National Union of Police and Prison Officers
Robert Tissyman was a former coal miner who as a 25 year old arrived in Liverpool, probably from Yorkshire; he was born in 1869 although his early life is unknown. He joined the Liverpool City Police in October 1894. As most Liverpool City Police Officers personal records (1836 to 1950’s) were destroyed c. 1984 his early service is unknown but by 1912 he is recorded as a Police Sergeant and residing at 37 Albert Edward Road, Edge Hill, Liverpool 7. A respectable area wherein a lot of police officers resided as the district was “acceptable” to the Watch Committee; although the Police officers compelled to live in a “Respectable” area sometimes struggled to pay the rent.
As a Police Officer Robert would have taken an active part in the “Putting down” of the Liverpool Transport Strike of 1911, where no quarter was asked on either side and none given, a bitter fight which left a hatred of the Police within the ranks of the working class in Liverpool, particularly those to the left and among the unions. It must have been difficult for men such as Sergeant Tissyman, who had a hard working class background but had taken an oath to uphold the law, even though most of the Police at that time were lower paid than those on strike for more pay and better conditions.
Sergeant Tissyman and others were true to their oath and carried out their duties, the strike duly ended and Liverpool returned to some normality but the rancour persisted within the ranks of the Police and working class alike.
The National Union of Police and Prison Officers had its begining in the Metropolitan Police area of London and its history is well known and documented elsewhere, however, its growth in the Liverpool City Police can be attributed to the work of Robert Tisseyman, the tireless Liverpool leader of NUPPO and organizer of the eight Liverpool City Police branches.
He was an energetic promoter of the NUPPO ethos, who wholeheartedly believed in the “Cause” and in the working class, who he never doubted would rally around the Police in its struggle for improved pay and conditions. Time would prove his faith unfounded.
The events of the Police strike in Liverpool and its failure have been featured in many articles and books and needs no further mention in this humble effort, suffice to say it did fail and no one felt it more that Robert Tissyman who believed in the strike and the justice of the cause, he was beside himself with pity for the men he had led into battle, defeat and ultimately an unemployment wilderness.
All uniform in the hands of the strikers had to be returned to the Parade room at Rose Hill Bridewell. On the days following the strike officers attended and returned their uniforms to an ever growing pile, some just placed their uniform with the others; some threw them down in contempt. The officers on “Guard” in the room, who in the main were young recruits the older officers making themselves scarce, took some abuse. One ex “ D” Division Sergeant entered the Parade room, he was neatly dressed with his uniform neatly folded over his arm, the stripes and watch committee Long Service medal ribbons clearly in view, he placed his uniform on the pile and turning to a young officer spoke kindly to him and then left. I believe this to have been Robert Tissyman.
He must have felt betrayed by the Labour movement and Policemen who remained on duty despite being members of NUPPO and having promised compliance with the strike. It is probable that along with others he lost his “Police” house and moved elsewhere in Edge Hill as he was re-homed in the mid thirties to Huyton, his original home in Albert Edward Road still stands today (2012) so it is unlikely that he was re-homed from there.
The bold Sergeant Tissyman believed wholeheartedly in the Labour movement and championed the cause of the unemployed, he continued to campaign for the reinstatement of the dismissed officers and believed promises of reinstatement by the Labour Party when they came to power. He became involved in politics as a councillor for Edge Hill and his passion for the cause and his bitterness against the oppressors of the unemployed shone through. He was involved in most demonstrations and marches throughout the City and indeed was injured in clashes with the Police.
Robert Tissyman must have felt completely betrayed when it became apparent that Police reinstatement was never going to happen as support from the Labour Government, when they came to power, was not forthcoming not withstanding promises made.
There is a saying “ All gave some, some gave all” Robert Tissyman believed in the right of the cause so much that he led the strike from the front and withdrew from lawful duty when he had EIGHT WEEKS to his pension and knew full well the consequences of his actions. He gave all.
He died on the 15th of October 1936 at Whiston Hospital from an injury to his throat (Liverpool Echo 15-10-36).
A Measure of his fame was the heading in the Liverpool Echo on the evening of the 15th of October 1936.
MR TISSYMAN DEAD.
City Police Strike recalled
I was once in the White House public house, Berry Street/Duke Street and having an interest in the Liverpool City Police immediately noticed a “Distinguished” Gent who sported a NUPPO badge on his lapel. He spoke highly of Robert Tissyman, whom he claimed, had been his Sergeant. He made the statement “Robert Tissyman Died Bloodied but Unbowed”.
During the 1980’s I went to the Museum of Labour History held in the Lancashire Sessions House ( later an overspill Crown Court for Merseyside) On corner of William Brown Street and Commutation Row. Therein on display were the Baton, Helmet Plate and a Pocket Book of Ex Sergeant Robert Tissyman, who must have held onto them for old times sake. An awe inspiring sight.
Peter Dellius. June 2012
Webmasters note: Sgt. Tissyman went on strike with his colleagues with only 8 weeks to go before receiving his full police pension. As a result of his strike action he not only lost his job but also his pension.
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