Timeline

Some notable dates from our history.

1676
One of the first references of the railways in the UK: Lord Guilford visits Newcastle and notices how colliers use "rails of timber" to assist horse-drawn wagons from the pit to a nearby river.

1758
The first Railway Act is passed (to authorise a railway to Middleton Colliery near Leeds).

2 July 1798
The Marine Police, the UK’s first organised police force, begin patrolling the River Thames. It is absorbed into the Metropolitan Police in 1839.

1803
The Surrey Iron Railway opens between Wandsworth and Croydon. This is the first public railway sanctioned by Parliament; horses pull its goods wagons.

GWR PC with dog 1876

1807
The Oystermouth Railway, the first passenger railway, is opened in Swansea Bay. Its carriages are horse drawn.
 
1822
In possibly the first railway related crime, William James, an engineer employed by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway is assaulted while surveying the line.

27 September 1825
The Stockton and Darlington Railway, the first steam-hauled railway, is formally opened.

30 June 1826
The first mention of railway police anywhere is made in a regulation of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, three years before the Metropolitan Police Act is passed.

15 September 1830
The Liverpool to Manchester Railway is opened by the Duke of Wellington. The event was marred by the death of the Rt. Hon William Huskisson, the local MP, who fell under an engine. He was the first person to be killed by a train.

22 November 1830
Minutes of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway refer to their "Police Establishment".

31 May 1835
The Great Western Railway Police is formed. The officer in charge, a superintendent based at Paddington, has 707 men under his command.
 
8 February 1836
A section of the London to Greenwich Railway is opened between Deptford and Bermondsey. This is the first railway in London.

21 March 1838
The first section of the London to Southampton Railway is opened. A later account states: "Policemen were more numerous than any other class of (railway) servant; they acted as signalmen and ticket collectors and were stationed at regular intervals along the line. Their uniforms consisted of a swallow-tail coat, dark trousers and a tall hat with a leather crown."

 

1840
The Regulation of Railways Act is passed. It includes the offences of railway staff being drunk on duty, impeding or obstructing engines and endangering the safety of persons on the railway.

March 1841
James Thompson is convicted of "holding Miss Emily Stacey in an improper manner" while on the London and Greenwich Line. This is one of the first records of a sex offence on the railway.

1 January 1845
Sgt William Williams of GWR Police becomes the first person to make an arrest using technology. Alerted by a telegraph message sent from Slough, he arrested John Tawell after he stepped off a train at Paddington. Tawell had murdered a girl at Slough.

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