Coleford Police Station
Before being moved to Copplestone during the 1920s, Coleford had its constable for over 60 years.
Initially, when the Devon Constabulary underwent a significant overhaul in 1856, a guideline was introduced whereby a constable would be provided to look after an area based on acreage and population. This resulted in most parishes gaining the services of a constable. Jesse Snell, a shoemaker from Kilmington, was Colebrooke’s first PC and c1860 was living at Colebrooke with his family.
He stayed for about four years before being posted to Sandford, where his wife died, and he returned to being a shoemaker again. His replacement, based in Coleford this time, was PC Wadland who had married a Colebrooke girl. He resided in a part of what is now Spencer House which became known as the “Police House”. At that time the “Spencers block” consisted of four cottages. It appears that at that time, four years was the average period that a constable would stay before being transferred. During the 1880s there was a period when unmarried constables were employed. The Police House was given up, and constables would lodge with householders. My grandmother’s auntie, recently widowed farmers wife Sarah Ford came to live at Corner Cottage with her daughter Penelope and provided this service. Around 1890 young PC Gilbert became Coleford’s newest constable and was to prove a popular member of the community, especially as far as Penelope was concerned! There was a hastily arranged marriage, and PC Gilbert was transferred to Bicton with his new wife where their son was born shortly after! This proved to be the end of the short term experiment of constables in lodgings. The Police House at Spencers having become available again was soon occupied by PC Charlie Hurrell and his family who was followed temporarily in 1901 by PC John Hulland and family.
Then came ex Coldstream Guardsman PC Henry Tancock who was a resident policeman in the village when my father and his sisters were children and was remembered as a firm but kindly man respected by old and young alike. He stayed until near the end of WW1 when the “Police House” was moved to Browns Cottage at the bottom of the village now the northern end of Burnhills. Eventually, after two more constables had arrived and departed in quick succession PC Edward Nicholls came in 1924 stayed 12 months and was moved to the police house with telephone which had been provided at Copplestone, thus ending the days of the “Coleford Copper.”
© Neville Enderson