The Greater Manchester Police Museum is a wonderful Museum, exploring the policing of Manchester right back to the 1800s. Its set in an old police station, Newton Street Police Station, which was built in the 1870s, and where you can still see the original charge office, cells, and an 1895 courtroom which was brought over from Denton Police Station.
I didn’t really leave enough time to visit this – i got there just after 2pm, and they close between 3 and 3.30pm, which is a pity (ignore the clock on the wall in the photograph below – its stopped). I will have to return there another day anyway, because half way through my visit my camera ran out of juice. argh! Note to self: next time, charge the camera before you go out..!!!
The charge office, as it was when first built in 1879. This is where criminals were first brought when they were brought into the police station.
Its a wonderful place to visit – especially for children, as its the kind of place that will really capture their imagination (in fact, there was a party of schoolchildren going around when i was there). If you’re ever in Manchester with nothing to do on a Tuesday, then its well worth popping along to this – its near to Piccadilly Gardens, and it doesn’t cost a penny. More photos behind the cut!
The Charge Sergeant's Desk - with an array of policing tools, from a couple of truncheons for defence, to the whistle or the clacker to call for help, through to the obligatory handcuffs and a notepad...
Another desk where a police officer would've worked, perhaps writing up case notes for his Sergeant
Although the station was built in 1879, it remained in use till the early 1970s, and as such, many of the fixtures and fittings - like this tap - date from that period.
There were many photographs on the wall of the cell corridor. Although i photographed them all, some came out much better than others. This is one of the better set - a long montage of various scenes from around Manchester. This particular one shows what would've been a working class area, if not a slum - Pearson's Court, in around 1908. I don't think this street exists any more.
Newgates, Corporation Street, Manchester, c.1908. This area almost certainly doesn't exist any more either, as Corporation Street is in the heart of Manchester's shopping area.
Eagle Street, Smithfield Market, Manchester, c.1907. This doesn't exist any more, either, although there is a New Smithfield Market - funnily enough, not far from where we live now.
No.40 Deansgate, Near Bridge Street, Manchester, c.1870. Again, this area is in the heart, now, of Manchester's shopping community so this building has almost certainly gone.
The toilet cisterns from the cell block toilets were all outside the cells, under the control of the reserve officer (who looked after the criminals in their cells). This was for security purposes.
A cell, with a penitant looking out (no, not Michiel, although the model does look *strangely* like James May off "Top Gear" in the accompanying leaflet...).
A camera that was originally used to take photographs of the prisoners - many of which ended up on the walls of the museum. One of the museum attendants remarked that children who come to visit often can't believe that this huge thing is the ancestor of the little digital camera that they're often carrying with them.
Photographic equipment - flashes n the like - used to photograph criminals.
Ball, Chain and Leg Irons. These were used to transport prisoners to court as late as the turn of the 20th Century.
"The Iron child of Belle Vue Prison". This was probably a table leg or something, but it was made of cast iron. Prisoners at Belle Vue Prison would be made the carry the extremely heavy (34 pounds) thing around the prison yard as a means of punishment. The prison was in operation from 1850 to the late 1880s.
Birching Rod. This was a popular form of punishment for boys up to the age of 16 during the 19th Century, with the size of rod prescribed for boys over 10 years as 40 inches long, under 10 years as 34 inches long. Crimes such as stealing, assault and vagrancy would merit six strokes of the birch.
The Birching Stool. This is the original birching stool from Minshull Street Courts in Manchester - the boy would've stood with his legs either side of the piece nearest the camera, leaning over the stool to present his back to the police officer administering the punishment. It's believed a pad would've protected the boy's lower back. A doctor was always present to attend to the boy's injuries afterwards. This was a very common punishment around the turn of the 20th Century - 3,385 carried out in England and Wales in 1900. This figure had dropped to 161 in 1936, and was finally abolished in 1948.
Leather wrist straps used at Strangeways Prison in 1937
A Victorian forced feeder. The funnel would be inserted into the prisoner's mouth, the straps going around the head. Food would then be spooned into the funnel.
Another Birching Rod, from Rochdale in the 19th Century
Cell No 2. There are four cells in this police station. the others have been given over to displays, but this was left as it would've been when the policestation was in service - the beds were built in 1879. Although intended for 2 men, it wasn't unheard of for the cells to be housing 12 at weekends. They last saw service in the early 1970s.
Letter from Home Office, dated 29th June, 1912, regarding "Verminous Prisoners", which was hanging in the Reserve Officer's office. Apparently the Police were arresting people who, to put it politely, were often absolutely filthy, and in taking them to court, either in a cab or via the railways were causing offence to the British Public. An Excerpt: "The Secretary of State fully recognizes the difficulty the Police may have when they have occasion to arrest such persons and have no means of cleansing them : and he desires to suggest to you that arrangements should be made by the Police with the Poor Law authorities for the cleansing at workhouses or casual wards of any verminous persons who may be arrested by the Police and who may be brought there for that purpose."
An Ex-policeofficer, modelling a uniform from around the turn of the century to the 1950s. He said when he first joined the force, in the 1950s, he would've worn a very similar uniform - in fact, the chain stretching from the top button to the pocket is his own: it goes to a whistle. We had a lovely long chat about policing, how it was then compared to how it seems to be now. A proper gentleman.
An 1895 Courtroom, originally from Denton Police Station
a display of handcuffs, different styles and ages
a thumbcuff - despite the fact that it screws down onto the thumbs, not a thumbscrew - which is an instrument of torture.