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The Metropolitan Police force, established in 1829, was the largest in Britain and grew steadily throughout the later 19th century. Historians of the Met have paid little attention to the outlook and activities of ordinary constables, about whom there is little evidence. But in my possession is the notebook of one constable, who was my great-grandfather, Rowland Hunt. The notebook lists his duties, while on beat patrol, point duty or special service. In Lambeth, which was a centre of working class trading, criminal activity and popular culture. Most incidents recorded in the notebook related either to drunkenness or to traffic collisions. Hunt also acted as a community support worker and was posted to the local gasworks during the gas workers strike. He avoided expressing a partisan political view but was, in his private capacity, a strong Conservative. Like many other recruits from rural areas, Hunt did not gain promotion but remained in the Met until he was entitled to a pension after 25 years’ service. Throughout his service he retained close links with his rural homeland.

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