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Watching Over Carlisle

140 Years of the Carlisle City Police Force 1827-1967

Bob Lowther


Early nineteenth century Carlisle – a city which is suffering indescribable poverty; a desperate, starving population with many housed in insanitary sparsely furnished slums, deprived of the necessities of life and dependent upon charitable donations of food and clothing.

The squalor was compounded by an influx of Irish refugees travelling from their own impoverished land looking for a better way of life. Wholesale unemployment was the norm, mainly brought about by the mechanisation of the weaving industry but often exacerbated by harsh weather conditions that prevented outdoor work for weeks on end. Crime was rife, and although much was minor by today’s standards, was classed as intolerable at the time. The West End of Carlisle, the ‘free city’, became a ‘no-go’ area for all but local residents.
Frequent local elections were held in a city where two Members of Parliament stood, but the population were angered that they gained little from the occasion, or the office, and rioting and killing of innocent bystanders caused debate at Westminster. The city, and even the country, were descending into chaos and so, in 1827, Home Secretary Robert Peel intervened by instigating a professional city police force, one of the first in the United Kingdom. ‘Twenty One Stout Men’ under the command of a superintendent and supported by an Act of Parliament were sworn in as constables to be set about the task of restoring and maintaining law and order.
Carlisle Police Force was born and has maintained its comforting presence for the last 140 years.


P3 Publications



Publication Date:

2011 August


210mm x 296mm paperback




Illustrated with colour & black and white photographs