Orsam Books

12 Constables: The Evidence They Tried to Ban

Never before published, here is the full sequence of surviving correspondence relating to the issue of the 12 constables that, remarkably, I wasn't allowed to post on the Casebook Forum:

It all started with an application from the London and North Western Railway to the Board of Customs on 21 February 1888 which resulted in this reply from Richard Prowse, Secretary of the Board of Customs, to the General Manager of that company dated 7 March 1888 (CUST 30/446):

Sir,

I am desired to inform you that the Commissioners of Customs have had under their consideration your letter dated the 21st ultimo, intimating the wish of the Directors of the London and North Western Railway Company to establish a system of through conveyance of baggage from the United States and Canada to London, via Liverpool.

In order to enable the Board to arrive at a decision in this matter, I am to request that they may, in the first instance, be furnished with a statement as to the probable extent of the business which it is thus proposed to transfer from the Liverpool to the London Customs staff.  The points on which information is desired are the following:

1. The frequency of the arrivals of trains with registered Baggage.

2. An approximate estimate of the average number of Passengers and of packages of Baggage which may be expected by each of such trains.

3. The hours within which the trains may be expected in London.

4. Other similar particulars necessary to enable the Board to form an estimate of the number of officers that may be required to be assigned for meeting the proposed arrangement.

I am,
Sir,
Your obedient Servant,

[Signed, R.T. Prowse] 

The railway company replied on 14 March and A further letter was sent to that company by the Board of Customs on 22 March 1888 (CUST 30/446):

Sir,

I am desired by the Board of Customs to acknowledge the receipt of your further letter of the 14th instant, F478/143, relative to the proposal of the London and North Western Railway Company to establish a system of through conveyance of baggage from the United States and Canada to London, via Liverpool; and to state that a further communication on the subject will be made to you in due course.

I am,
Sir,
Your obedient Servant,

With respect to the involvement of the Home Office, this started with a letter from Richard Prowse, Secretary of the Board of Customs, to the Home Office on 22 March 1888 (HO 45/9686/A48584):

Sir,

I am desired to acquaint you, for the information of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, that the Board of Customs have under their consideration an application from the London and North Western Railway Company requesting that the Baggage of Passengers arriving at Liverpool from America and proceeding over that company's line to London may, if registered for London, be sent thither from Liverpool, in locked vans and undergo the requisite customs examination at the Euston Square Terminus in London; and that there is reason to believe that an application to the same effect will be received from the Midland Railway Company with respect to the Baggage of Passengers from America who may come to London by that company's line to St Pancras Terminus.

So far as this Department is concerned, the Board think it may be possible to meet the wishes of these companies, under arrangements similar to those by which the examination of registered Baggage from the continent, via Folkestone and Dover, is now, and has for many years been, allowed to be examined at the Charing Cross and Victoria Termini, in place of at the Ports of arrival, but before giving a definite reply to that effect the Board think it right to consult the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the subject, in view of the frequent correspondence (of which the letters from this Department of the 13th ultimo No.2732/1888 and the 17th instant No. 8294/1888, are recent instances) between the Home Office and the Customs, as to the possibility of the introduction into the United Kingdom by means of Passengers’ Baggage, and especially of the Baggage of Passengers from America, of articles of a dangerous or explosive character.

I am to add that the measure of the degree of risk on these accounts, as between Baggage from the near Continental Ports under present arrangements, and that from American Ports under proposed arrangements, would appear to turn:

(1) On the greater length of the Railway journey from Liverpool to London as compared with the journey from Folkestone or Dover to London.

(2) On the probability that Passengers from America would bring a larger number of packages, per Passenger, than those coming from the near Continental Ports.

I am,
Sir,
Your obedient servant,

[Signed R.T. Prowse] 

This letter was forwarded by the Home Office to Assistant Commissioner James Monro at Scotland Yard who wrote to the Under Secretary of State at the Home Office on 2 April 1888 (HO 45/9686/A48584) as follows (the square brackets, other than in respect of Monro's signature, are in the original):

Sir,
 
With reference to your Correspondence No. A48584 herewith returned, - I have the honour to acquaint you in reply, that so far as Police action in connection with the importation of Explosives is concerned, I hardly think the system would be worth the expense to which it would lead. If it was considered necessary that Police should be present [as in the case of the Continental Trains] - at the examination of baggage, this could not be effected without employing a considerable number of Constables, owing to the large passenger traffic at different railway termini.

I do not think that the results likely to follow from the adoption of the system would justify me in recommending such expense to be incurred.

I have the honour to be,
Sir,
Your obedient servant,

[Signed: J. Monro] 

Following Monro's rejection of the idea, on 20 April 1888 Edward Leigh Pemberton at the Home Office wrote to the Secretary of the Board of Customs as follows (HO 45/9686/A48584): 

Sir,

I am directed by the Secretary of State to inform you that he has had under his careful consideration your letter of the 22nd ultimo, No. 8484, as to the application for the examination at London of the baggage of passengers arriving at Liverpool from America and proceeding by the London and North Western Railway to the Euston Square terminus; and that having conferred with Mr. Monro on the subject he sees strong objections to the arrangement proposed by the Railway Company.

I am,

Sir,
Your obedient servant,

[Signed: E. Leigh Pemberton] 

Following receipt of the negative letter from the Home Office of 20 April, Richard Prowse of the Board of Customs wrote to the General Manager of the London & North Western Railway at Euston Station on 24 April 1888 (HO 45/9686/A48584):

Sir,

With reference to the letter from this Department of the 22nd ultimo and previous correspondence on the subject of the proposal of the London and North Western Railway Company to establish a system of through conveyance of baggage from the United States and Canada to London via Liverpool, I am directed by the Board of Customs to acquaint you that they deemed it necessary to consult the Secretary of State for the Home Department in relation to the proposed change and that they have now received a reply to the effect that strong objections to the arrangement are entertained by the Chief Officers of the Detective Police. Under these circumstances no further steps can be taken in the matter.

I am,
Sir,
Your obedient servant,

[Signed: R.T. Prowse]

The issue came back to life in the summer of 1888 as a result of a letter from the Inman International Steam Ship Co. Ltd, based in Liverpool, to Charles B. Stuart-Wortley at the Home Office, dated 22 June 1888: (HO 45/9686/A48584):

Dear Sir,

Through booking of American Baggage for examination in London

Referring to the interview I had with you last week at the House of Commons through the intervention of Sir Edward Hamley, I now as requested, put before you some of the reasons for such an arrangement.

1st. We have to compete against the opposition of the very fine steamers of the French Translantique Company, which run between New York and Havre, and by these steamers Passengers can check their Baggage through from New York to Paris.

2nd. The competition of the fast steamers of the North German Lloyds Company, who run semi-weekly is very great, and they have the special advantage of four tides daily at Southampton against only two at Liverpool. Both of these Companies are believed to have strong financial aid in subsidies or otherwise from the governments of their respective companies.

The 1st class passenger travel is increasing yearly, but passengers are now calculating certainly the hours and almost the minutes occupied in reaching either London or Paris.  As it is many American Passengers now go by the above and other Lines direct to the Continent, and then send a number of their trunks to England by the Channel steamers to be stored till they arrive, the consequence being that the English Transatlantic steamers and English Railways lose the half of their travel, and there are a number who do not come to England at all in consequence of the very rigid examination to which their Baggage is subjected.

With a system of Through Booking of Passengers and Baggage from New York to London the former would at once be taken in special conveyances to the Railway station, and their Baggage in vans accompanied by Customs officials (for whom we should pay) and immediately transferred to locked Crown vans, and the train at once start.

This would relieve the great pressure and enable the other Passengers destined for other parts of England or Scotland to have their Baggage more quickly passed and their journey thus be expedited.  I may point out that frequently three hours are occupied in the examination of Baggage from a steamer arriving with a large number of cabin passengers.  This is a very serious matter in view of the heavy cost of running the fast steamers now building in order to lessen the voyage by a few hours, and it will be the more apparent to you when I say that one knot extra in speed per hour from New York to Liverpool only means a saving of about eight hours on the time occupied by the fastest existing steamer.

As regards extra expense incurred for Police supervision in London, I can confidently say this will be met by the Railway or Steam Companies if required by the Government, and on the point raised on this head by you that difficulties would arise through the Police being engaged by one party and practically paid by another, I would point out that for years under the approval of the Home Department, the Chief Constable of Liverpool, under the Watch Committee of the Corporation engages and pays all the Policemen for the City and the Docks, and the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board refunds the cost of nearly 350 of these Policemen to the Corporation.

The matter does not even end there, for the Dock Board will specially allocate to any Company one of these officers to watch the Berth of that Company on their agreeing to pay them a specific sum per annum for the cost of such officer; and further if any vessel wants to work at night, or use lights for repairs, a special application has to be made to the Harbour Master, and an agreement signed to pay the Dock Board so much per hour for the attendance of a Policeman.

Then as to the fear of Dynamite, I feel certain you will see there can be no greater risk of accident etc. on the Railway to London than had already been run on board the ocean steamer.

I would ask for your most favourable consideration, and feel sure that if you point out any further difficulties every endeavour will be made by the Steam and Railway Companies to surmount them.

Should you wish any further information on hearing from you I will at once endeavour to procure it.

Believe me to be

Yours faithfully

[Signed: Edmund Taylor]

The Home Office contacted James Monro for his views, and Monro replied on 2 July 1888 (HO 45/9686/A48584):  

Sir,

The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis has to acknowledge the receipt of your correspondence No. A48584/4 herewith returned, - and in reply to acquaint you that the matter from a Police point of view is one of expense, as already stated.  What such expense would be I cannot state until the proposed arrangements – not merely for one, but all companies – are scrutinized.

On the other questions raised in the letter of the Inman Company, I can hardly offer an opinion.

I have the honour to be,

Sir,

Your obedient servant,

[Signed: J.Monro]             

The Home Office then wrote to the HM Inspector of Constabulary (Col C.G. Legge) on 6 July 1888 (HO 65/61):

Sir,

I am directed by the Secretary of State to forward to you a copy of a letter from the Inman and International Steam Ship Company giving reasons in favour of the adoption of an arrangement which is being pressed on the Secretary of State whereby baggage from America sent via Liverpool to London would be booked through and examined in London instead of at Liverpool, as now.

I am to desire that you will be so good as to inform the Secretary of State what is the number of men whom it is found necessary to employ at Liverpool on duty in examining baggage under existing arrangements and what is the cost of their employment.

I am also to ask you to be so good as to report as to the financial arrangements between the Dock or Harbour Board and the Watch Committee for meeting that cost.

I am etc.

[signed C. Stuart Wortley] 

The reply from from HM Inspector of Constabulary (C.G. Legge) to the Home Office was dated 11 July 1888 (HO 45/9686/A48584):

Sir,

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter A48584/5 of 6th inst. and to inform you in reply that I am informed by the Head Constable of Liverpool that no Police are employed in examining baggage sent to London via Liverpool from America. The baggage is examined by the Customs Officers and the “badge porters” assist passengers in opening packages. On very busy days the Inspector and two P.C.s (whose duty it is to supervise the badge porters) may also lend a hand. Capt. Bower adds that the only other examination ever undertaken by the Police is when such is necessary for detective purposes and this is of course only intermittent.

I have the honour to be
Sir
Your obedient servant

[Signed: G. Legge]

HM Inspector of Constabulary

The Home Office replied to Legge on 19 July 1888 (HO 65/61):  

Sir,

With reference to your letter of the 11th instant as to the employment of Police in examining baggage at Liverpool I am directed by the Secretary of State to say that he will be obliged if you will inform him whether it is found necessary to require the attendance at such examination of any Police besides the Inspector and 2 Constables mentioned by you, i.e. whether the proposed examination of luggage at London instead of at Liverpool would make any difference in the numbers of men required at the latter place.  He would further be glad to know whether any arrangement exists between the Watch Committee and the Dock or Harbour Board as to the services of the Police in attendance under present arrangements what is the cost of their savings and loss.

I remain etc.

[Signed: Godfrey Lushington]

Legge replied to the Home Office on 22 July 1888 (HO 45/9686/A48584):  

Sir,

In reply to your letter of A48584/6 of 19th inst. I have the honour to inform you that the Head Constable of Liverpool reports that “it is not found necessary for any police to attend the examination of luggage (not even the Inspector & 2 P.C.s, who may or may not be present but who have no duty or responsibility with regard to the examination), consequently the proposed examination in London instead of here can in no way affect the numbers of the Liverpool Force, and there is of course no arrangement with the Dock Board for the simple reason that no police are employed who would not be there quite irrespective of the examination.”

I have the honour to be
Sir
Your obedient servant

[Signed: G. Legge]

HM Inspector of Constabulary

The Home Office wrote to the Irish Office on 31 July to ask what number if any of the Royal Irish Constabulary assist in examination of baggage at Liverpool and if the proposed change would make any difference in numbers employed.  The Irish Office replied to Home Office 6 August 1888 (HO 45/9686/A48584):

Sir,

I am directed by the Lord Lieutenant to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 31st ulto A48584/7 relative to the application from the Inman and International Steam Ship Company (Limited) that American Baggage booked through to London may be examined there instead of at Liverpool, and in reply I am to acquaint you, for the information of Mr. Secretary Matthews that officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary at present attend at the examination of luggage at Liverpool, but take no part in the actual search.

I am to add that there appears to be no objection to the proposed change, but His Excellency presumes that arrangements will be made with the London Police to look after the searching on arrival there, as the Royal Irish Constabulary do not attend in London.

I am,
Sir,
Your obedient servant

[Signed: West Ridgeway]

Having carried out its inquiries, the Home Office then wrote to the Inman International Steam Ship Co. Ltd on 13 August 1888 (HO 65/61):

Sir,

With reference to your letter of the 22nd June last, I am directed by the Secretary of State to inform you that he is willing to give full consideration to the grounds urged by the Inman and International Steam Ship Company in favour of their proposal that the baggage of passengers from America to London should be examined by the Customs Officers under Police supervision at the Metropolitan Railway termini instead of at Liverpool.

In order, however, to enable him to do so, Mr. Secretary Matthews would be glad to have before him full particulars of the detailed arrangements which the Inman and other Steam Ship Companies would propose to make with the various Railway Companies for the examination in London of baggage other than hand-baggage and parcels which must continue to be examined at Liverpool, and he would also wish to know, what notice could and would be given to the Police authorities of the arrival of the locked vans in which it is understood that the baggage would be conveyed from Liverpool to London so that an opinion may be formed of the number of Police Constables etc. who would be required.

I am accordingly to request that information on these points may be furnished.

I am,
Sir,
Your obedient servant

The Inman International Steam Ship Co. Ltd wrote to Godfrey Lushington at the Home Office on 25 August 1888 (HO 45/9686/A48584): 

Sir,

I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your official letter A48584/8 dated 13th Instant, and I think the most satisfactory mode will be for me to explain under various heads what it is proposed to do.

1st. Arrangement with Railway Companies:

It is proposed that Passengers shall be allowed to check their Baggage through from New York to London, and if on arrival at Liverpool they are landed by Tender at Prince’s Landing Stage such checked Baggage shall at once be carried direct into carts, approved by the Board of Customs, and conveyed in charge of Customs Officials direct to Lime Street Station of the London and North Western Railway Company. Or when the passengers and Baggage are landed at Langton or Alexandra Docks, it may occasionally be more convenient to send a Special Train from that Company’s Alexandra Dock Station; and on arrival at either of these stations the luggage shall be placed, still under the supervision of the Customs Officers, in vans which shall be fastened with Customs Locks. (The small hand bags brought by passengers would be examined in Liverpool, and the passengers with these small pieces of Baggage at once conveyed in omnibuses, or cabs, to the station).  These vans would be attached to the carriages in which the passengers would travel direct to Euston Station London.

It is most probable that the Midland Railway Company will ask a similar privilege; and in that case the mode of procedure would be the same.

Preliminary notice could be given of probable time of arrival when the steamer was reported from Brow Head, or Queenstown, and followed up by a telegram announcing the departure of the train, which would take about 4 and a half hours to reach Euston.

We should endeavour to give the number of passengers, and pieces of Baggage in the telegram, so that ample arrangements could be made by the Customs officials, and the Police authorities.

I understand that the London and North Western Railway Company has been in communication with the Customs authorities, as to providing accommodation for the proper examination of the Baggage at Euston Station; and have undertaken to provide whatever is required.

I trust that the above will give all the information desired by the Secretary of State, but should any more details be required I will at once, on hearing from you, endeavour to answer any further queries.

The number of travellers from the United States seems to be increasing year by year, and it is therefore of vast importance to English Steamship Companies to save the passengers as much trouble and annoyance as possible; and I therefore confidently hope that the Secretary of State will approve of what is proposed to be done.

I have the honour to be
Sir,
Your obedient servant,

[Signed: Edmund Taylor]  

The Home Office wrote to Sir Charles Warren on 5 September 1888 (HO 65/62):

Sir,

With reference to your letter of the 2nd July last and previous correspondence regarding the proposal that the through baggage of passengers from America should be examined in London instead of at Liverpool I am directed by the Secretary of State to say that he is anxious in the interest of public convenience to assent to this proposal if satisfactory arrangements for the purpose can be made; and I am to transmit copy of a letter from the Inman and International Steamship Company giving details of the arrangements which they would propose to adopt, and of the provision which they would make for the attendance of the Police; and to request the favour of your observations therein.

I am,
Sir,
Your obedient servant,

[Signed] 

Also on 5 September 1888, the Home Office asked Customs what arrangements were proposed by the London and North Western Railway Company for providing accommodation at Euston and sending them a copy of letter of 25 August asking them for any observations they have to make, together with copy of the letter of 22 June, upon receipt of which the Secretary of State was induced to reopen the question, adding that he was now in communication with the Metropolitan Police upon this. The Board of Customs then wrote to the Home Office on 12 September 1888 (HO 45/9686/A48584):

Sir,

I am directed by the Board of Customs to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated the 5th instant, A48584/10, and to state in reply, for the information of the Secretary of State, that the Board have considered the copies of the letters addressed to your Department by the Inman Steam Ship Company and that so far as the application of the Company is concerned there will be no difficulty on the part of the Board of Customs in making the necessary arrangements for the examination of luggage at the London termini instead of at Liverpool.

The replies sent by the Secretary of State to the Inman Company have not been forwarded to this Department, and the Board are unable to form an opinion as to how far any objections which he may have raised to the proposal could be provided for on their part.

The Board would not conclude any arrangements with the Railway Companies in London, unless suitable accommodation were provided for the examination of baggage, and they did not anticipate any difficulty in this respect from the communications which had passed between this Department and the London and North Western Railway Company previous to the receipt of Mr Pemberton’s letter of the 21st April last, which expressed the strong objections of the Secretary of State to the proposal, and which put an end to further consideration of the best means of carrying it into effect.

I am,
Sir,
Your obedient servant

[Signed] 

Sir Charles Warren replied to the letter from the Under Secretary of State at the Home Office of 5 September in a letter dated 23rd October 1888 ( HO/9686/A48584):

Sir,

With reference to your letter of the 5th ulto, A48584/10, I have to acquaint you, for the information of the Secretary of State, that I have directed the necessary enquiries to be made and have ascertained the particulars as to the number of trains which will arrive at Euston daily with passengers from America, and the hours of their arrival; and as two Police Constables must be present at each examination of luggage, I find it necessary to have three reliefs, thus requiring an augmentation of six Police Constables.

I have therefore to ask for authority for this increase. I should explain, however, that one of the three reliefs will be required to deal with passengers arriving during the night, and until the frequency of such arrivals has been tested only four Constables will be actually appointed under the authority now sought.

The Midland Railway Company will no doubt apply to have similar arrangements made at St Pancras Station, and this will necessitate my seeking a still further increase of six Constables for that duty.

The cost of the augmentation shall be chargeable to the Special Vote.

I am,
Sir,
Your most obedient servant,

[Signed: C. Warren]

The Home Office replied to the Commissioner on 30 October 1888 (HO 465/62):  

Sir,

With reference to your letter of the 23rd instant on the subject of the proposed examination at Euston (and probably also at St. Pancras) of the baggage of passengers from America on their arrival at those stations from Liverpool, I am directed by the Secretary of State to inquire whether, as your letter is marked confidential, you have any objection to the Inman and International Steamship Company being informed that twelve Constables will probably be required to perform the duty at the two stations. The object of such communication is that the Company may be asked what undertaking to meet the expense the Steamship and Railway Companies interested will be prepared to give; and for this purpose I am to ask what would be the cost per annum of the Police Constables so employed.

I am also to request that you will be so good as to state whether there are any forms of undertaking now in use which are applicable or nearly so to the present case, and, if so, to enclose some to be forwarded to the Inman Company.

I am,
Sir,
Your obedient Servant.

Sir Charles Warren responded in an undated letter received by the Home Office on 6 November 1888 (HO 45/9686/A48584):

Sir,

With reference to your letter of the 30th ulto, A48584/12, on the subject of the proposed Police arrangements for the examination in London of the luggage of passengers arriving from America via Liverpool, I have to acquaint you, for the information of the Secretary of State, that I fail to see how the expense so incurred can be properly charged to the Inman Company, who propose the charge.

Apart from the fact that the arrangement will be for the benefit not only of the Inman, but of the Guion and other Companies whose vessels arrive at Liverpool, it is clear that the Police examination (which is quite distinct from the Customs examination, though made at the same time) is made for the special purposes for which the Treasury pay at Ports, and the expense can hardly therefore be a legitimate charge upon private individuals.

It appears to me that the cost should be borne by the Special Vote.  There is no precedent for a demand such as that proposed, and the Statue only allows of private persons on their own application obtaining the services of Constables.

I am,
Sir,
Your most obedient servant,

[Signed: Charles Warren]         

The Home Secretary, Henry Matthews, wrote a minute to his parliamentary under secretary, Charles Stuart Wortley, on 8 November 1888 (HO 45/9686/A48584):

Various ocean steamers desire, for the convenience of their passengers, to obtain the privilege of having luggage examined by Custom House officers in London instead of in Liverpool.  The Customs authorities raise no objection to this. See /1). The objection comes from the police.  The government, for reasons of government safety, make use of the Customs examination in order to ascertain whether luggage from America contains dynamite; and for that purpose officers of the R.I.C. attend at the examination, but take no part in the actual search.  See /8.

If the customs search is transferred to London, the government desire to have the same opportunities of police inspection, as at Liverpool, and it is proposed to perform their service by the instrumentality of the Metropolitan Police.  This service will require additional P.C.s and the question is, who is to pay for them? It is obvious that the Metropolitan ratepayers must not pay.  It is no convenience or advantage to them that the luggage should be examined in London instead of Liverpool. 

There is no very strong reason why the steam companies (or their passengers) should pay: except the reason that a charge is made for their convenience. But they might with equal reason be called upon to pay the expense of the R.I.C. who attend at Liverpool.

It seems to me clear that the government ought to pay the expense of an inspection which is made on grounds of public safety. It might for some reasons be better to employ special agents. 

Stuart Wortley subsequently gave instructions on 10 November 1888 to the Home Office staff (HO 45/9686/A48584):

Draw a letter to the Treasury reciting the proposal made, and the grounds of them, and measures supposed necessary for giving effect to them.  Ask for sanction for payment out of Special Vote. Say nothing about repayment by companies. Embody substance of Secretary of State's minute.

The Under Secretary at the Home Office replied to the Chief Commissioner's letter received on 6 November, on 15 November 1888 (HO 45/9686/A48584):

Sir,

I have laid before the Secretary of State your letter on the subject of the Police arrangements to be made for the examination in London instead of at Liverpool of the luggage of passengers arriving from America, and I am directed in reply to acquaint you that Mr. Matthews concurs with the view you have expressed that the cost of the arrangement should not be charged to the Steamship and Railway Companies at whose wish it is to be made but should be defrayed by the government.

The Secretary of State observes that in the existing state of affairs the expense of the augmentation required, which you estimate will be, when the arrangement is in full working at both Euston and St. Pancras Stations, twelve constables, can be safely charged to the Special Vote a saving on which is expected, and I can convey to you the Secretary of State’s authority for a temporary augmentation, at the maximum of that number.

Unless you see any reason to the contrary, Mr. Matthews proposes to inform the Board of Customs and the Inman Company that steps may at once be taken to carry the new arrangement into effect, and I am to request that you will be so good as to say at your earliest convenience whether such intimation may safely be made.

I am,
Sir,
Your Obedient Servant

[Signed: Godfrey Lushington] 

It was Robert Anderson who replied to this letter, on behalf of the Commissioner, on 17 November 1888 (HO 45/9686/A48584):

Sir,

With reference to your letter of the 15th instant on the subject of the Police arrangements to be made for the examination in London instead of at Liverpool of the luggage of passengers arriving from America, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis has to acquaint you, for the information of the Secretary of State, that there is no objection on the part of the Police to the Board of Customs and the Inman Company being informed as proposed in your letter; but the company should be asked to give the Police as long notice as possible of their giving effect to the new system.

I am,
Sir,
Your most obedient servant,

[Signed R. Anderson]

Assistant Commissioner

Then we have the now well known letter from Colonel Pearson to the Home Office. It was written in response to a Home Office letter dated 13 November 1888 (HO 65/62) which requested of the Commissioner, 'that with a view to the preparation in this Department of the Special Police estimate for the year 1889-90, you will be so good as to furnish, at your earliest convenience, a statement showing, so far as can be forseen at the present time, how many officers of each rank will probably be employed between the beginning of March 1889 and the end of February 1890 on the following duties (1) Protection of Public Buildings (2) Special Duty at Ports (3) Special duties at Central Office, distinguishing between officers of the ordinary force and officers of the Criminal Investigation Department.'  The reply on behalf of the Commissioner by Colonel Pearson dated 20 November 1888 (HO 144/222/A49500M) was as follows:

Sir,

With reference to your letter of the 13th inst., A49500M, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis has to transmit, for the information of the Secretary of State, the accompanying Return shewing the number of Officers of each rank who will probably be employed at the cost of the special vote between the 1st March, 1889, and the 28th February 1890.

This Return does not take into account the 12 Police Constables who will be required for duty at Euston and St. Pancras Stations for the proposed examination of the luggage of passengers from America.

I am,
Sir,
Your most obedient servant,

[Signed R.L.O. Pearson]


Assistant Commissioner -
For the Commissioner

The Home Office then contacted the Board of Customs on 23 November 1888 (HO 65/63):  
 

Sir

With reference to your letter of the 12th of September and previous correspondence on the subject of the Customs examination at Euston Station (and also, if desired by the Midland Railway Company, at St. Pancras) instead of at Liverpool of the luggage of passengers arriving from America, I am directed by the Secretary of State to acquaint you, for the information of the Board of Customs, that he has withdrawn his objection to the examination at the stations named in place of Liverpool, and that the Commissioner of Police has been instructed, and is prepared, to arrange for a suitable number of Police Officers to be present at such examination so soon as your Board has agreed with the Railway Company or Companies interested as to the date when the new arrangement shall come into operation. I am therefore to request that you will give the earliest practicable notice to the Commissioner of Police of the initiation of the new practice.

The Secretary of State assumes that the examination of hand luggage and parcels will continue to be made at Liverpool, and that the arrangements for the conveyance of the heavy luggage from the docks to the Liverpool Railway Stations and thence to London will be those described in the letter from Mr Taylor of the Inman Company, a copy of which was forwarded to you on the 5th of September.

I am further to enclose a copy of the letter in which the Secretary of State has announced to the Inman and International Steam Ship Company the withdrawal of his objection.

I am,
Sir,
Your obedient servant,

[Signed: C Stuart Wortley]

The enclosed letter from the Home Office to the Inman and International Steamship Company was dated 23 November 1888 and said (HO 65/63):

Sir,

With reference to your letter of the 25th of August last and previous correspondence, I am directed by the Secretary of State to acquaint you that he has no longer any objection to offer to the proposal of the Inman and International Steamship Company that the Customs examination of the luggage of passengers arriving from America should be made at Euston Station, and also if the Midland Railway Company so wish it, at St Pancras instead of at Liverpool. 

As soon as the companies interested and the Board of Customs have agreed on the date when the new arrangement shall come into force, it is requested that sufficient notice may be given to the Secretary of State, and also to the Commissioner of Metropolitan Police who will at once arrange for a suitable number of Police Officers to be present on the arrival of the trains and at the examination of the luggage.

In coming to this decision Mr Matthews assumes that hand baggage and parcels will continue to be examined at Liverpool, and that the arrangements for the conveyance of the heavy luggage from the steamers to the railway stations at Liverpool and thence to Euston, and if so decided hereafter, St Pancras, will be those described in your letter of the 25th of August.

I am to add that the Secretary of State notes the observation made in your letter of the 22nd of June last as to the willingness of the Railway or Steamship Companies to meet the extra expense incurred for Police supervision in London, but that as at present advised he does not think it necessary to make this a condition of the arrangement.  You will, however, understand that in refraining from doing so the Secretary of State does not consider either himself or his successor debarred from taking a difficult course if circumstances should hereafter appear to make it desirable.

I am,

Sir,

Your obedient Servant

[Signed C. Stuart-Wortley] 

On 28 November 1888, Richard Prowse of Board of Customs wrote to the Under Secretary at Home Office (HO 45/9686/A48584):

Sir,

I am directed by the Board of Customs to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 23rd instant, No. A48584/13, on the subject of the Customs examination at Euston Station (and also, if desired by the Midland Railway Company, at St. Pancras), instead of at Liverpool, of the luggage of passengers arriving from America, stating that the Secretary of State has now withdrawn his objection to the examination taking place at the Railway Termini in London, in place of Liverpool, and to inform you that the Board have put themselves in communication with the two Railway Companies concerned, in order to make the necessary arrangements for the introduction of the new system.

I am,
Sir,
Your obedient servant,

[Signed: R. T. Prowse]

Mr Prowse also wrote to the General Manager of the London and North Western Railway on 28 November 1888 (CUST 30/452):

Sir, 

With reference to my letter to you of the 24th April last and previous correspondence, on the subject of the proposed Customs examination at Euston Station, instead of Liverpool, of the registered luggage of passengers arriving from America, I am directed by the Commissioner of Customs to inform you that the Secretary of State for the Home Department has now withdrawn his objection to the examination at the Station named in place of Liverpool and that the Board are thereupon now prepared to resume consideration of the subject in question. 

I am accordingly to request that your Company will depute a representative to confer with me as to the necessary final arrangements.

I am,

Sir,

Your obedient Servant,

On 16 January 1889 the Home Office wrote to the Receiver for the Metropolitan Police District with regards funding of the 12 constables (HO 149/3):

Sir,

I am directed by the Secretary of State to acquaint you that in connection with arrangements which are approaching settlement, for the Customs examination at Euston and St. Pancras Railway Stations instead of at Liverpool, of the baggage of passengers arriving from America, he has sanctioned a temporary augmentation to the Metropolitan Police Force of twelve Constables whose pay is to be defrayed from the Special Police Vote from the date of their appointment to this service.

I am,
Sir,
Your obedient Servant

[signed Godfrey Lushington]    

Subsequently the Board of Customs wrote to Home Office on 11 February 1889 (CUST 30/455):

Sir,

In reply to Mr Lushington's letter of the 2nd instant, A48584/18, on the subject of the proposed examination of registered baggage from America, via Liverpool, at St Pancras and Euston Stations respectively, I am directed by the Board of Customs to acquaint you, for the information of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, that they are in communication with the Railway Companies concerned, and that when the necessary arrangements shall be completed a notification will be sent to the Home Office.

I am,
Sir,
Your obedient Servant, 

The Board of Customs wrote to the General Manager of the London and North Western Railway on 12th February 1889 (CUST 30/455):

Sir,

With reference to the recent correspondence on the subject of the proposed examination in London of registered baggage from America, via Liverpool, I am directed by the Board of Customs to request that, should the London and North Western Railway company intend to take further action in the matter, the plans for any accommodation proposed to be provided at Euston Station as Baggage Examination premises may, in the first instance, be submitted to them for consideration and formal approval.

I am, 
Sir,
Your obedient Servant,

The Secretary of the Board of Custom wrote in the same terms to the General Manager of the Midland Railway Company on 12th February 1889 (CUST 30/455):

Sir,

With reference to the recent correspondence on the subject of the proposed examination in London of registered baggage from America, via Liverpool, I am directed by the Board of Customs to request that, should the Midland Railway company intend to take further action in the matter, the plans for any accommodation proposed to be provided at St Pancras Station as Baggage Examination premises may, in the first instance, be submitted to them for consideration and formal approval.

I am, 
Sir,
Your obedient Servant, 

Commissioner Monro had asked on 26 January 1889 when he could expect to hear about the deployment of the 12 constables and the Home Office replied to the Commissioner on 25 February 1889 (HO 65/64):

Sir,

With reference to your letter of the 26th ultimo asking when you may expect to receive intimation that the Constables will be required for service in connection with the proposed scheme of examination in London of the luggage of passengers arriving from America via Liverpool, I am directed by the Secretary of State to inform you that the Board of Customs have signified their intention of reporting to him when the necessary arrangements shall have been completed with the Railway Companies concerned with whom they are in communication.  

Upon receipt of such notification the Secretary of State will of course communicate the fact to you.

I am,
Sir,
Your obedient Servant 

At this point the trail runs cold.  I haven't been able to find any communication by the Secretary of State to the Commissioner that the necessary arrangements had been completed.  Nevertheless, confirmation that the 12 constables did commence their duties during 1889 appears to be found in a letter from the Home Office to the Receiver dated 11 November 1889 (HO 65/67 - underlining in original):

Sir,

I am directed by the Secretary of State to acquaint you that, in framing the Estimate of the amount required during the year ending 31 March 1891, to meet the cost of police specially employed, it will be necessary to include the pay etc. of the Constables engaged in examining luggage at Euston and St Pancras, and I am therefore to request that you will at your earliest possible convenience, inform me of the amount of the commuted rate which it is proposed to charge in respect of these men.

I am Sir,
Your obedient Servant, 

And it is also known that the Commissioner wrote to the Home Secretary on 10 December 1889 to explain the omission from his Return for the year ending 31 March 1891 of 12 Police Constables for duty at Euston and St Pancras. This letter has not survived but there is reference to it in a Home Office register (HO 46/97).

Return to Howlercast Part 2: 12 Constables