The Charlies

  • 21 Jan 2019
  • Worcester People and Places
  • Back

As one would expect in the centre of the town, the City had a 'watch' here who had a sentry-type box for shelter in the churchyard of St Nicholas Churchyard. This was before there was any regular police force. They were known as 'Charlie's, and they were usually old men, and a very inefficient body.

Practical jokes upon 'Charlies' were recognised pastimes of the young bloods of the period. A 'Charlie' was stationed nightly at Worcester bridge to keep a look-out upon people passing over the Seven, his hours being naturally divided between smoking and sleeping in his box. A group of young men found him asleep, and gently carried him down to the water's edge, and set him adrift on the river. It was not until the water seeped into his box that he awoke, and his cries brought watermen to his rescue. One of the Worcester 'Charlies' was secured in his box, which was upset upon the pavement, and he had to wait for the daylight when passers-by would release him - but he was not popular and they were in no hurry at all to do this for him.

Sometimes it was a more serious affair. In 1823, there was a fraternity calling themselves 'The Lambs', who used to infest the streets of Worcester at night, molesting peaceful citizens. Richard Hill, the last of the 'Charlies' in the City, received concussion of the brain in a night assault and lay near to death for sometime. He eventually recovered, but being unable to continue as a watchman, was made Beadle of St Nicholas Church.