General strike truncheon
In May 1926 around 1.7 million British workers went on strike in support of the miners, who were being asked to accept a 13% pay cut and lengthier shifts.
The strike was not successful; a number of special constables were recruited and many volunteers took on the work of those on strike. The miners were forced to accept the original terms and some remained unemployed for many year afterwards.
Truncheons are short wooden clubs traditionally used by police forces. They have been carried by watchmen, parish constables and subsequently policemen since the middle ages, and have been regarded as symbols of authority as well as a means of defence.
This highly decorated example belonged to Major Francis Stafford James, Chief Constable of Chesterfield Police 1925-1931. The truncheon bears the royal arms of King George V, alongside the borough seal and the banner: ‘General Strike May 1926’. It was issued following the strike, probably to recognise the part played by the Chief Constable during the strike. Major Francis Stafford James went on to become Chief Constable of Sheffield Police in 1931 until his retirement in 1941.