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Caro
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PostSubject: Watch Committees   Fri 09 Nov 2018, 05:09

While I understand there are laws governing a range of behaviours and social norms that hope to influence people's behaviour, I was surprised when reading Sheila Hancock's memoir abut her life with John Thaw, to hear her say (can you hear someone say something or is that a contradiction in terms?) that "most towns had a Watch Committee composed of local dignatories keeping an eye on people's behaviour. In Shanklin (on the Isle of Wight) they kept constant vigil lest our embraces on stage became too explicit. The management had a letter of complaint that my shorts were too short for walking down the High Street".

I have read about communities in earlier times pushing people out of towns to ensure they didn't have to pay for poor unemployed people, but I hadn't realised that in the mid-20th century there were people on the streets keeping a strict eye on dress and sexual behaviours that weren't illegal.

Were these committees operating all over England? And when did they stop?
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Fri 09 Nov 2018, 11:32

I couldn't find much Caro.  A brief article in Wikipedia which seems to indicate watch committees lasted in some areas until 1968.  [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watch_committee In England and Wales, watch co]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watch_committee In England and Wales, watch co[/url]mmittee and tangentially in this linked feature.  [url=www.historyandpolicy.org %E2%80%BA Policy Papers]www.historyandpolicy.org › Policy Papers[/url]  It seems that at least part of their function was to have a say in to how the police service (or I suppose in those days it would be individual police services) was/were run.  There was mention of something about the Birmingham Watch Committee in 1960 on the National Archive site but the document had not yet been digitised so that wasn't much help!!  There's something brief on the www.victorianpolicestations.org site but the link to the specific page is truncated so would need to be searched on "Manchester's New Corporation and the Watch Committee".  Sometimes my links don't seem to work - nordmann explained why, it is when extra characters are copied to the link but unfortunately those characters don't show up on my screen.  Perhaps someone else on Res Hist will have a better prior knowledge of the subject - I would hazard a guess that such committees did appear to exist up and down the country, but of course I'm not a "proper" historian.
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Green George
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Fri 09 Nov 2018, 18:17

I think it was Brighton Watch committee which banned "I, a woman" from cinemas in the (then) town. Didn't do much good a Hove's allowed it to be shown (the version with the missing patches on the mirror in the masturbation scene)
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Sat 10 Nov 2018, 21:59

As well as policing, the watch committees were also responsible for fire brigades. This continued even after policing and fire fighting were formally separated following the Fire Brigade Act 1938. Prior to that the 2 services were often combined:

Police Fire Brigades

Interesting to note in that article that the Royal Navy's Admiralty Police Fire Brigade continued to exist until 1968.
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Sat 10 Nov 2018, 23:55

Another odd function of Birmingham police was to supplement the City of Birmingham Orchestra, for which purpose they, unusually for a Police band of the period, used instruments in New Philharmonic pitch (A=439 Hz, later A = 440 Hz) instead of the "old" Philharmonic pitch of A = 452 common to brass and military until at least the 1960s. On one occasion, the orchestra needed a bassoon player, and phone police HQ to ask if they could borrow one. "Certainly" they were told "pop out of the Town Hall. He is on point duty outside".
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Sun 11 Nov 2018, 10:57

As one who can only (just) pick out Three Blind Mice on the descant recorder (and I'm not even sure where my recorder is at present) I didn't know there was an "old" philharmonic pitch and a "new" philharmonic pitch.  Can any of our musician members enlighten me when the change was effected?  I know of a couple of cases where people became or married musicians who became members of bands (I think in the military).  One school friend (who I rarely see now - lives far away) has a daughter who's husband married someone in a band.  The friend's daughter (and son though he doesn't use his music in work) were gifted musically though the daughter is mostly a Mum now though may do some part-time work (probably not using music).  I used to keep in touch with my friend's mother but sadly that lady died last year (having reached an age over 90).

E-G-B-D-F (every good boy deserves fun/favour) or F-A-C-E is about my limit of musical knowledge and I came unstuck on the next size up of the recorder because the fingering is different and I can't do the lower stave.
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Mon 12 Nov 2018, 00:28

You should have missed the treble and gone for the tenor. That actually plays the notes as written for the descant, which actually plays a full octave above written pitch (actually, most musicians use the terms "soprano" and "alto" rather than "descant" and "treble"). "New philharmonic pitch" came through in the late C19th, pretty much fully established by 1890, but orchestras are tending to pitch slightly sharp (again), because it makes the music sound "brighter". Actually, in Bach's time, the pitch was at least a semitone down from modern ones - that's why almost all violins from the high Cremona period have been altered to take the higher tension needed to get there.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Mon 12 Nov 2018, 09:28

I think I should have said next size down rather than next size up but I think G knew what I meant (re: recorders).
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Mon 12 Nov 2018, 12:49

Re the "fistula nomine recordio" (or "pipe called a keepsake"), my father, as a saxophone player, was convinced that those should have been treated like saxes (and brass band scores aiui) as "transposing" instruments, so that if you played a note written as "C" on an alto (or a sopranino for that matter) it would sound as an "F" - and the music publisher rather than the musician would do the changes to allow the consort to work.
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Tue 13 Nov 2018, 11:53

I thought the recorder was thus called because in old (or older at least) English "to record" also meant to sing like a bird.  Anyway, enough of my lack of musical knowledge derailing the thread.  I have vague memories of a character called Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing by Mr Wobbleweapon (nicking nordmann's nickname for the Bard) who was part of the "Watch" which was a sort of medieval/renaissance forerunner of the police force.  Is it just co-incidence that the forerunner of the police force was called "the Watch" and later there were "Watch Committees"?
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Tue 13 Nov 2018, 14:35

The Watch was generally just the term since at least the 16th century, for the night watchmen employed by civic boroughs and cities to patrol the streets for crime and to look out for fires. They were usually old men, often ex-soldiers, armed only with a lantern and a cudgel, who, to preserve their own skin, were more than ready to turn a blind eye to any serious breach of the peace. Real crime prevention - whether it be supressing public disorder, protecting public or private property, or arresting violent criminals - was left to the local militia or even the army.

A propos of which, Rembrandt's 'The Night Watch' actually depicts the local, heavily-armed militia (local troops raised for the city's military defence, rather than for mundane everyday policing) and as originally painted depicts them in full sun ... it's the dark varnish and years of dirt that make it appear a night scene.



But returning to the original subject ... Watch Committees were actually set up by The Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 (one of a number of legislative measures for reforming local government that were introduced as a consequence of the 1832 Parliamentary Reform Act). The 1835 Act specifically followed on from a parliamentary enquiry that advised that local government should be made more open and subject to control of local public opinion, rather than just under the control of financial, business or political vested interests.

Hence the Act established a uniform system of municipal boroughs throughout England and Wales (the law was/is different in Scotland and Ireland), to be governed by town councils elected by ratepayers. The reformed boroughs were obliged to publish their financial accounts and were liable to audit and each borough was to appoint a salaried town clerk and treasurer who were not to be members of the council. They were also to establish a "watch committee" and to appoint constables to 'preserve the peace'. All this is also of course just after Robert Peel established the Metroploitan Police Force (1829), but before the idea was rolled out nationally, finally with the County and Borough Police Act (1856).

Watch Committees were largely disbanded after 1889 when counties switched to using "standing joint committees" which then included magistrates among their members, but police forces working within a single borough still retained their Watch Committees. These were finally removed only by the Police Act of 1964 which replaced all these old bodies with police authorities, comprising two-thirds elected members of county or borough councils, and one-third magistrates.

Watch Committees were originally intended as a means to regulate and control the actions of the civillian police force operating within a borough or county, but in time they seem to have become increasingly involved in local issues concerning public order and morals; such as the licensing places of entertainment (originally a police function), especially where there might be gambling or the consumption of alcohol, and as has been described above, even controlling what plays could be performed or films shown. They also had considerable influence over local police policy as regards, say, the treatment of vagrants, the persecution of immigrants, the entrapment of homosexual men, or the prosecution of prostitutes. All too often I suspect these Watch Committees functioned only to further the narrow-minded agendas of self-appointed moralistic busy-bodies.


Last edited by Meles meles on Tue 13 Nov 2018, 15:45; edited 6 times in total (Reason for editing : grammar)
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Tue 13 Nov 2018, 14:51

Smart guy, Rembrandt. When he painted "the Night Watch" (real title "Officers and Other Civic Guardsmen of District II of Amsterdam, under the command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq") he charged each guy separately who wanted to be in the picture, and even charged different amounts depending on how prominently they wished to be featured. When he was finished he bought himself a new house on the proceeds. You can even play "where's Wally" with it and see if you can find the artist himself who cheekily put himself into the composition, apparently to spite one of the watchmen who reneged on paying up - stupidly before Rembrandt had handed it over and so could paint himself over the cheapskate.

After the last time it was vandalised its eventual return to the national gallery after restoration was advertised by a rather clever "flash mob" happening ...



Last edited by nordmann on Tue 13 Nov 2018, 15:08; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : grammar)
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Tue 13 Nov 2018, 15:02

Wow! That was brilliant ... and they even included the hugely symbolic chicken, or should I say cocq!
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Tue 13 Nov 2018, 18:39

@nordmann wrote:
Smart guy, Rembrandt. When he painted "the Night Watch" (real title "Officers and Other Civic Guardsmen of District II of Amsterdam, under the command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq") he charged each guy separately who wanted to be in the picture, and even charged different amounts depending on how prominently they wished to be featured. When he was finished he bought himself a new house on the proceeds. You can even play "where's Wally" with it and see if you can find the artist himself who cheekily put himself into the composition, apparently to spite one of the watchmen who reneged on paying up - stupidly before Rembrandt had handed it over and so could paint himself over the cheapskate.

After the last time it was vandalised its eventual return to the national gallery after restoration was advertised by a rather clever "flash mob" happening ...


nordmann and Meles meles,

I join MM. Splendid indeed. Where do you find all that stuff "in hemelsnaam" (in heaven's name (they translate it on the net by: for God's sake)).
And today I learned from MM for the first time that the darkness is from the aging of the varnish. By your footage I saw the dwarf in the left bottom corner, but I don't see it in my copy which hangs only a meter from me now. A copy from a painter in Thailand. I suppose for the cheap price, he made it even darker than the original to gain time. We had the painting with us on the return flight in a roll. But the frame with gold plating came only some three months later, although it came as promised and also in a tube. I had a full day work to rebuild the frame, as it were in fact three frames superimposed (I make some words in English!) one on each other and I had to use fine nails that I had pinched of the head to press the frames on each other, quite a time consuming occupation.

Kind regards to both from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Tue 13 Nov 2018, 21:16

Another body which was affected (indeed disbanded) by the 1835 Act was the Town Waits. In some ways they were predecessors of the constables that act required to be appointed.
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Tue 13 Nov 2018, 22:51

@Meles meles wrote:


But returning to the original subject ... Watch Committees were actually set up by The Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 (one of a number of legislative measures for reforming local government that were introduced as a consequence of the 1832 Parliamentary Reform Act). The 1835 Act specifically followed on from a parliamentary enquiry that advised that local government should be made more open and subject to control of local public opinion, rather than just under the control of financial, business or political vested interests.

Hence the Act established a uniform system of municipal boroughs throughout England and Wales (the law was/is different in Scotland and Ireland), to be governed by town councils elected by ratepayers. The reformed boroughs were obliged to publish their financial accounts and were liable to audit and each borough was to appoint a salaried town clerk and treasurer who were not to be members of the council. They were also to establish a "watch committee" and to appoint constables to 'preserve the peace'. All this is also of course just after Robert Peel established the Metroploitan Police Force (1829), but before the idea was rolled out nationally, finally with the County and Borough Police Act (1856).

Watch Committees were largely disbanded after 1889 when counties switched to using "standing joint committees" which then included magistrates among their members, but police forces working within a single borough still retained their Watch Committees. These were finally removed only by the Police Act of 1964 which replaced all these old bodies with police authorities, comprising two-thirds elected members of county or borough councils, and one-third magistrates.

Watch Committees were originally intended as a means to regulate and control the actions of the civillian police force operating within a borough or county, but in time they seem to have become increasingly involved in local issues concerning public order and morals; such as the licensing places of entertainment (originally a police function), especially where there might be gambling or the consumption of alcohol, and as has been described above, even controlling what plays could be performed or films shown. They also had considerable influence over local police policy as regards, say, the treatment of vagrants, the persecution of immigrants, the entrapment of homosexual men, or the prosecution of prostitutes. All too often I suspect these Watch Committees functioned only to further the narrow-minded agendas of self-appointed moralistic busy-bodies.

Meles meles,

did a lot of research yesterday and today for equivalents in Belgium of the Watch Committees, although that I doubted that there was one.
Have still in mind some memories from my parents and my own youth: sayings as "loop, loop de garde-ville is daar" (run, run the city guard is there)  and also our rural guard in the rural municipalities: "de veldwachter", but we said it the French way: "garde champêtre" or only the "champetter".
But in research on the internet, nearly nothing, especially about the "garde ville"...
Even such a frenetic search that I had to prove to google that I was not a robot to search further
And the start of the Belgian police seems to be a bit fragmentary from the beginning in 1830. And they even looked in 1850 to London and Paris.
I learned the most from this book:from Luc Keunings: Des polices tranquilles. Une histoire de l'appareil policier au XIX siécle. (quiet police. a history of the police apparatus in the 19th century.
https://goo.gl/CCncvF

And about the "rural guard" Somewhere this evening I learned that it started under the French occupation in the second year (l'an deux) after the revolution)
And in Dutch:
https://www.standaardboekhandel.be/seo/nl/boeken/algemeen/9789401440295/philip-vanoutrive/meneer-de-champetter


As I read it these two, and the city and the rural guard, had a bit the task of the "watch committees" in England as for instance the public mores and also the "houses of light mores"...

Kind regards from Paul.
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Green George
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PostSubject: Re: Watch Committees   Wed 14 Nov 2018, 12:58

The cry of "Kwela! Kwela! in this is another warning - they stop playing dice (illegal in SA at that date aiui) and start playing the song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKz5kpqctV0
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