side of Long Stile and Caspel Gate (the descent route).  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Some of the nicest compliments I have received for my first book in the Cumbria Police Novels series have been for the description of a circular, mid-winter fell walk, starting and finishing at the south end of Haweswater.

2. Small Water (tarn), part way up Nan Bield pass. The path here crosses the outflowing beck (stream) and works its way around the far side. This tarn can be seen again, from the top of the pass, in photograph number 4.  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Richard Wallace, retired senior lecturer in classics at Keele University, in a review of My Cup Runneth Over, kindly wrote: “…One of the most attractive features of the novel is the lively and evocative scenes of Cumbria, its people, and its landscape. I particularly enjoyed a marvellous description of a winter walk over High Street. You could feel the crunch of the snow under your boots, the cold wind on your face, and the exhilaration of getting to the top and just looking at the views. I wanted to be there!…”  (See more readers’ opinions)

3. Ill Bell (a different fell to Mardale Ill Bell) and Froswick (the more pointed summit), above Kentmere Reservoir, from Nan Bield pass.  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

The route, that day, went from Haweswater up past Small Water (photo 2) to the top of Nan Bield Pass.  After a look over ‘the other side’, down into Kentmere (photo 3) and shortly afterwards getting an exciting shock-of-our lives from the jet, we continued up towards the top (photo 4) of the beautifully-named Mardale Ill Bell.

4. Looking down Nan Bield pass from the flanks of Mardale Bell. Part way down the fell is Small Water – mostly frozen over – then down in the valley is Haweswater. In the far distance are the Pennines. Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

The photograph (number 4) of the snow, beautifully sculpted into drifts against a dry stone wall, of which only the top ‘cam’ stones are visible, was taken on Racecourse Hill (read Chapter 22 for an accurate description of how a mountain got such a name!), and I believe I was standing on the top of the trig’ point (i.e. a mapmakers’ triangulation pillar) to get the necessary high viewpoint.

5. Snow drifts sculpted by wind and ice along the west side of a dry stone wall on Racecourse Hill and High Street – a former Roman Road. The fell tops at the far left are, L-to-R, Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick. In the central far background are gleams off the water of Windermere and then the distant Morecambe Bay (Irish Sea).  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Coming back down via Long Stile and Caspel Gate was interesting due to the fact that in places the snow had frozen extremely hard and in places there were large areas of sheet ice.  Attempting it without crampons could potentially have proved lethal (photo 5).

6. Eddie Wren — whose author’s pen-name is Steve Shearwater — descending Long Stile.       Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Steve Shearwater

Buy a paperback or online version of the novel ‘ My Cup Runneth Over’

Article and images copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

The Drovers’ Inn at Linthwaite

In reality, this is the Horse & Farrier (1677), in my home village of Threlkeld in the Lake District National Park, but in ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ and the other Cumbria Police Novels to follow, the Drovers’ Inn at Linthwaite is based upon it.

The Horse and Farrier Inn at Threlkeld, which for the purposes of ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ and the rest of the ‘Cumbria Police Novels’ series become the Drovers’ Inn and Linthwaite, respectively.

The Salutation Inn — now sadly just known as ‘The Sally’ — which in the books is the Birch Hill Arms, is in the background on the right (with a red sign on the wall).

I took this photograph during the mid-1990s, despite the copyright date shown on the image.  This was after the Farrier had been modernized as a pub but before the interior had been radically altered to create an admittedly great ‘restaurant with a bar’.

If you succeed in badly hurting a police dog, you’d better watch out for it’s handler!

This is a story with a happy ending. German Shepherd police dog and his handler PC Dave Wardell were both stabbed five months ago while apprehending an armed robber.

All I can say is that of the many police dog handlers I knew and worked with, I know exactly how they would respond if somebody badly hurt their dog, and it wouldn’t be pretty! 😀

Read the story here.

All about Carleton Hall – Cumbria Police H.Q.

History

The ‘mesne manor’ of Carleton Hall, one mile south-east of Penrith, was “formerly the residence of the ancient family of the Carletons, who appear to have been settled here from soon after the time of the conquest, until the failure of male issue by the death of Robert Carleton, Esq., in 1707.”[1]  This occurred after seven successive generations of Thomas Carletons as the ‘man of the house’, and the Hall was then purchased by John Pattinson of Penrith, attorney-at-law.[2]

The south east side of Carleton Hall, Cumbria Police Headquarters, at Penrith. Strictly copyright, 1979, Eddie Wren. All rights reserved.

In 1828, Thomas Lord Wallace sold the hall and manor to John Cowper, Esq.  “The grounds and walks owe many of their attractions to the correct taste of Mrs Wallace, widow of James Wallace, Esq., His Majesty’s Attorney-General, and mother of the above-named Lord Wallace.  That lady succeeded in rendering Carleton one of the most beautiful spots in this part of England…”[1]

During the first half of the twentieth century it was the home of the Carleton-Cowper family.

The Grade II* Listed Building is described as early 18th Century, with alterations made later that century.  It was restored in 1859 and partly rebuilt in 1937.[3]

The name ‘Carleton’ originates from the Old English words ‘ceorl, ‘carle’ or ‘charle’, which mean ‘farmer’ or ‘free peasant’, plus ‘tūn’ a ‘vill’ or ‘settlement’. The meaning is therefore: ‘settlement of farmers’, as a result of which prolific originations the place names and surnames of Carlton, Carleton and Charlton are quite common in England.[4]

During the war years of 1940-43 the hall was occupied by the Furze Close School and from 1943-46 it was a military hospital.

Police Years

In May, 1950, the hall was occupied by the Cumberland and Westmorland Constabulary, forerunner of the Cumbria Constabulary which in turn came into existence when the modern, non-metropolitan county of Cumbria was created in May 1974, at which time both entities absorbed small areas from North Yorkshire (the Sedbergh area) and Lancashire (the South Lakes and Furness). Cumbria is the second-largest county in England, at 2613 sq.ml. (6,767 sq.km.).

An intake of cadets on the south east steps of Carleton Hall Police H.Q. in the late 1970s, Photo copyright, Eddie Wren, 1979. All rights reserved.

Related old buildings nearby which used to be the stables, carriage houses, etc., frame three sides of a courtyard which during police years has been known as the ‘traffic yard’, where the vehicle repair garages are located.  The rest of the police headquarters consists of modern buildings of various ages.

Recollections

Steve Shearwater:  When I was stationed at H.Q. Traffic (nowadays known as the Roads Policing Unit), back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the main entrance foyer  of the old building at Carleton Hall was still lined with large, grand oil paintings, with eyes that — according to several of my former ‘control room’ colleagues who like myself used to do security checks through the hall at all hours of night — would “follow you around,” always seeming to be looking at you wherever you walked.  Given that the only illumination, by necessity for security checks, was a small flashlight, the autonomous, random creaking of ancient floorboards and the legend of the ‘grey lady’ ghost added to the experience!  I presume that the oil paintings and the grey lady are all still there.

Specifically on the subject of the ghost, Gordon Mackenzie fascinatingly writes: “I would be about 7 or 8, so maybe 1965/6, my dad [the headquarters caretaker] had a workshop in the cellar of Carleton Hall next to the Armoury and which was eventually used to store weapons in about the 1970’s.  We used to live in one of the cottages which became the printing Dept in 1977 and I used to go and see the old man at night in his workshop, no security in those days.  I asked him one day about the ghost.  My Dad was very private and we had a struggle to get anything out of him about his childhood and war service, but this night he opened up to me about the ‘grey lady’. He said that he saw her on several occasions and not to be scared of her, and that she had a friendly face and was a guardian of Carleton Hall. She was searching for her baby daughter that her husband had killed in a fit of anger because he wanted a son and heir! The old man never spoke about the ‘grey lady’ again and would not repeat what he said to me, he denied it.   A long time ago but one of those moments in my life that I will never forget.   Carleton Hall can be a bit spooky to some but we never felt anything like that, I suppose we were used to it having grown up there.”

In this context, Heather Thompson has mentioned that some of the staff in the Admin. Dept., located in the actual Hall, hated working overtime because when it was time to leave they found the deserted building creepy.

Steve Shearwater

More recollections from serving/retired police officers and staff about any suitable H.Q. topics would be very welcome for inclusion on this page (side-issue pages can easily be added). Please post any pertinent, non-controversial comments in the ‘Replies’ box, below, and if possible perhaps also send digitised images for inclusion (all info & images will be credited to the sender).

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Sources

  1. The history and antiquities of Cumberland: with biographical notices and memoirs, 1840, by Samuel Jefferson, Vol. 1; pages 93-4.
  2. The history and antiquities of the counties of Westmorland and Cumberland, Vol. 2; pages 403-4.
  3. British Listed Buildings
  4. Wikipedia

Acknowledgements (other than those mentioned in the actual article, above):

  • Mark Jenkins