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Death of P.C. Drake

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Death of P.C. Drake

Post by Karen on Tue 26 Jul 2011 - 1:12



With full honours, and amidst many impressive scenes, the remains of Police-constable Matthew Robert Bond Drake, of the City of London Police, were, on Saturday afternoon last, conveyed to their last resting place in Manor Park Cemetery, Ilford. The funeral cortege, consisting of a hearse and three mourning coaches, conveying the relatives of the deceased, left the vicinity of the Bishopsgate Police Station on its long, sad journey to the far East End shortly after the hour of one. Chief Inspector Hayes took charge of the arrangements for the departure, which was witnessed by a large and sympathetic crowd of onlookers. The coffin, covered with masses of beautiful floral tributes, was carried to the hearse from the residence of the deceased in Rose-alley on the shoulders of P.C.'s Lee, Nash, Robjent, and Clark. The wreaths came from all quarters. Each of the police divisions for the City in this way bore eloquent testimony to the esteem in which a departed comrade was held, and so also did several of the best known swimming clubs in and around the Metropolis. In addition, not to mention those from the members of the family itself, wreaths were sent by Dr. Gordon Brown (surgeon to the Force), the children of the Police married quarters off Bishopsgate-street, the staff of the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, Mr. Harry Davy (an old swimming friend), Mr. and Mrs. Levy, and many others. The coffin, which was embellished with handsomely embossed brass furniture, bore on a plate the simple inscription: "Matthew Robert Bond Drake, died 5th December, 1908, in his 43rd year."


The chief mourners were Mrs. Drake (the widow), the Misses May and Daisy Drake (daughters), ex-Sergeant Matthew and Mrs. C. Drake (parents), Messrs. Frank, Ernest, and Leonard Drake (brothers), Mrs. Spring and Mrs. Tomlin (sisters), Mr. Newson (father of the widow), Mrs. Lodge (aunt), Mrs. George Drake (cousin), and Mrs. E. Drake and Mrs. F. Drake (sisters-in-law). Meantime, while the funeral procession was making its tedious progress through the endless streets of the East End, a strong detachment of officers and men of the Force, drawn from all districts, and numbering probably not far short of 250, together with a numerous contingent of civilian friends of the dead swimmer, had travelled down by train from Liverpool-street to Manor Park, and outside the cemetery gates patiently awaited the arrival of the cortege. The officers present were Superintendent Nicholls, Chief Inspectors Duke and Seaton, District Inspectors Sherring, Sanders, and Lester, and Station Inspectors Reeves, Tanner, Claro, and Vennard, in addition to a considerable number of sergeants. The world of natation appeared upon the scene in imposing strength. Mr. Montague Holbein, of Channel fame, was there, and so also were representatives from the following swimming clubs: - Zephyr (J.W. Dean), Thistle (G. White), Southwark (J.W. Newell), G.P.O., St. Martin's-le-Grand (W.G.P. Taylor), Chelmsford, Enfield Victoria (D.J. and W.E. Miller), the Amateur, Tottenham Court-road, Otter, Victoria Park, and Serpentine (A. Perren). Others present were Professor A.E. France (winner three times in succession of the amateur long distance championship), ex-Detective-Inspector F.W. Downes (one of the founders of the swimming section of the City Police Athletic Club), J. Drake (cousin of the deceased), and Professor Tom Arnold. In addition to names that have already been mentioned, there attended the following swimmers of all ranks from the Force itself: - Sergeant White, Detective-Sergeant Newell, Acting Sergeant Rutland, and P.C.'s Innocent, Greenop, Horton, Rawlings, Held, Nuggett, Miller, Lester, Windett, Dear, Southwell, and Barrett (amateur heavy-weight wrestling champion of England). Nor in dealing with the general attendance should mention be omitted of the fact that the Fire Brigade, between whom and the City Police friendship has always existed, were represented by a small contingent of men. It was shortly after two o'clock when the funeral procession reached its destination, and by that time the presence of the police in such strength had drawn together a large concourse of the general public. Now it was that the impressive scenes that were to follow commenced. As the cortege appeared in sight the police drew up in rank, with officers to the front, and the fine band of the Force took up position opposite the cemetery gates. Upon the arrival of the carriages the order of the long procession was quickly formed. At the head marched the band, under Bandmaster-sergeant Robinson, playing with solemn effect Beethoven's "Dead March"; then followed the hearse with the coffin; next the chief mourners on foot, and the serried ranks of the police; and, last of all, files of other mourners, and a straggling crowd of spectators.
At the mortuary chapel entrance the body of the deceased was borne into the edifice on the stalwart shoulders of Acting-sergeant Rutland and P.C.'s Innocent, Greenup, and Horton, all of whom, it may be noted, are members of the swimming section of the Athletic Club. The service in the chapel was read by the Rev. J. Weaver, the cemetery chaplain, in the presence of a congregation which filled the building almost to excess in every part. The portion of the sad ceremony over, the procession reformed, and to the melodious music of Chopin's "Marche Funebre," made slow and stately progress towards the open grave destined for the reception of the deceased policeman's remains.
At the graveside, around which the mourners thickly clustered, the remaining rites were solemnly enacted, and then, last of all, by way of an impressive finish, the band played with touching effect the music of the mournful hymn, "When our heads are bow'd with woe." It was altogether from beginning to end a most striking and appropriate ceremonial. At the finish the crowd of mourners and others rapidly dispersed. The relatives drove off in their coaches, while the police left the cemetery grounds in marching order. Once outside the gates, the band struck up a spirited march, and in this fashion Police-Constable Drake's old and staunch comrades once again reached the railway station, and were soon en route back to town. The whole function can, indeed, without exaggeration, be described as one of the most impressive ceremonials of its kind that has occurred in connection with the City Police for many years, and the arrangements throughout were really admirable.
By the sad death of Police-Constable Matthew Robert Bond Drake, whose portrait we here reproduce, the City Police have unquestionably lost the cleverest swimmer their ranks ever produced, and whose many notable achievements in the element he loved so well were frequently up to the best championship form. Drake's career as a swimmer was in every respect a truly remarkable one. He held the quarter-mile police championship for the United Kingdom from 1889 to 1897 inclusive, while in 1892 he carried off the long distance championship of England from all comers. In the two succeeding years, however, though coming in second each time, he was beaten by the redoubtable world's champion J. H. Tyers. the deceased also figured in the City Police teams that won the 500 yards river championship in 1896 and for several years successively afterwards. Amongst other almost innumerable performances where he swam to victory, he also held in course of his noteworthy career the following further championships: - Scientific swimming, flying squadron, life saving, and junior and senior water polo. In addition he joined one of the noted City Police water tug-of-war teams which won every competition against all comers for nine years in succession. In every respect a perfect master of the art of natation, he was one of those selected a few years back to give a display of life saving in uniform before the King at the Bath Club. Nor should mention be omitted of the fact that within a quite recent period he was one of the four City policemen chosen to swim the Channel in relays. The inclemency of the weather, however, prevented the attempt from being made. Drake's last big swimming feat occurred last year, when in the 15 miles through London race he, in spite of his 42 years, managed to finish eighth, and amongst the London competitors stood second. For some years, it may be mentioned, he was the captain of the swimming section of the City Police Athletic Club. Born at Yarmouth during the absence of his father, ex-Sergeant Drake, in Dublin, at the time when the latter was serving in the Coldstream Guards, the deceased constable entered the City Police in September, 1886, and was attached to Moor-lane, where he remained until the end. Ever exceedingly popular amongst his comrades, poor Drake's sad death at the London Hospital through an attack of pleurisy has occasioned universal regret in circles that extend far beyond the ranks of the City Police. By the latter he was simply idolised, and the keenest sympathy is felt with the bereaved family.

Source: The Shoreditch Observer, Hackney Express, Bethnal Green Chronicle, and Finsbury Gazette, December 19, 1908, Page 2

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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