Policeman murdered 120 years ago remembered today

PC James Gordon
PC James Gordon

The bravery of a St Helens police officer who died after he was struck with an iron bar as he tried to arrest three crooks will be remembered today - 120 years after his murder.

Late on Sunday, November 12, 1893, PC James Gordon, 26, and a colleague, Constable Whalley, disturbed three men who had broken into the yard of Foster’s Navigation Boiler Works in Atlas Street.

But, as they attempted to arrest the trio on suspicion of attempting to steal hens, PC Gordon was struck across the head with an iron bar.

With the help of other officers the three suspects were all detained and, after receiving first aid, the officer was sent home and told to report back for duty the following morning.

However, PC Gordon never returned to duty. He died from his injuries in the early hours of the following morning.

At 11am today (Wednesday, November 13), to commemorate his bravery, a special ceremony will be held at St Helens Cemetery to mark his grave with a headstone.

Organised by the Police Roll of Honour Trust, it will be attended by the assistant chief constable of Merseyside Police, Ian Pilling, and the chairman of the Merseyside Police Federation, Peter Singleton.

Mayor of St Helens, Coun Andy Bowden, and Town Hall leader Coun Barrie Grunewald will also be in attendance along with Geraldine Winner, the widow of Michael Winner who set up the Police Memorial Trust following the death of Pc Yvonne Fletcher in 1984.

Mounted police officers will lead the official party to the old section of the cemetery off Hard Lane as a bugler plays the last post and reveille.

Police officers will then form a guard of honour while a lone piper plays during the service.

Members of the public wishing to pay their respects are also welcome to attend.

Steve Lloyd, of The Police Roll of Honour Trust, said: “Although PC Gordon’s name and sacrifice is well recorded, I am sad to say this brave young officer has lain in an unmarked grave since his death.

“This would have continued to be the case had it not been been for research undertaken on our records and research by members of the Friends of St Helens Cemetery, including Mrs Brenda Neary, who is herself an ex police officer.

“The job of a Police Officer never changes. It will always be inherently dangerous.”

Supt Chris Markey agreed: “PC Gordon’s death is a reminder to everyone that, on a daily basis, officers can be called upon to go into unexpected situations, and show great bravery and courage.”