For the many devotees of police work, or those just interested in the changing social history, this is a great museum combining displays of the the evolution of policing with many interactive and hands on exhibits. The Greater Manchester Police Museum is a former police station converted into a museum and archives detailing the history of the policing in Greater Manchester. It was home to Manchester City Police then its successors Manchester and Salford Police and Greater Manchester Police from 1879 until 1979. Collections include the history of the police uniform. In Manchester in the early 19th century the Watchmen who patrolled the streets of the township at night, were equipped with lantern, truncheon and alarm rattle and wore a low crowned hat with a yellow band and a great coat, (nicknamed at the time a “great tog”), upon which, each night, his number would be painted in ochre. During the day, there was a small police force comprising Beadles, Lock Up Keepers and what were colloquially known as Runners, under the command of the Deputy Constable. They wore a brown uniform, with red collar patches. The Lock Up Keepers, who supervised the small lock-up cells around the town and carried out investigations, were distinguished with the letters “LK” on their collar patches. Other collections in the 'Background' section include the 'Special Constable' and 'Women in Policing'. The first women employed by the police were known as Police Matrons, they were civilians appointed to search, supervise and escort women prisoners held at police stations or the courts, and to prepare female bodies brought in to police station mortuaries for examination by the police surgeon. The Metropolitan Police employed their first two Matrons in 1883, and by the 1890s we have evidence of them in the Manchester police. Very often Matrons were the wives of serving police officers.
There is a comprehensive section on police transport, including the Morris van and the 3.8 Jaguar. The major police stations of the Victorian era are all displayed and there is a fascinating section on 'Policing in Wartime'. There was a distinctly different flavour to policing in those times. Peelers were recruited primarily on their ability to obey orders and deal with violent offenders. Birmingham police summed up the qualities they needed in a recruit in the only three questions allegedly asked at the interview – can you read, can you write, can you fight? Indeed one Manchester officer actually joined the force because he kept getting into fights with the police on Saturday nights. In desperation they said to him: “Why not join the police – you will get regular pay and the guarantee of a fight on Saturdays”. Needless to say he joined at once! Duties were long and monotonous. In the early years there were no detective officers – the public were so afraid of police officers going around in ordinary clothes and spying on people that Peelers were obliged to wear their uniforms at all times, on or off duty – a duty band was worn on the sleeve to show that they were on duty. Shifts were usually 8 or 10 hours in length, and comprised foot patrol. Officers would walk an estimated 20 miles in a shift. The museum is wheelchair accessible. The private tours can be tailored to suit the requirements of the participants.
Location : 57a Newton Street, Manchester M1 1ET.
Transport: Manchester Victoria (National Rail) then bus. Bus routes 24, 216, 217 and 231 stop nearby.
Opening Times: Tuesday 10:30 to 15:30 Tours Monday, Wednesday, Friday by arrangement
Tickets: Free (Donations Welcome)
Tel: 0161 856 4500