Police ‘treasure trove’ opens up history online

Community Constable Paul McGlashan pictured with 'Pc Murdoch'
Community Constable Paul McGlashan pictured with 'Pc Murdoch'

Police archives in Fife stretching back 140 years have gone online and to mark the occasion, the Kingdom’s most famous ‘policeman’ took advantage of an open day to look over the historical treasure trove.

‘PC Murdoch’, the famous cartoon character from the Sunday Post’s ‘Oor Wullie’ comic strip was based on Kincardine policeman, PC (later Sergeant) Sandy Marnoch. A cartoon replica guarded the archives at Markinch while members of the public, including his modern-day counterpart, Community Constable Paul McGlashan viewed the records.

The historical records were transferred to the Fife Council archives in 2002 and contain the service records of police officers who joined the Dunfermline City force between 1874 and 1913, the Burgh of Kirkcaldy force between 1877 and 1948 and the county force between 1858 and 1950.

Fife Council staff and volunteers have now completed a name index to the registers of police officers and this is now online at www.fifedirect.org.uk/archives which will make it much easier for family historians to track down records of police ancestors.

One of those who served in the local constabulary during the Second World War was Dudley D Watkins, the author and cartoonist who created ‘Oor Wullie’ and ‘The Broons’. During his time as a war reserve constable, Watkins worked in Kincardine alongside PC Marnoch, who was a legendary character in the town, tipping the scales at 21 stones and allegedly taking no nonsense from the local population.

Watkins based the character almost entirely on PC Marnoch, changing the name only slightly.

Constable Paul McGlashan said: “Fife Constabulary is committed to Taking Policing Closer to the Community and this initiative by the Council’s archivists helps us to do this by allowing local people to look at our historical records at the archives and also online. It was fascinating to see how policing has changed over the years and our community-led approach is very different to how our predecessors operated.”