Poignant service honours fallen police sergeant

A poignant rededication service has been held at the grave of a police officer who died in a riot in Alnwick more than 140 years ago.

Thursday, 16th May 2019, 2:00 pm
A service is held at the grave of police sergeant John Hately, who died in 1875 after being struck by a missile during a riot in Alnwick. Picture by Jane Coltman

Earlier this year, the Police Roll of Honour Trust launched a public appeal to replace the headstone at the grave of Sergeant John Hately.

The £3,000 appeal was successful and last Friday a service of rededication was held at Alnwick Cemetery.

At the service. Picture by Jane Coltman

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Sgt Hately died at the age of 38 on March 6, 1875, after being hit by a missile during the riot.

The original headstone was funded by subscriptions from his Northumberland County Constabulary colleagues and civic leaders, but it became badly eroded by the weather.

A retired police officer contacted the Trust for help and the appeal was launched.

At the service, the introduction and opening remarks were made by John Lovett, Deputy Lieutenant of Northumberland, and Winton Keenen, Chief Constable of Northumbria Police.

A bugler sounded The Last Post and Reveille. Picture by Jane Coltman

A reading was given by Allan Young and prayers led by the Rev Steve Edge, Northumbria Police chaplain, and Canon David Wilbraham, national police chaplain.

When the appeal was launched, Sid MacKay, chairman of the Police Roll of Honour Trust, said: “As a charity, we were very keen to provide the appropriate funding to replace the headstone of Sgt Hately.

“A retired Northumbria Police officer contacted us with a view to getting help with a replacement headstone which we were willing to do given the circumstances. The original headstone has been completely eroded by the weather and is entirely unreadable.”

Sgt Hately died following a riot at the Alnwick March hirings. The Alnwick Mercury reported that a drunken brawl broke out at the Angel Inn.

A police standard-bearer. Picture by Jane Coltman

Constables trying to take a man from the inn to the police station found themselves confronted with a 2,000-strong crowd, most of whom were drunk.

They used their staves to try to clear the way ahead and were joined by Sgt Hately.

Stones and abuse were being hurled at the police and in a bid to pacify the crowd, he instructed the constables to sheath their staves.

During the struggle, he was hit by a stone and collapsed.

The service in Alnwick Cemetery. Picture by Jane Coltman

A post mortem revealed that he had died of a heart attack brought on by the stress and exertion of the situation.

Winton Keenan, Chief Constable of Northumbria Police. Picture by Jane Coltman
The new headstone. Picture by Jane Coltman
Durham Police Brass Band provided the music. Picture by Jane Coltman