A Noel Guthrie Acrylic on canvas

A Noel Guthrie Acrylic on canvas
The Cockabully Hunters --- from an original painting by Noel Guthrie

Monday, 27 March 2017

Patrolled the beat on his favourite bike

Patrolled the beat on his favourite bike

Malvern Police Station
Grey scale watercolour by Noel Guthrie

On New Zealand’s main West Coast road, between Springfield and Sheffield, at a little place called Annat, the original Malvern District Police Station was first established in 1870.  In 1984, its remains could be seen slowly crumbling away amongst the trees, I wonder if it is still there?
In those early years, Annat was a bustling railhead, servicing a large area and it was Sergeant William Wheatley who first took up this post  
Constable Charles is said to have joined the Police Force in 1876, at Christchurch.  Later that same year, he became attached to the Malvern Police District as a member of the Mounted Constabulary and was assigned to relieving at various outstations within the Malvern Police District.

During 1878 Constable George Catmill transferred to Malvern Police Station.  Along with his brother, he had served in the Royal Irish Constabulary.  They both immigrated to New Zealand in 1874, joining the Christchurch Police shortly after.
It was a tragic loss for the people of the district and the Malvern Police in 1884, when George Cartmill, a highly respected and well-liked constable, met his death in an unfortunate accident in the railway shunting yards.

In 1892, the Malvern Police Station changed its name to Sheffield.  Seventeen years later in 1909, the name changed again, this time to Annat.  Then in 1915, the police station was transferred to Darfield, where new stables and a lockup were built.
Of all the police personnel to serve this district, I am told one of the most noted constables was J.P.Larmer, I gather by some of the stories told, he could well have been of Irish descent?  Hence known as 'Paddy', by some.  
He transferred from Otira in 1950 and was to spend the next twenty-one years on the beat, patrolling Darfield astride an old pushbike.  His territory expanded as smaller stations, such as Coalgate closing and those rural areas extending as far as Alyesbury to the east, Bealey to the west, the Waimakariri in the north, and the Rakaia to the south.

Later those licensed premises in the rural townships of Kirwee, Sheffield, Springfield, Coalgate and Hororata, saw his old Wolseley 6/80 car regularly patrolling these areas.  Those outside the law rarely escaped the notice of Constable Larmer.  
Regarded as a second constable by the locals, Mrs Larmer should have been appointed to this position, according to some.   On more than one occasion, in her husband’s absence, Mrs Larmer was known to have made an arrest.  

During 1971, the Larmer family left the district.  In recognition of Constable Larmer and his service to the community, 500 people attended the families farewell at a function held in Springfield.

I must share a verse from a delightful poem written by a local farmer and read out at the family’s farewell.  It portrays the special place in which the locals held Constable Larmer in their hearts.

It goes like this: -
             Paddy ooh Paddy, wid yer beauty and grace,
                        Begorrah we’ll be missin yer vacant face.
                        Paddy ooh Paddy, I’m telling yer plain
                        We knew nothing of crime till praise be yer came
                        Paddy ooh Paddy yer can say what yer like
                        It won’t be the same wid out yer and yer bike
                        Paddy ooh Paddy here’s long life and health
                        To Josie and Anne and of course yer good self
                       And ever yer chance to fall foul of the law
                       May yer sentence be light and the evidence poor?
                       And if ever begorrah yer should end up in jail
                     The people of Malvern will always find bail.

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