Martin Nicholls KPM.
Chief Constable of Warrington1907 ~ 1937.
of the treasures of the museum collection is a book found in the
back of an old cupboard during building work at Stockton Heath
Police Station. It was rescued from the skip by PC Graham
Roughsedge and turned out to be the personal scrapbook of Martin
Nicholls, one of Warrington Borough's most important figures.
The book, which contains many newspaper clippings, photographs
and letters, pictures the life of this remarkable man who was
one of the leading professional police officers of his day.
Born in 1871, at the age of twenty he joined
Reading County Borough Police as a constable. In just ten years,
in 1901, he was appointed Chief Constable of Windsor, an
astonishing achievement, not only because of his age and in a
time when most Chief Constables were former military officers,
but also because the royal connections of Windsor made the post
a keenly sought after one.
Whilst at Windsor he was responsible for many
royal occasions and proved to be an energetic innovator. He
earned praise from the press for his treatment of motorists, a
new problem for the police which has not changed much today.
courteous Chief Constable
We commend to
the notice of chief constables throughout the country
the method adopted by Mr M Nicholls, the Chief Constable
of Windsor, in dealing with speedy motorists. Instead of
summoning for the first offence he warns those who are
reported as exceeding the legal limit when near the
Royal Borough of Windsor. "I have to draw your
attention," runs the courteous official warning, "to the
fact that this is an offence for which a penalty might
be inflicted by the justices and it is hoped that you
will endeavour to prevent a recurrence of the same." If
every police authority would take such a course it would
do much to ease the present friction between motorists
and the official world.
In 1907 he was promoted to Chief
Constable of the Warrington Borough Police where he
remained for 30 years.
Apart from being a superb organiser
the Chief was recognised by all for his concern for the
people for whose safety he was responsible.
On one occasion he wrote an appeal to
the Justices for leniency on behalf of a man accused of
street betting, regarded as a serious offence in those
days. The letter was quoted in full in the local
He started the Police Aided Clothing
Fund to provide clothing for needy children, a charity
which is still in existence today. Also a well know
poultry breeder he organised shows to raise money for
charity, which became a celebrated Warrington event. A
proud clipping in the book shows his first-prize winning
bird at the Royal Show in Leicester.
The Chief also started the Warrington
Grappling Corps, a volunteer unit for rescues on the
river Mersey. The photograph here with the corps shows a
tall and imposing figure well known at all Warrington's
Martin Nicholls was a keen sportsman
and helped to found the Police Recreation Ground. His
cricketing prowess is shown in newspaper clippings, from
a duck against London City to 55 against Staines.
He was awarded the King's Police
Medal in 1925.
His epitaph may be found in a speech to Warrington
Borough Council. Nicholls had been criticised for
using the police to raise money for charity. In his
defence Alderman Pemberton said:
"The fact that they had a Chief
Constable, and a force supporting him, who did all
they possibly could for poor people who could not
help themselves was one of the finest things the
town could boast of."