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013 Metropolitan Police Whistles

Spotlight > Whistle Categories > Police > 013

For many beginning collectors, using Collecting Police Whistles by Martyn Gilchrist might be a leap too far right now. Yet there may be a real interest in police issued whistles and nowhere to start on a smaller scale to learn about them. Here is presented your starter group. And the best thing ?? These are original whistles that are pictured in that book. Now you can study them up close for free and if you decide you want to take the next step, you can buy the book too. We have thrown in several others to fill in some of the gaps. So what we have here is MP1 through MP11. There are more after these, but these are the most significant and they set the bar for all the rest of police whistle collecting. You may know already that MP stands for Metropolitan Police. Perhaps you are thinking that many cities are called metropolitans. True, but in 1884 Europe, London was one of the big three ( four if you count Glasgow ) along with Paris and Berlin. As England was the world power at that time, its influence was felt in whistles seen in and around the world. However, especially in England,  Metropolitan stood for London. There were about 9 million people there turn of that century. The police force was changing over from ‘rattles’ to whistles and this Metropolitan Police whistle manufactured by Hudson’s there emerged as the whistle of preference by this premier police force. True, there were other manufacturers of police whistles. Yet, it was Hudson’s that set the bar for everyone. Looking back before them, at the same time period and later after them, makes it in reality a pivotal point in whistle making history. So it goes…. First off, Hudson made whistles devoted to the Metropolitan Police a whistle name that became iconic.  Others were made that said Metropolitan and lacked the word Police on them and thereby were ‘general service whistles’. In time Metropolitan stamped whistles were also coupled with the stamp Fire Brigade, Asylum. Prison, etc. and were indeed for special use also. With specifically the Metropolitan Police whistle, we find that by lining them up for decades and recording all of the changes, they can be classified into numbered steps (with variations of course). We will consider just the first 11. From 1884 to 1908 MP1 through MP13 were made. That amounts to 25 years of whistle production and at least 13 changes over those years coinciding with the first three addresses out of a total of four location changes.  The first stamped address was 84 Buckingham Street, the second was 131 Barr Street, and the third was 13 Barr Street. They would later move to 244 Barr Street where they reside as a company today. Broken down in order we see: 84 Buckingham – MP1 & MP2…..2 whistles – they were here only very few years, 131 Barr street – MP3 —  MP6…..3 whistles – they were here 4 years,  13 Barr street   — MP7 – MP13….7 whistles – they were here just over 10 years MP4 was made by Bent & Parker and also included here ( although not the one picturered in the book CPWs ). Let’s start with two group pictures. The first picture displays the following: MP1 – original ( pictured in CPW ) MP1 – refurbished mouthpiece, stamped number ( a variation, not pictured in CPW ) MP2 – publicly issued ‘registered’ – no inspection mark, not numbered – original has inspection mark  and numbers ( not pictured in CPW) MP3 – original ( pictured in CPW ) MP3 – refurbished mouthpiece, but no stamped number ( not pictured in CPW ) MP4 – original ( not pictured in CPW ) MP5 – refurbished and stamped with number ( pictured in CPW )

Now let’s look at 6 more… MP6 through MP 11 are the originals pictured in CPW ) and we will go over the changes whistle by whistle. Only MP5 and MP11 have two piece tops, so we will note most often mouthpiece changes. The main reason for refurbishment was that the internal disc that separated the air out the two windows was in its infancy of development and was weak at first. The improvements were made and then retrofitted as the need arose. By that time the mouthpiece had changed from a cast mouthpiece to a machined ‘rolled’ edged mouthpiece. ——- All great for collectors to track !!!

So now that the entire group is pictured,  let’s look closer at MP1… To do this we will size the picture larger so you can see well and jump to the next page. Also a close up of the stamp will help to make comparisons to what you have and to classify. Joseph Hudson first resiided at two previous addresses and made whistles there for a decade. However it was 84 Buckingham that bore the stamp of his first mass produced Metropolitan Whistle. The mouthpiece was cast as well as the top piece. The internal disc attachment to the partition was weak  even though soldered. When small wings were added to the sides ( or partition ) in 1885, it gave much better soldering points and made it inside quite a bit more likely to stay put. It may help to look at the SPOTLIGHT on ‘whistle parts’ to see what is meant here.


At first the numbers were engraved down the side as seen in the next picture and originally they had to be inspected and stamped as such on the ring. Both can be seen next…

Now let’s look at an MP1 not pictured in the book. It is an MP1 refurbished with a replaced mouthpiece only, which allowed access to replace the internal parts. You note the shape of the mouthpiece and if you looked inside you would see a little bit of rolled edge that was done by machine which saved a lot of labor.  Since the top was kept, it still has the inspection mark. Many times the two piece top is found dating the refurbishment even more recent.


Compare the two side by side now…

We would like to show you the MP2 from the book, but there are only two known examples with inspection marks and numbers and even one of those is refurbished. They are genuine Metropolitan Police whistles. Others that are the identical, but without those inspection marks were made for the public that are otherwise exactly alike. Immediately after this the public issue was stopped. So ones can be found as this one without an inspection mark or numbers, that look like a genuine police issue.


And now compare the MP1 with the ‘would be’ MP2 as follows…

The real MP2 would look just like this, but have that inspection mark and numbers you looked at on the MP1 earlier. Why go on about it ?? —- It is an easy mistake to confuse the two. After this came the MP3 made at the 131 address. Circa 1885 and note the word patent now added. This was for patent number 435 related to the improvement in internal parts.


Here is the inspection mark on the original MP3.

We picked up a refurbished one not pictured in the book to compare to as follows on the right … and compare mouthpieces.


The MP 4 was a segway of sorts jumping sideways in time to another maker who tried to edge in and ended up pulling out. This was Bent and Parker. Only a couple thousand were made.

MP 5 has a replaced top and mouthpiece. Also a stamped number was added. There was no engraved number going down the backside as on MP1, MP2 and MP3. Otherwise it is like an MP3 stamped front.


Check out the much later replacement parts that date the changes to circa 1920.


MP6 was produced between MP3 and MP7 which would date to 1888, as the first one produced at the 13 street address. So that would date MP6 as 1885 to 1888 next… last of the 131 addresses. We note that the word patent has moved lower and the numbering is different.


The next change would be the earliest 13 street address production whistle as follows…


MP8 would look just like MP7, however a significant change would be to the diaphragm and therefore date it to 1898 when that patented internal part would be filed and used in the next whistle. It is now changed in from the patented 435 to the patented 19700, although the word patent is still on the whistle it applies to two differnet patents, depends which year it was made. Confusing ?? Note also the change in PATENT location in the stamping . Now, to really confuse you, there are MP8 whistles that had the old 435 patented diaphragm to use up — So we would occasionally see MP8 whistles with either internal component.


MP9 would come in two flavors. A smaller numbered lettering ( pictured ) and those with larger numbers. Straighter lettering you can examine too.


A repair was made to the N in metropolitan, and shifting occurred in the facial stamp in MP10


Last of the cast top caps in the series created here following the book of Collecting Police Whistles from the UK, was the MP11 and viewed here, as a closing set of pictures in our SPOTLIGHT of a full and close up pic.


All in all it can be a lot to take in. In the end though, it is all just made up isn’t it ?? They weren't issued on purpose by Hudson to do this, but recognized by a great eye for whistles and a talent for catagorizing. You see that there were a lot of changes and Martin Gilchrist did a wonderful job of recognizing a tremendous opportunity to track and stabilize a run of whistles that were made for decades, thereby creating a ladder to climb through time. Doing so created more opportunities to fill in gaps and spin off whistles, feathering into a wide array of whistles — all from the iconic Metropolitan Police series. When one then considers Metropolitan Police whistles more closely, we see that the many that came before, during and after are now of much more interest. Next comes the study of the manufacturers, and ultimately collecting those takes on that same challenge. That in turn perhaps grows into much more of what might have become lost or forgotten 'whistory' or whistle history. The pivotal Metropolitan Police whistle has its own spin offs, as mentioned earlier with Prison, Asylum, GPO ( general post office ) School Board ( truancy ) and others. Beyond that comes even further spin offs. That would be based on Constabularies, Burghs, Counties, and Shires. Then would come the military. The impact of this category has far reaching effects in the world of whistle collecting. And what a stimulus to branch out into other whistles. Although a rather long SPOTLIGHT, we hope you benefit from all the research here and come back time and again to check and recheck your finds. Accuracy is everything, but it is all based on research isn’t it ?? As always all comments and even more important to us here are constructive suggestions that we hope to incorporate for the benefit of all, are always invited. TWG


Posted May 4, 2013

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