YP Letters: River keeper had eventful former life

Policing today is very different to the 1850s.
Policing today is very different to the 1850s.
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From: Colin Jackson, Sandal, Wakefield.

RE your recent magazine article “Go with the flow”, I thought readers might like to know a little more about the first river keeper, Robert Walker, briefly mentioned in the piece.

Robert Walker was a farmer’s son from Swillington, but he was also one of the very first members of the West Riding Police, joining the force on Christmas Eve 1856, and was posted to Wombwell.

On Friday night, March 20, 1857, Walker set out on his beat, passing Wombwell Main Colliery, to a remote area called Smithley.

Here he chanced upon three men in a turnip field stealing sheep. He immediately took the initiative, attempting to arrest the three, and in fact had got the upper hand when five more men arrived on the scene and immediately fell upon Walker, beating, kicking, cutting and stabbing him until they had released the three.

They then left him believing they had killed him. But Walker was not dead but severely injured, and he managed to drag himself to a nearby farmhouse and raise the alarm. In the melee, he had lost three fingers from his left hand, presumably cut off by the butchering knives wielded by some of his assailants.

In the following days Walker’s colleagues arrested eight local men but Walker could only positively identify one of them, Henry Waller. He was charged and subsequently appeared at York Assizes, when the was given 14 years’ penal servitude.

In the meantime Walker was moved to Harrogate and later to Ripon; he also received the proceeds of a number of cash collections and an inscribed silver watch from his force colleagues. Here he married and had a family, a son and two daughters.

In October 1864 he was transferred to Horton-in-Ribblesdale, but even here he was not immune to injury when, in June 1867, a poacher named Thomas Thistlethwaite dislocated his right elbow and caused him other injuries.

Walker retired from the police on April 3, 1877, with a pension of 2/9d. per day, at which time he presumably became manager of the fish hatchery. He died in September 1899.

Fighting for One Yorkshire

From: Steve Manion, Yorkshire Party.

OVER the last few weeks, I have been delighted to see and hear the discussions around devolution to the Yorkshire region. This is something the Yorkshire Party has been fighting for since its creation.

We at the Yorkshire Party welcome the debate, but still think it should go further by having a regional assembly or parliament.

In Yorkshire, we are proud, friendly, supportive, diverse and hard-working. We are asking for what we deserve, what other regions have and what is fair.

Modern politics in the UK seems to focus only on London and the South-East. With a Yorkshire Assembly or Parliament, we will have the flexibility to act on issues that are needed locally: road infrastructure projects, rail projects and school finances.

We, the people of Yorkshire, will have the ability to vote for representatives that can deal with these issues and prioritise the most important.

Seeing that Doncaster and Barnsley councils are seeking a vote to allow their constituents a say on these matters is exhilarating. This means that the people will have their voice heard and we can work hard to overcome future obstacles.

Unfortunately, the Sheffield and Rotherham councils are not taking the same approach, instead trying to only get the best deal for their councillors, rather than the people.

As the Yorkshire Party’s candidate for Don Valley in the recent General Election, I was delighted to see the response that the party and I received. We wish to continue our growth and the spread of our message for a One Yorkshire deal. Proud strong regions will only make the UK as a whole stronger. There are not many as proud as Yorkshire folk.

Grayling’s failings

From: Nick Hudson, Harrogate.

AM I alone in being staggered by Chris Grayling’s breathtaking arrogance, ignorance and complacency? He was a dismal Justice Secretary and now he is a hopeless Transport Secretary (Tom Richmond, The Yorkshire Post, November 18).

His knowledge of the transport infrastructure of the North of England probably extends to the interior of Cockfosters Tube station. A day or so after his pompous rant about a Commons debate he missed regarding the ongoing shambles on his watch, we hear that the main reason for the low productivity in Yorkshire and other parts of the North is the amount of time wasted due to road traffic congestion, hold-ups and inadequate rail services.

Let’s face it – HS2 isn’t going to solve that. Let’s please drop this hugely expensive vanity project. It’s just the last chance for a payday for the mates of a dying government. That £56bn could solve so many transport problems in the North.

The price of free parking

From: Barbara Woolley, Barkston Ash, Tadcaster.

SHOULD hospital parking fees be abolished? No they should not – free parking would be abused. Then patients wouldn’t be able to park for appointments.

No one is too poor if they are running a car to pay for parking. And the fees are so small compared with free medical treatment.

My husband and I have had approximately £70-80,000 worth of procedures, including cancer treatment, for which we had a free parking pass. Plus there are ongoing check-ups, scans and medication all for free.

The only thing patients see written in hard cash are car parking fees and if this money goes into hospital coffers all the better for patients – more care.