Think of Victorian policing and you’d probably picture officers as stern-faced individuals with little compassion.
But a new book by a Huddersfield author shows they had a softer side.
Victorian Policing by Gaynor Haliday from Brockholes includes several references to the Huddersfield Borough Force and the West Riding Constabulary - which covered areas such as Golcar and Holmfirth - in the 19th century.
Extracts in the book from the Huddersfield Chronicle include an:
1868 report on a prize fight that took place near Dunford Bridge in February which resulted in 20 constables being pelted with stones.
1870s statistics for assaults on Huddersfield police.
1872 a serious assault on a policeman at a pub at Clough Head near Golcar. Pc Benjamin Grayson was attacked by a man called Bradley Newton while the constable was inspecting public houses.
1879 report by the chief constable on how they were trying to rehabilitate offenders.
But it was not all doom and gloom as there were some amazing fundraising events by Huddersfield Police to raise money for the Infirmary in 1876 and a new horse drawn ambulance built by Rippon Bros in Huddersfield in 1896.
As well as fostering good relationships between different forces, sporting events could be fundraisers to benefit good causes. The police in Huddersfield hosted a charity match against the Nottinghamshire Constabulary to raise funds for Huddersfield Infirmary in July 1876.
Huddersfield borough police force excelled themselves in fundraising again in January and April 1896 when their rugby team twice took on a team called the ‘Old Fossils’ to raise money for the first horse ambulance in the borough. The sum required was around £170 (£19,000) as the ambulance was grander than most.
Built by the Huddersfield firm of prestigious carriage-makers Rippon Bros, the new ambulance was described as being built of well-seasoned Newfoundland birch and dark American walnut with mouldings of English ash from the nearby Bretton Hall estate. It featured the Huddersfield coat of arms on both sides.
The book also reveals how two men born in Almondbury and Holmfirth rose through the ranks to be at the head of the West Riding force.
Generally, the book highlights how professional police forces were established to prevent Victorian Britain descending into chaos and is a compelling insight into the difficulties of life for the very visible Victorian bobby on the beat.
It also explores the various Acts that eventually brought improvements to the working conditions of the police and is illustrated with original photographs and documents.
Gaynor became fascinated with the history of the early police forces when researching the life of her great, great grandfather, a well-regarded Victorian police constable in Bradford. A citation indicated that his style of policing was merely to cuff the offender round the ear and send him home but press reports of the time painted a much grimmer picture of life on the beat in the Victorian streets.
Gaynor reveals how brave souls trying to uphold Victorian law, with only a truncheon for defence, became the pioneers of modern policing.