Tribute paid to 19th-century police hero
PUBLISHED: 17:05 07 December 2012
»A memorial service was held for a policeman killed on duty 130 years ago, after his grave was discovered in Hackney.
On the anniversary of the crime, police officers – including Hackney borough commander Matthew Horne – councillors and members of the public attended the service at Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington Church Street, Stoke Newington, for Pc George Cole, who was 28 when he was killed in 1882.
The Met officer was shot dead by a 21-year-old thief he had caught trying to break into a chapel in Dalston.
The story of his death and his burial site only recently came to light thanks to volunteer researcher Keith Foster working for the Police Roll of Honour Trust, a charity which keeps alive the memory of British police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Mr Foster said: “Living locally, I was able to focus on officers who lived in the area. There was a strong possibility George was buried in the Abney Park Cemetery.
“It took four months to find his gravestone. I started looking in June and I found it in October.
“It’s a lucky coincidence that I found it just before the anniversary of his death.”
Niall Wair, rector of St Paul’s West Hackney, in Stoke Newington High Street, led tributes at the service. Pc Cole had “put his life on the line to make our lives safer”, Mr Wair said.
“He stands in a long line of officers who lost their lives in the call of duty.
“We stand here remembering that George Cole was an example of such a person and police officer.
“To this day, there are still people who are prepared to give their all.”
Mr Horne said: “It’s nice to remember a fallen colleague.
“Every day, Hackney officers are going round on duty. The dangers that these officers face on the job are the same as in the past.”
Pc Cole lived in Rosebery Place, Dalston, now the site of Dalston Junction Overground station, during the early part of his career.
He was survived by his wife of seven months, Elizabeth Chidgley.
His murderer, Thomas Orrock, was sentenced to death at the Old Bailey in September 1884 and hanged at Newgate prison the following month.