coachman with blunderbuss

Civil Forces

Public servants such as police and prison officers, Customs and Excise officers and Royal Mail coachmen were armed with a variety of weapons including edged weapons and firearms.

Mail coach guards

Poor roads made communication slow and difficult and post boys and coaches were often robbed. In 1784 a fast, well-protected nationwide system of coaches was set up. Every coach had a guard armed with a pair of flintlock pistols and a blunderbuss, which proved an effective defence.

The Police

For many centuries law enforcement was the responsibility of the local community and their magistrates, who would appoint officers, such as parish constables.

In the 18th century, as towns increased this style of policing could not cope with the rise in crime and disorder.

The first attempts at professional policing was in London, and in 1829 Sir Robert Peel established the Metropolitan Police Force. By 1856 every local authority was required to have a police force.

The first police were armed with wooden truncheons and sometimes a short sword. As a reaction to the increased use of firearms in crime the police armed themselves and developed protective clothing.


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THE BATTLE OF AGINCOURT: 600th ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION

A special exhibition in the White Tower at the Tower of London, commemorating the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt.

23 October 2015

Tower of London

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Did you know?

First commercial steel melting

Benjamin Huntsman of Sheffield is widely credited with the first commercial melting of steel in around 1740, using his crucible process. However, the melting of steel had long been practiced in central Asia and India and was known as Damascus steel.