Inverness Burgh Police 11th May 1949
1,000 views on 3rd October 2013
I already have a copy of this photograph on Flickr at www.flickr.com/photos/conner395/2300478563/ -
but that one had been cropped (not by me) and so it did not have the date on it.
Now that I have a decent copy (undamaged and complete) of the photo, and know the reason it was taken, I felt it justified a new entry here on Flickr.
The reason for its being taken was the last day of Mr Meldrum as Chief Constable of the force. On Wednesday 11th May 1949, once this photo parade had dispersed, he would thereafter clear his desk in the Burgh Police Station at Castle Wynd in Inverness, and prepare to remove to Forfar, to take on the post of Chief Constable of the Angus Constabulary on Monday 16th May.
Mr Meldrum's career details are recorded here:
To Mr Meldrum’s right is Inspector (and Deputy Chief Constable) William Paterson, who would take charge of the Burgh force until he was appointed its next Chief constable the following March.
This photograph is remarkable for two reasons.
Firstly it is NOT taken in Inverness Burgh. It was taken outside the front entrance of the North Tower of Inverness Castle. The Castle Hill (and its Castle) was an exclave of Inverness-shire lying within the boundaries of the royal Burgh of Inverness, and was the Headquarters of Inverness County Council, but more especially it was home to the Inverness-shire Constabulary. This very location was where the County force would subsequently take its own group photographs of courses and the like, at least in the era of Chief Constable McClure (1963 onwards) but by that time the half-moon window above the door would contain the painted lettering
One wonders if this photograph would still have been taken here if that sign was then in place, and if so what efforts would have been taken to prevent its appearance in the photo?
Secondly, the strength of the Burgh Police as at 11th May 1949 totalled 40 officers (and a new recruit was already lined up to start on 16th May to make up the numbers following Mr Meldrum's departure) :-
PS: 5 (incl DS)
PI: 3 (including DCC)
On parade in this photograph are precisely 40 officers – the entire force. So who was covering the Burgh? Presumably an amicable arrangement was in place between Mr Meldrum and Chief Constable William Fraser of the County Police. While there was rivalry between the two forces (which continued on in a jocular fashion after merger in 1968 and beyond), there was also a great relationship and mutual respect. There was also the closest of relationship geographically, as the Burgh HQ is just out of shot to the right, down the Castle Hill opposite Inverness Town Hall. Some fifty yards as the crow flies, and less than 100 yards on foot down the Castle Brae.
Of the 39 officers who would remain after Mr Meldrum left, 13 would still be in the job when the Burgh force merged with the County on 16th November 1968, and several were still going strong when yours truly joined that merged force in April 1973. Sandy Allan (sadly missed) was my first Sergeant, and what a brilliant skipper he was. Dick Young – also sadly missed - was Reports Sergeant then (and later my shift Inspector) and I remember visiting him often in his office in the (Temporary!!) Police Station at Farraline Park - and thinking: "why would anybody take on the job of Report Checking?". Guess who ended up doing that from 1995 to 2001, to prepare the force for electronic submission (I helped design the software, so I guess I had no option!)
To my knowledge four officers in the photograph are still with us, all well into their 80s (or higher) now.
So who were the officers, and what became of them after this photo? Here’s the list of all of them, in alphabetical order:-
(where no mention of leaving, they went on to be part of the Inverness Constabulary in 1968, but only promotions pre that merger are listed here)
PC James A AITKEN, joined in May 1944 (from Perth City), promoted to Sergeant 1955, Retired 1964
PC Alexander ALLAN, joined in Oct 1946, promoted to Sergeant 1964,
PC Robert ALLAN, joined in Dec 1946, Left 1963
DC William ARMSTRONG, joined in Nov 1936, promoted to Sgt 1965, Insp 1962, Chief Insp 1965, Retired 1968
PI Ewen CAMERON, joined in Nov 1921, Retired 1955
PC Edward CAMPBELL, joined in Feb 1948, Transferred 1957
DC Noel CAVAYE, joined in May 1936, promoted to Sergeant 1950, Retired 1964
PC William CORMACK, joined in Feb 1948, promoted to Sergeant 1965,
WPC Elizabeth F DAVIS, joined in Feb 1948, Left 1956 (Later joined Inverness-shire)
PC John S FLETT, joined in Jan 1948, Left 1952
PI Alexander FRASER, joined in Dec 1921, Died 1951
PC Alexander GRANT, joined in Jun 1946, promoted to Sergeant 1957, Left 1963
PC David LUMSDEN, joined in Mar 1923, Retired 1949 (see note below)
PS Alasdair LD MACBEAN, joined in May 1935, promoted to Insp 1955, Chief Insp 1963, Retired 1965
PS Alexander MACDONALD, joined in May 1934, promoted to Inspector 1951, Retired 1962
PC Donald G MACDONALD, joined in Jul 1946, promoted to Sergeant 1963,
PS James M MACDONALD, joined in Nov 1935, promoted to Inspector 1957, Retired 1965
PC Aeneas MACKAY, joined in Sep 1946, promoted to Sgt 1962, Inspector 1963
PC Alexander B MACKENZIE, joined in Dec 1945, Left 1955
PC Daniel G MACKENZIE, joined in Sep 1947,
PC Kenneth MACKENZIE, joined in Nov 1946,
PC Andrew F MACKINTOSH, joined in Jun 1946, promoted to Sgt 1962, Inspector 1968
DS Alexander MACLEAN, joined in Jun 1921, promoted to Inspector 1950, Retired 1957
PC William M MACLEAN, joined in May 1948,
PC Alexander J MACLEOD, joined in Nov 1947
PC Christopher M MACPHERSON, joined in Jun 1947
CC Andrew MELDRUM, joined in Jul 1943, Transferred 1949
DCC William PATERSON, joined in Sep 1923, promoted to Chief Cons 1950, Retired 1962
PC Charles W RHIND, joined in Jul 1938, Retired 1964
PC Albert W ROSE, joined in Nov 1946, promoted to Sgt 1963, Inspector 1965
PC William ROSS, joined in Nov 1946, Left 1962
PS Duncan SHAW, joined in Oct 1923, Retired 1949
PC Allan SMITH, joined in Oct 1938, promoted to Sergeant 1951, Retired 1968
PC James HS STILL, joined in Aug 1937, Retired 1963
PC John W STOBIE, joined in May 1947, Transferred 1950
PC Robert SUTHERLAND, joined in Aug 1947,
PC Duncan URQUHART, joined in May 1923, Retired 1955
WPC Mona S URQUHART, joined in Sep 1947, Left 1950
PC William J WATSON, joined in Apr 1933, promoted to Sergeant 1949, Retired 1963
PC Richard C YOUNG, joined in Jun 1948, promoted to Sergeant 1963
Finally, it worth mentioning that in the back row is PC David Lumsden, who retired in 1949 . He served 12 years in the Army, and thereafter 3 and a half years in the Ross & Cromarty Constabulary before transferring to Inverness Burgh. He passed away in 1963.
In 1951 his son Evan joined the Burgh Police and was subsequently promoted to Detective Sergeant. He was a keen member of the Force’s Sub Aqua Team, which was frequently deployed around the Highlands. Tragically on 3rd November 1968, while searching the Caledonian Canal at Corpach, near Fort William for a missing person, Evan and colleague PC Ian Ritchie were both drowned after they were trapped underwater in a canal lock.
God bless them both.