Bill Pitt, policeman

Bill Pitt
Bill Pitt
Have your say

Bill Pitt, who has died at 80, was – at 6ft 6in and 17 stone – a recognisable presence on his 30-year police beat around Ilkley until his retirement after 30 years’ service, in 1988.

The life of a local bobby often mirrors that of the community, and Pc Pitt’s part in Ilkley’s history encompassed the occasion, in March 1967, when unrest broke out following an unlikely engagement by the rock star Jimi Hendrix at the Troutbeck Hotel. Doors were ripped off, electrical fittings torn out and furniture smashed furniture after Bill’s sergeant stepped on stage to attempt to stop the music.

A year later, in more sombre circumstances, he was one of those who helped evacuate the Ilkley Moor Hotel on Skipton Road when it was engulfed by fire. Four people died and the hotel was later demolished, leaving only the part of the building which is now the Ilkley Moor Vaults.

He was also called on to help deal with the attack in 1979 by Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, on a newspaper reporter on Ilkley’s Railway Road.

In July 1969, Pc Pitt was selected to represent the force at the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle, forming part of the police guard of honour. Later, he represented Ilkley on a civic exchange visit to its twin town of Coutances in France, where he patrolled the streets in his English uniform and bobby’s helmet.

He received a commendation for bravery after disturbing a burglary in progress, during which he chased two men on foot across fields, swam across the River Wharfe and held one of the men until reinforcements arrived.

His night shifts – in an era in which minor unrest was often resolved by a strong word or a guiding hand – were spent keeping order when the pubs closed, then patrolling the streets, often on foot.

He knew most of the “bad lads” in Ilkley, and resisted a promotion that would have caused him to leave the town. A proponent of old-fashioned policing, he also knew the characters who just needed to be given what he called a “thick ear”.

After retiring in 1988, he became a governor at Bolling Road primary school in Ben Rhydding, where his wife Muriel was a teacher.