Liverpool City Police

A Grave Mistake by john edwards ret.


The Canteen at the Police Training School, Mather Avenue, Liverpool in the 1950 - 60 era served a wholesome three course meal and a cup of tea to the Staff of the School and to police officers and police cadets attending courses. The cost was very reasonable. It was subsidised by the Watch Committee. However, on the demise of the Watch Committee, the situation changed and it became one of “Charge the Brutes” rather than “Never mind the cost - give them good fare”. Soup, Dinner, Sweet, Cheese and Biscuits all became individually priced. No longer free sauce on the table - payment was required for a small cachet of sauce. Nevertheless, the Kitchen Staff continued to be held in great esteem in providing excellent food - their cooking expertise and friendly personality was greatly appreciated. Therefore, there was great sadness at the School when one of the Kitchen Sstaff, an elderly lady, died after a short illness.

Tom McHugh, the Chief Inspector in command at the School, decided as a tribute to the deceased, because of her long and devoted service to the Police, for a small party of police officers from the Staff of the Training School to attend her funeral.

The time that the cortege would pass along Mather Avenue was known and the Chief Inspector, inspectors and sergeants in two unmarked police cars waited for it outside the School.

I was a Sergeant at the time and I positioned 30 cadets in a single rank at the front of the School on Mather Avenue and I took up a position in front of them. The funeral cortege, hearse and cars, on its way to Allerton Cemetery was seen coming along Mather Avenue at the time expected. As it passed the School, I brought the Cadets to “Attention” and I saluted the cortege. In the meantime, the two cars with the police officers drove off but at the crossroads of Mather Avenue and Booker Ave both cars were delayed because of other traffic. By the time they were able to pursue the cortege it was nowhere in sight. Fortunately, on reaching and entering Allerton Cemetery, a large and elongated area, they saw people gathered around a grave and went to join them.

They laid two wreaths alongside other wreaths at the graveside. It became apparent that the mourners around the graveside were staring intensely and with looks of puzzlement at the party of uniformed police officers who had arrived. As the burial service commenced, it was realised by the Chief Inspector that this was a Roman Catholic burial whereas the funeral they should be attending the deceased lady was of the Church of England faith. There was some mutterings amongst the police officers and then with apologetic nodding towards the mourners they retrieved the two wreaths and quietly slipped away to look for the funeral that they should have been attending.

Sadly and unfortunately the whole affair was one of a graveside error!

John Edwards
August 2012

Mather Avenue Training Centre - Click to enlarge

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