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021 Early Hudson GSWs

Spotlight > Whistle Categories > GSW > 021

Some Hudson ‘whistles never put into general production’ is written on page 41 of CPWs (Collecting Police Whistles, by Martyn Gilchrist), along with a picture of four whistles. How early were they made and at what address one wonders ?? From Martyn Gilchrist’s records retrieved, along with Simon Topman, we understand that Joseph Hudson started working at 12 years of age. He worked in the 1860s at Bent and Parker and learned how to make military oranments and whistles. 'Outworking from ones own home was common in the trades and Hudson may have started this was from 7 House, Court 3, Bell Barn Road ( Birmingham's Industrial Heritage 1900-2000 ) marrying in 1871 to Jane Walker. In 1874 he moved to 17 Mark’s Street in the St Mark’s Cottages. He stayed there until 1882 when he moved to 84 Buckingham Street close to the Jewelry District.

The question begs to be asked, —- what whistles did he make in those 12 years prior ?? He and his brother would register a corkscrew whistle combination during those early years at his second addreess. CPWs also notes that he made handmade whistles and corkscrews there.

The challenge comes to identifying whistles made by Hudson in those early years, what would come to toal 12 years. The whistle on the far left shown in the  picture in CPWs pg. 41, came up on eBay, but unfortunately we could not afford to get it at the time. Another very remarkable whistle came up that had the windows very high up on the whistle body towards the ring. It looked to be another early Hudson. In respecting copyrights we will show what we can.

First we will look at an overall picture posed just like the book, however missing the one on the left.

Then we will look at each whistle individually for close examinations and hopefully derive some conclusions in our constant effort for accurate research.


Right away you can see that there is a similarity in a period of workmanship, to these. The other two mentioned above also match this period and style. Comparatively you can take in the size differences. The missing one on the left ( from CPWs pictured group of four ) is similar to the first one here on the left, but a little taller. 

What to look for in the first one is that it is very skinny — quite unusual for Hudson whistles until much later in production. It is a very high quality whistle. The top knop is also unusual for Hudson. Its influence with the top knops can be seen in early Dixon rounds, but also can be seen in Ward rounds. To find it on a GSW is unusual. The attachment at the top is set back with a slight reveal and inset edge and beyond that it has a tall knop.

A partition is used which would date it no earlier than 1870 for Hudson ( yet Stevens was using partitions prior to 1870 ) and yet Gilchrist lists all of these as circa 1900s. We can only think that this must be from records at Hudson’s. Otherwise the influences and styles speak of a much earlier period as the following indicates:

Consider the mouthpiece being cast. It is also long for such a small whistle. The inside is well crafted and smooth and the disc is cast which was stopped in production by 1885. This would not match 1900, but brings us back to circa 1880, pre or post, as cast parts like these were left behind by 1885.

The windows are very low cut and just not seen on later models, nor any others for that fact, but effectively give the whistle a sleek longer look even though it is  more on the petite side.

Now let’s move on to the remarkably wide GSW. You can’t help but be impressed with the ‘bulk’ of it. It isn’t as heavy as it looks, but rather light. The ring is soldered closed, usually a sign of a better quality manufacturer and this one does not disappoint.

We see a simple round knop. Round knops were seen late 1800s by Yates and by Hudson and a very few others, all of which ceased by the turn of the 19th century. Hudson did use it on some scouts post 1900 ) However as cast tops they went out of production by 1900. Moteably we have here a very thick, cast 'disc' like wedge  set against a partition. The mouthpiece is cast. However the application to the body is set back with a most definite reveal to it, making it look like a ‘step’ to the design. Here we see some influence from Yates who was very active in the 1870s, 80’s. Each of the cast mouthpieces is very deep blocking viewing the side walls inside the mouthpieces.


Lastly we close in on an indisputably early whistle. A Porteous top with round windows. What influences do we see here ?? Definitely Stevens, and from earlier Porteous himself, can be seen in the shape of the 'Porteous' top, however Dowler is seen too. All were active in the 1880s. It is nothing like later Porteous tops that Hudson made, especially when they moved towards 2 piece ones by early 1900s.

The windows would definitely date this whistle earlier, as the only influence we see here is from Beauforts which date back from the mid 1800s or even earlier. In fact do we know of any other GSWs made with round windows ??


Of particular interest is the diaphragm being a cast wedge-like design. It is a very thick disc/wedge hybrid, perhaps experimental. The application is done as a wedge, but it is flattened off when looking into the mouthpiece although extremely thick at 4mm. Interestingly in coversations with Martin Gilchrist he matches it up to the patent ( 435 ) stamped on many KING whistles ( which are large beaufort whistles with round windows ) with the same design. However in closely examining many King whistles, only one was seen with a cast , thicker disc which had the Hudson stamp on it pertaining to 435. The dsic is half the thickness and clearly stamped HUDSON on one side looking inside the window and PATENT stamped on the disc looking in the other window ( for the 435 patented disc change ).

That would date the GSW in question whistle to 1885 or later. But does it ?? The KING whistle designed by Hudson can be found with PATENT stamped on it many times and yet is has the wedge still inside ( 6 out of seven examined ).  Were there so many KINGS made at that time that old parts were being put in ?? Not likely. Few KINGS can be found as it is. And they do date clear back to pre Barr street address times at 84 Bucks.  Add to this that the disc is cast, quite thick and no ‘wings’ or tines are attached to the partition for soldering and stability to the sidewalls—the main reason for the improvement to replace the ‘shaky’ Metropolitan designed partitions and discs that came loose 1883-4.  All these are troublesome parts of what the patent that was filed for ( and described ) and yet still exist in this GSW..

What conclusions might we draw ??  Well let's recap some of what we have examined…

  1. Influence by early manufacturers like Yates, and Stevens circa 1870-80
  2. Cast mouthpieces, — which went by the wayside by 1885 ( except in King whistles )
  3. Unique designs later abandoned ( i.e. windows, step backs, tops )
  4. Very high quality handmade whistles.
  5. Internal parts that were cast and also abandoned by 1885

When we put together the evidence points more towards 17 Mark’s Street or 84 Buckingham, rather than circa 1900’s. If we were to keep them placed circa 1900 it would place these ‘retros’ manufactured at 13 street Barr address.  Perhaps the next time a few others surface we will be better able to afford them and add to this section and hopefully there will be an even better window into this time period.


Posted September 1, 2013

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