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Liverpool Police Strike 1919 centenary

1 August 2019 by Kay

100 years ago a number of police officers across the country went out on strike. The heart of this national Police Strike was in Liverpool, Birkenhead and Bootle.

We have a number of items in the collections of the Museum of Liverpool which relate to this significant event. The most striking is this wonderful painting of Bob Tissyman who played a major organising role in the city. It was painted by renowned local artist David Jacques.

Police Sergeant Robert (Bob) Tissyman was the Liverpool leader of the ‘unrecognised’ NUPPO (National Union of Police & Prison Officers), and organiser of the union’s eight branches in the city. He was born in 1869, joined Liverpool City Police in October 1894 and lived in Edge Hill.

955 Liverpool union members went on strike for improved pay, conditions and for the right to belong to a union. Smaller strikes also occurred in London and Birmingham. With the Liverpool Police Force reduced by around half, looting soon swept the city. Non-strikers unsuccessfully tried to keep control. Special constables and police officers from other parts of the country were drafted in to take over strikers’ work. The army were also called in to maintain control and to act as a harsh deterrent.

The strike was crushed, and along with it the Police Union. All of the strikers, including Bob Tissyman, were dismissed from the Force and lost their pension entitlement. Bob continued to campaign for them to be reinstated and to fight for workers’ rights and the unemployed. He took part in many demonstrations and marches in the city.

In 1989, David Jacques depicted Bob in this painting with injuries he received, including a broken arm, during demonstrations on behalf of the unemployed in 1921.
Bob later became a city councillor. He died in 1936.

Other items in our collections, owned by Bob and kindly donated by his family, include this Liverpool Police helmet badge, truncheon and whistle.

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