The Later Hero Policeman

Victoria Wines
Trouble? I’ll say there was!

This photo appeared on Tuesday 6th December in the Express & Stars MEMORY LANE – by Toby Neal.
Obviously like the many young employees at the Star these days who haven’t the time to spend researching the history of these photo’s, Toby hadn’t realised the significance of this scene the caption reads: ‘Uh-oh, there’s trouble – people are milling around in the street with just a lone policeman with his bicycle in view, attempting to restore calm.’

The picture dates from around the mid to late 1960’s, because Victoria Wines has a sign outside celebrating its 1865-1965 centenary.

Trouble I’ll say there was!

Express & Star Headline
They walked and died on the pavements of Wolverhampton.

The aforementioned picture was first placed in the Star accompanying these headlines on Friday August 20th 1965.

“Wolverhampton hunt for a killer” said the E & S reporter.

A Wolverhampton policeman was stabbed to death as he questioned a young man in Princes square. Dectective Sergeant Jim Stanford aged 40 and married with three children died minutes after the incident in a shop doorway.

Beverleys wine. shop.
The Wine Shop.

This was the Wine shop in 1961 before it became part of Victoria Wines and it was in that shop doorway the fatal incident happened.

Incident Office.
The Incident Room.

A friend of mine, a serving officer was on duty in the information room at Dunstall Road Station which at the time was the force Headquarters. and this is his account of that day.

In the incident room At 1-10pm the red light indicating an incoming 999 call flashed.

I picked up the phone and a womans voice said “Get an Ambulance quickly” she sounded quite hysterical. I could hear in the background a mans voice saying “I’m dying missis”, and he mentioned a mans name. I sent car 8 to the scene and the message came back that it was DS Jim Stanford who had been stabbed.

I sent a P. C. upstairs to the conviction record office to see if there was a card in the file for the man Jim had called out and indeed there was, he was a local youth so I arranged with a Detective Constable standing by to wait near his home and for the two dog vans to search the area between his home and Broad Street.

He was described as a man who knew no fear, and the stabbing of Jim Stanford initiated the biggest manhunt the town had ever seen, but the youth did not make his way home or flee the town, as everyone would expect him to he went to the pictures.

Gaumont Cinema
Gaumont Cinema, Snowhill… the scene of the arrest.

The Gaumont on Snow Hill where again he did the most peculiar thing. He went into the Gent’s toilet and showed a man in there a knife. He then said to him, “I have done a copper with this”. This witness then followed the youth to where he was sitting and then went to the manager’s office and asked him to call the police.

Three detectives joined the witness in the cinema who showed them were the youth was sitting and an arrest was made. It was later found that he had absconded from a Borstall Institution at Feltham.

The film incidently was Mr Moses starring Robert Mitchum and Carroll Baker.

Bushbury Church
Bushbury Church.

The last tributes to dead policeman ran the headlines.
Wolverhampton today mourned Detective Sergeant James Stanford hundreds of people lined the route as the coffin was borne from his home in Winchester Road Fordhouses to St Marys Church Bushbury for the service.

Mourners started arriving there an hour before the 11.30 start They included all ranks of policemen leading citizens of Wolverhampton and neighbouring areas, and men and women who simply went along to pay a last simple tribute to the murdered policeman.

In his address Mr Lowe the vicar of St Mary’s said every one had felt a sense of tragedy and shock at the death of Sgt Stanford and we mourn the loss of one who fell in the line of duty, he declared “His death was as gallant as any soldier who died in the war, and we should give thanks for his life which was dedicated to duty for his fellow men”.

Mr Lowe said an ounce of help for the family Sgt Stanford had left behind was worth a ton of sympathy, and so a collection taken in the church today was to be donated to the Mayor of Wolverhampton’s appeal fund.

After the church service Sgt Jim Stanford was cremated and is interned on the large cross at Bushbury Crematorium…

He was later awarded the Queens Police medal (posthumously).

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9 comments

  1. Just stumbled across your blog while trying to find out how noisy it is to live on Merridale Road (fascinating eh?).

    I think I remember this funeral as 7 or 8 year old living on Elston Hall Lane. I remember my mother closing the front downstairs curtains and explaining how it was a tradition to do so when a funeral procession passed. Not a tradition I’ve heard of since, but I’ll be looking into it as soon as I have posted this.

    Interesting blog, you’ve got yourself a new reader!

    Steve.

  2. Hi, been told this story a number of times by my dad. My grandad was DS harry smith of Wolverhampton police and apparently Jim Stanford had been on of his closest friends and had to interrogate the killer (I’ve also been told he hung him out a window when he wouldnt confess, but could be exagerattion). I’ve also heard that the killer was the first person in Britain not to be given the death penalty for killing a policeman, is this true?

  3. I was PC 106 of the Wolverhampton Borough Police. On the day of the incident l was off duty. I took my girlfriend to the Gaumont on the evening but before l did so, l called into Birmingham Road Police Station and spoke to the inspector, Brian Simpson,as l recall his name. I was told that no other officers were being called out so, off l went to the Gaumont. We had not been in there long when l went to thr front to get some cigarettes. Just then a squad car pulled up out side with PC’s Gordon Jones and Stan McDivitt. They said to me ‘He’s in here’ The next thing was the CID and Crime Squad turned up. Some of them went through the doors into the auditorium. I was told to stay in the front. The doors were locked and the next thing was a rugby scrum came out with the suspect shouting something like ‘ I won’t cause any trouble’
    Within weeks he was found ‘Guilty’ and sentenced to death.

  4. My dad (Malcolm Eden) was a young PC at the time and knew Jim Stanford very well. As did my granfather who was a superintendent (Joe Bartley). My dad met Stanford on the day of the incident and Stanford said ‘I see David has absconded’. He was referring to David Wardley. Just an hour later Stanford came across Wardley and was stabbed while tryiung to arrest him. The guy was incredibly brave. Knowing his wound was fatal he made a dying declaration as evidence and named the killer. I also heard that Wardley tried to stab the arresting officers inside the cinema. I believe he served a meagre 9 years for the offence!!

  5. I was recalling this incident the other evening with my brother a retired police officer. I was only 9 at the time and my brother about 18. Our dad Det Cons Frank Fieldhouse was a serving officer with DS Jim Stanford at the time. I believe he was one of the CID unit that arrested Wardley in the Gaumont. I can also rember seeing the funeral, and could still probably take you to the name plaque on the crosss in Bushbury crem. I believe Wardley was found guilty of murder but didn’t serve many years, unbelievable!

  6. I was with Det Sgt Jim Stanford in court the day he was killed. I was attached to the CID at that time. We left Court, and Jim said for us to meet up again back at the Red Lion Police Station at 6.00pm. I carried on Home, Jim (As he usually did) carried on up through Queens Square to have his usual Lunch in the Town. This was the last time I saw Jim. On returning back to Wolverhampton from visiting my Wife’s parents, I was to go back to the Station to meet up with him at 6.00pm.I was told that he had been stabbed and was dead. I too helped with the search for the Killer.I was also a Pallbearer at his Funeral. Col Dodd PC 139

    1. Hi Andy,

      I am a reporter at the Express & Star in Wolverhampton, are you or one of your family members able to get in touch with me about putting together a feature on your father?

      My email is kimberley.crayton-brown(at)expressandstar.co.uk

      Kind regards,

      Kimberley

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