Senior officer thanks public for response in search for Cumbria’s first female officer

Senior officer thanks public for response in search for Cumbria’s first female officer
Mabel Farrer (front centre)

Mabel Farrer (front centre)

This year Cumbria Constabulary is celebrating a century of female police officers.

To launch these celebrations the Constabulary appealed in January to find the first female police officer in Cumbria.

Detective Superintendent Cath Thundercloud said: “We have had a brilliant response from the public, with lots of fascinating information and photographs. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the public for their help, and we will be presenting our findings at various events across Cumbria.

“All the women mentioned to us were ground-breaking in their own way, and we owe much to these pioneering female officers. We are now seeing increasing numbers of women joining the police service, which will result in a more balanced force which represents the community it serves.”

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes said: “It is great to hear from the families of female police officers and the important roles that they had undertaken which set the strong direction for the force and has certain played a pivotal role in having such a good number of female officers in today’s workforce.”

21 names were provided by members of the public of women who may have been the first female officer in Cumbria. Below are some of the key women who have contributed to policing in Cumbria:

DATE NAME LOCATION NOTES
1916 Mabel Farrer Carlisle Possible first female Special Constable
1919 Mary Faulder Carlisle Possible first female Police Officer
1949-1960 Dorothy Dixon Kendal Update on previous appeal
1953 Euphemia (Fay) Bennett Carlisle Possible first female officer on single patrol
1966 Kathleen Park HQ Penrith(In 1969 moved to Whitehaven as a police officer) One of the first cadets
1994 Sue Pickthall Penrith First part time officer

Please note all the information given below has been provided by relatives/interested members of the public and has not been confirmed by another source.

Mabel Farrer

Mabel Helen Farrer b 1887

Mabel Helen Farrer b 1887

Mabel was one of the first women appointed to the Women Police Service in 1916, training in London.

She then became one of the first female police officers in Gretna, starting work in January 1917 and subsequently was promoted to Sergeant.

As well as being employed by the Women Police Service, Mabel was also sworn in as a Special Constable for Dumfrieshire, Cumberland, and the City of Carlisle. Part of her time was spent in Carlisle and when there she reported to the Chief Constable.

In December 1918 she was given the rank of Police Constable in the Northampton County Borough Police, with powers of arrest.

Certificate of resignation for Mabel Farrer, describing her as “exemplary”

Certificate of resignation for Mabel Farrer, describing her as “exemplary”

Mary Faulder

According to a letter in the Policewoman’s Review, Mary Faulder was the only policewoman attached to Carlisle Police in July 1930.

She was appointed on 25th March 1919.

Letter from Mary Faulder in The Policewoman’s Review

Letter from Mary Faulder in The Policewoman’s Review

Dorothy Dixon

As part of the public appeal in January it was initially believed that Dorothy Dixon was the first officer in Cumbria (serving 22nd January 1949 – 13th August 1960).
She grew up in Ambleside and served in Kendal.

Euphemia (known as Fay) Bennett

Euphemia Bennett

Euphemia Bennett

Fay served the City of Carlisle Police from the 8th February 1953 until 3rd October 1958.

Believed by some to be the first female officer – she wore the number 1PW on her epaulette (later a female police sergeant was recruited and allocated the 1PW because of her seniority).

She was possibly the first female officer to go on patrol on her own – in those days there were police boxes in various locations throughout the town and on housing estates where she had to report in.

Euphemia Bennett

Euphemia Bennett

Kathleen Park

Kathleen Park in her cadet uniform

Kathleen Park in her cadet uniform

Kathleen Park (then Balmer) was one of the first two female police cadets for Cumbria Constabulary in 1966.

She later went on to become a police officer, before leaving the force to have children. Her sons, Nigel and Martyn, are now both serving police officers with Cumbria Constabulary.

Her husband Phil Park MBE was also a former police officer with Cumbria Constabulary.

Sue Pickthall

News article about Sue Pickthall from Lakes Beat

News article about Sue Pickthall from Lakes Beat

In 1994 PC Sue Pickthall was the first officer to work part-time.

She returned to work six months after giving birth, and benefitted from the newly introduced policy, enabling her to work a 24 hour week instead of 40 hours.