History of the Brighton Police 1838-1967

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The band formed by Mr Terry

Inspector Gerald W Baines of the Brighton Police compiled this history

Mr James Terry

Mr Terry joined the Brighton force on 4 October 1843 and was appointed Chief Constable on 6 April 1881. One of the earliest events of his term of office took place on 21 July 1881 when the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Brighton to open the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Mounted police were used to control the crowds and this was an early example of mutual aid between forces for there is a record that the mounted duty was performed by ‘Inspector Mason and twenty mounted men of the Croydon Police’. In the Watch Committee proceedings of 16 July 1885 there is a further reference to the use of police horses, when it was agreed that horses should be hired for use at the Bath and West of England Show at Preston Park.

Police band

In 1884 Mr Terry approached the Watch Committee with a view to forming a police band. A fund was raised to purchase the instruments and, under the direction of the bandmaster – a Mr Watts – the band fulfilled its first public engagement in the Corn Exchange in June 1884. Four years later, Messrs Marriage Wallis and Daniel Hack, two prominent Brighton citizens, presented the premises at 119 Southover Street, to be used by the force for recreational purposes. The minute book of the Brighton Police Institute, as it came to be known, shows that it was used as a reading room and for Bible classes, educational classes, entertainments, concerts, prayer meetings and meetings of the Temperance Society. It may be of interest to add that there was a reported decline in the use of the Institute in 1904 and although the introduction of a billiard table revived the interest for a period, the use of the premises appears to have lapsed by 1919.


When Mr Terry finally retired, he had served in the force for over fifty years and to mark the occasion he was presented with an illuminated address by the members of the force and a similar presentation was made by the Watch Committee. In addition, the townspeople raised a subscription totalling £600 and purchased Hoathly Villa in Florence Road, Preston. The title deeds and an album showing the names of the subscribers were presented to Mr Terry at a public luncheon in the Royal Pavilion on 22 November 1893. He was succeeded by Chief Superintendent Thomas Carter on 27 January 1894.

At the close of the century, the Town Hall was enlarged and remodelled and the basement converted into the police station and offices which were occupied until recently by the present generation of police officers.

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