Bravery comes in many guises and Robert Tissyman is an example of that rare person who, despite knowing that his actions will have dire consequences for him and his family, nonetheless does what he considers to be the right thing.
Tissyman joined Liverpool City Police in October 1894, having been born in 1869 and worked as a miner in Yorkshire. By 1912 he had been promoted to sergeant and police records show him as living at 37 Albert Edward Road L7. (Priornto this he had lived at 72 Handfield Street L5) Given later events in his life it was somewhat ironic that in 1911 he would have been at the heart of the suppression of the Liverpool Transport Strike, a dispute which greatly soured the relationship between the Liverpool working class and the police. One feature of that dispute was the realisation that police wages were often less than the striking workers and moves began to organise officers to press for improvements.
Tissyman was an enthusiastic supporter of the then newly formed National Union of Police and Prison Officers and became its Liverpool leader. In 1919 the NUPPO called for national strike action and Tissyman gave the call his full backing. In fact outside London and Merseyside there was little response and the London action lasted less than a week. The strong support in Liverpool was in part due to the conditions of service in the city being particularly poor. With wages lower than a labourer’s officers also had the burden of being required to live in ‘respectable’ areas with consequent higher rents. Often required to work unpaid excess hours there was also much resentment that promotion favoured those who had not walked the beat and was heavily influences by Freemason and sectarian interests. Tissyman was convinced that the strike would have wide public support and the backing of fellow trade unionists. In this he was sadly disappointed.
On 1st August the Liverpool Watch Committee issued an ultimatum that officers not reporting for work would be dismissed. About half of the force did not return to duty and were all summarily dismissed and required to return their uniforms to an ever-growing pile at St George’s Hall. The Chief Constable would later report that nearly 1000 serving officers had been dismissed. With the force halved mobs hit the streets of the city in a wave of looting which resulted in 350 being charged with various offences and the introduction of 3000 soldiers to maintain order.
Robert Tissyman like his striking colleagues lost his job, his house and his pension. Whilst he might justifiably have been disillusioned by his experiences he instead threw himself into union and political activity, becoming a Labour (later Independent Labour) councillor. He died at Whiston Hospital in 1936.
In the 1930s Robert Tissyman was living in Wavertree at 52 Eastdale Road L15, later moving to live in Huyton.
Tissyman's home in the early 1900's
Tissyman's home from c. 1911 to 1919.
Tissyman's home in the early 1930s.
© Liverpool Footprints