P.C. 277 JOHN BARRY HIGHAM 
Served from 1970 - 1979
Young P.C. Barry Higham
 

I was born on the 29th March 1947 in the village of Aspull, some five miles north east of Wigan, Lancashire. My parents ran a corner shop which sold everything from clog irons to clothes.

I attended St Elizabeth’s Church primary school which was directly opposite the shop, and later Hindley and Abram Grammar School. Apart from maths, geography, woodwork, PE and games I didn’t enjoy my school life, mainly as I found it difficult to retain information. This I put down to falling out of my perambulator when I was six months old and splitting my head open. Things never improved!

The best part of my early teens was spent on the local farm. I adored the life. I was in my element when it came time for harvest, haymaking and potato picking. I was driving the tractor at fifteen and farmer John and Annie were great people.

I left school with 5 GCE’s not knowing what to do. I took a job at a local paint works in the accounts department and started a course of business studies at Wigan Technical College. After passing the first year I started work with Metal Box in the production control department. I soon got fed up as the office was small, held five of us, and it was next to the noisy production lines. At that time a mate of mine had started working at a small ice cream firm on a Saturday mornings and mentioned that there was a full time job going. I got the job and immediately doubled my salary, I felt like a millionaire. The hours were great, starting at midday, home by 7.15pm, pub by 9pm and a lie-in the following morning. I stayed for some twelve months but decided I needed to get a ‘proper’ job.

During my early teens I delivered shopping to several elderly residents on my bike. One of them, Mr. Valentine, always used to say to me in his broad Wigan accent “Ee lad thad make a good copper thee.” Seeing that I enjoyed the outdoor life I decided to give it a go. I applied for the then Wigan Borough police and was turned down. I was so disappointed and no reason was given. It was only on my retirement some 36 years later that I found out that the reason was due to the fact a cousin of mine ran an amusement arcade in Wigan. 

I then applied to the Lancashire Constabulary and was accepted. After training I was posted to Padiham, a small town attached to the west side of Burnley which was then a Borough Force. We also covered four rural villages which had their own village bobby. In those days it was like being part of a family. We had coal fires in the recreation and dining room and supervision was minimal. Some night shifts I recollect I didn`t get one call. I stayed in lodgings and went home on my days off.

On my days off I met up with my mates from Aspull. It was one evening in the pub that one of them said he had something that might interest me. The following night he produced a paper cutting regarding policing in Bermuda. I had no idea where Bermuda was but decided it might be an adventure and immediately applied. 

On being accepted, I was contacted by one Bruce Russell Bingley, who was working at Hyton, Liverpool, and who had found out through Headquarters that I was also going to Bermuda. We travelled to London together staying at his brother’s house and the night before travelling to Bermuda stayed at a pub just outside Heathrow, the licensee of which had recently moved from my local pub in Aspull. 

My thoughts on Bermuda – where does one start? The first day, going into the B of B for a loan, MacBeath block, going to the beach every day, standing outside B of B watching the girls walk by, the Birdcage (78 photographs in one hour), taking ‘sleepy’ home at three o’clock in the morning, drinking with ‘sleepy’ at three o’clock in the morning, playing dominos (Campbell Simons never did manage to break one of them!), the list is endless! 

On moving out of MacBeath block, I took lodgings on the corner of Angle Street, opposite end to Court Street, (the start of community relations) with Bill (the butcher) Nixon and Keith Pellow. and later I moved into The Keep at Fort Hamilton with Jo. The flat had previously been rented by Brian Foster. Although the flat was small, the location was fantastic with a view looking down on Hamilton Harbour. The peaches and pink grapefruit from the garden were delicious. However, I remember one night returning home about 1am and within two or three minutes there were two loud shotgun blasts as Buck Burrows blasted the house next door. I’m sure he must have been hiding in the bushes as I drove down the private road. One never knows! 

The time spent walking the beat in Hamilton was sole destroying, although the scenery was good at times. I think most of us would agree that Government House duty was dire. Things were fine when I became duty driver. I remember one night Neville Darrell called me into the station. He said there had been a report of a firearm being discharged on North Shore Road, Pembroke and we were to investigate. I started off at speed. Slow down was the order! On turning off onto a track, I was instructed to turn off the lights. I thought to myself something not quite right here. We pulled up, quietly got out of the car, crept round the front of a house, no lights on, and in through the front door. He switched on the lights, put some music on and asked what I wanted to drink!! Always being a serious and conscientious person, I think he was trying to tell me something. 

The Americans of course loved us in our uniforms. I think it was Ian “Paddy” Ackroyd who when standing outside the B of B watching the world go by, was asked where a certain place was, and directed them to the end of the block, turn right, at the next junction turn right again and then at the end of the block turn right again and you will find it on your left hand side. Thank you officer was the reply!! 

Thankfully, Super Mac (Jim MacMaster) rang me one day and asked if I wanted to go on traffic so I jumped at the chance.

Barry in Traffic Department

 

Other than the major incidents of the 70s era, a few personal incidents stick in my mind. Robert Llewelyn Allan was wanted and had been for a while. One day I clocked him in his Morris minor in the vicinity of Court Street. A pursuit ensued, albeit at a slow speed during which I was rammed and side swiped, resulting in the police car looking like a dodgem car. Ernie (Moniz) was not amused. 

Another night I was with Bruce Bingley when we were sent to a report of a boat having collided with a concrete airport light support in the middle of Ferry Reach. Sure enough there was the boat lodged at a 45 degree angle. Knowing Bruce’s swimming capabilities, I stripped off to swim out and told him to hang fire and I would shout out the situation. Shortly after arriving at the boat, I heard this thrashing noise in the water. Looking behind me I saw Bruce making this tidal wave as he swam out to the boat. To see it was so funny. Fortunately he made it and I didn’t have a further casualty on my hands. There was only one serious injury and luckily for us a member of the Biological Station across the other side of Ferry Reach was able to bring their boat across to rescue the people. We ended up at KEMH with the injured, and Ernie Moniz turned out in support.

'D' Watch Traffic circa 1982-3 
L-R  Wayne Hodgson, Iain Morrison, David Smith, Barry Higham,
John Dale, Eddie Davies, David Cook.  
 

I enjoyed all the people I worked with, Davie (encyclopaedia Bermuda) Kerr (what was his collar number!?); Eddie Foggo, (has the ceiling in Ops been repaired yet?), Steve Peterson, Dick Coulthard (who later became an expert on shoes), radar Roger Kendall, (I think the highest was about 65mph), Ray Bell, ‘Tango’ Burgess, Arden Cato (I always felt very safe when I was with Arden), gentleman Mike Burke, Erskine Warner, Dave (cool as a cucumber) Smith, John Dale - the list goes on.

I remember one day talking to Erskine, who I got on well with, in Ops yard. I can’t remember specifically what about, but I was probably winding him up. I blinked during the conversation and on opening my eyes in that split second I found a size 10 shoe about six inches from the front of my face. I learned a lot from that experience. There was no malice intended.

I always enjoyed my sports at school, but on leaving I became somewhat lazy. In Bermuda I did start playing squash and tennis but it came at a time when I needed a kick up the backside! One day I saw the rugby squad training and I approached Bill Butterworth about joining them. Having never played rugby the idea was just to get fit. I have to thank Bill and Tom Gallagher especially, but also other members of the team because not only did I get fitter than I had ever been, I enjoyed several years of playing rugby together with overseas tours and social events.

 Barry in action for the Police Rugby Team

 

I left Bermuda somewhat abruptly really, but I think it was time to leave and there were personal reasons. But I have never regretted my nine years on the island and overall it was an experience of a lifetime. I returned to the UK with no job. I applied to rejoin Lancashire and on interview was told they had one vacancy and did I want it. The position was at Blackburn and I was back on the beat for the next 15 months. There were about 10 on the shift, with four car beats, and it was a matter of waiting your turn to get one. I enjoyed my stay there and obtained a commendation (my only one) for the number of arrests made. I was promoted to Sergeant in 1984 and sent to, would you believe, Padiham, where I had started my career. Padiham went through many boundary changes but eventually ended up taking over the western part of Burnley. I enjoyed the variety of work so much that I stayed there for the rest of my service, retiring in 2002. 

I separated from Jo in 1997 and later divorced. I am now living with my partner Lynne and her son Daniel (29). Lynne is ten years younger than me and will have to work another 3-4 years before retirement. Daniel has his own construction business which he started just before the recession hit. He is keeping going in hard times and hopefully things will improve shortly. 

Back to work. Of course there were many incidents, but the one I will be remembered for was the arrest of a man who was wanted for burglaries in West Yorkshire and East Lancashire. He had a specific M.O. and he had been evading us for ages. Most of the offences only involved the theft of small items of jewellery and cash, but then it was discovered that items of ladies underwear were going missing. With two of the lads I decided to do observations in the locality of the first offence he had committed in Padiham . It was dark and I was in my own car and parked up in a side street. Three hours later this guy arrives in a car and parked immediately in front of me without seeing me. He disappeared down a back street with torch in hand. Briefly, this was our man and he was eventually convicted of 148 burglaries. He was from West Yorkshire but had a caravan on the outskirts of Burnley. In the caravan were found two large bags containing ladies underwear. Each to his own!! 

The miner’s strike was an historic event and I was there when the famous ‘Battle for Orgreave’ took place. (details on web site)

After retirement I decided that I just had to do something. I am now a self employed painter and decorator and normally work 2-3 days a week, more dependent on weather conditions. The last 8 months however have been quiet. It must be down to the present financial climate, it’s definitely not the quality of work!!! 

I have been golfing for the last twenty years with my lowest handicap being 12, but now creeping upwards, presently on 14. I have enjoyed many golfing holidays in Spain and Portugal and presently I go twice a year in March and October. 

Since returning from Bermuda, I have spent most holidays in either France or the Canary Islands. I really enjoy driving through France and we have been to all corners of the country. We spend winter holidays in either Tenerife or Lanzarote where the weather is normally very good in January and February. We have enjoyed extended holidays in USA Australia Dubai Mauritius and this year to Malaysia, plus city breaks in Barcelona Paris Madrid Prague and Krackow. Lynne and I have also enjoyed walking in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales and we have walked the Leeds to Liverpool Canal, 125 miles, but not all at once!!

Barry and Lynne with Dick & Jenny  Coulthard
taken on visit to Australia in 2004 
Barry and Bruce Bingley get together with Dickie Coulthard
when Dickie was visiting the U.K.  Bruce had just undergone a
serious stomach operation from which he has now fully recovered
 
 

Last year I walked Hadrian’s Wall over 7 days with a colleague, and this year Lynne and I are doing the West Highland Way, Glasgow to Fort William, 95 miles over 7 days. Davie Kerr assures me it is a spectacular walk. Hopefully we will meet up with Davie for a couple of hours at the end of the walk. 

I’m sure one day I will return to Bermuda, perhaps in conjunction with a trip to New York, but it is not on my agenda at present, although the way time is passing I will not have to leave it too long. I have really fond memories of my time in Bermuda and I wish everybody, wherever you may be, good health and happiness.

 

 


Comments  

#3 Tallis 2020-10-08 14:35
Hi Gudge. Tallis here. We're still in Derbyshire. Would love to hear from you. Regards N & J

Editors note - We weren't too sure about this comment under Barry Higham's article but we passed it on to Barry and it turned our that "Tallis" and "Gudge" were the nicknames of Barry and his old mate who grew up together and last saw each other way back in 1972 . Now they're in touch with each other again they plan to get together as soon as this darned virus has run its course! Hopefully they won't have too much time to wait.
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#2 Gisela Redman 2014-05-12 18:05
Hi Barry - just doing some family tree research and trying to find a long lost cousin - born John Barry Matthias - his mother's maiden name was Higham - she was my grandmother and she reverted back to her maiden name. Could we be related?
Kind regards
Gisela Redman (nee Higham)

Editors note - Hi Gisela. Will forward your message to Barry to make sure he receives it.
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#1 Terry 2014-01-20 15:51
Amazing how one finds these profiles and comments.
All the best my friend.
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