West Midlands Police Motor Cycle Display Team
In 1967 Joe founded, and led, the
West Midlands Police Motorcycle Display Team, which was a
big attraction at many events such as fêtes and
carnivals throughout the region and further afield. He
was the obvious candidate for the job, a first class
motorcyclist with many years of experience, and also an
ex-competition rider for the Wolverhampton Motor Cycle
Club. Joe is also a life member of the T.T. Marshals
Association. For many years he went to the Isle of Man
to help control spectators and keep the roads clear for
the famous T.T. races. Joe also rode for the British
The display team in action.
Courtesy of Joe Davies.
The West Midlands Constabulary had
just been formed, and this was seen as a way of bringing
the lads from the amalgamated divisions together as a
cohesive unit. Until this time the divisions tried to
operate independently of each other, rather than as part
of the new force.
“A Pc from Smethwick saw the
Metropolitan Display Team somewhere, and put in a report
saying we were a big force and ought to have one. My
inspector at Smethwick rang me up and said “Gaffer,
there’s a report here from this PC on the traffic. It
might miss you and end up going through the division.
They want to form a motorcycle display team.” I said
“That could well end up on my lap” and he replied
“That’s why I warned you.”
|Nothing came of it for a few weeks,
until Mr. Goodchild phoned me in April 1966 and asked me
to go and see him.
He said “Right up your street Mr.
Davies, you’ve got the experience, do the force good. I
want to think of something that will weld this force
together. They’re pulling in all directions, they’re all
trying to go in their own direction. This might be one
of the things I can do to bring everyone together. Don’t
think of picking a group of men from here, you must
spread it around.”
I had to go to each town, they were all traffic
division lads, all bike men. I hadn’t got to know some
of them very well.
Another breathtaking stunt.
Courtesy of Joe Davies.
The pyramid. Courtesy of Joe
|I had started to get them doing football matches,
but the divisions didn’t like them leaving the boroughs,
they were possessive. It took a long time to move them.
One way I was able to do it was football matches. I
got the backing of the chief, and beat them at the end.
If I could get the chief behind me they were snookered.
On a big football match day we were stripping a town
completely of morning and afternoon shifts. Come tea
time there were no motorcyclists out, nor on the morning
before the match.
|I wanted to have two men from each division to cover
a match so that the lads will get to know each other,
and the town will still have a morning and afternoon
shift that isn’t touched.
We were having a lot of bad
accidents on Birmingham New Road, which we covered from
Bearwood through to Wolverhampton. It ran through
Smethwick, Dudley, and Wolverhampton. There was no
coordination, so I got the chief again and asked if I
could have one man from each division at my disposal. If
I could put five on the New Road it would be perfect,
you needn’t have cameras, they could deal with all the
offences. I wanted to get them together under one
command. The chief went along with it.
We did alright with the display
team. We did it for quite a few years, after which I
handed over to a chief inspector, but I did ride once or
twice as a superintendent when he wasn’t available. It
was like sitting on the edge of a volcano with that
team, we were riding standard bikes as well as
Standard bikes on grass, fully
equipped, were heavy if you dropped one, they weighed
about 5 cwt. We had a marvellous time. The chief used to
come. They allowed us to practice at the race course
every Sunday morning. Mr. and Mrs. Goodchild used to go
to St. Philip’s Church in Penn Fields. He used to come
straight to Dunstall Park to see the lads who got to
know him. They had never seen a chief constable like
him. The lads from other places couldn’t believe that we
had such good sergeants who were dedicated bike men.
They loved it and loved working with Sergeant Perks and
Left to Right: Bob Currie, Midland
editor of the MotorCycle magazine, Sergeant Dave Gibbs,
West Midlands Chief Constable Norman Goodchild, Chief
Superintendent Douglas Peterson, Chief Inspector Joe Davies,
and Sergeant Ken Perks. Courtesy of Joe Davies.
I had an agreement with everybody
when they joined the team. I told them that there are
two men for every spot, I wouldn’t move them around. If
you don’t come, your opposite number has to come, which
wasn't popular with the ladies. Sergeant Dave Gibbs'
opposite number was Sergeant Ken Perks, and mine was
Sergeant Tom Pritchard. We
used to do a pyramid. I was in the middle. If you are in
the middle three, they were pulling on your tunic,
britches, the lot, anything they could hang on to. At
the end of the ride we used to come round, form up, and
being the senior officer I would salute the mayor or
somebody. They would ride off and I would park my bike,
and be invited into the V.I.P. tent for a glass of wine.
Eventually we formed a proper
traffic division and they all left their divisions and
came completely under our command, operating from
garages in Wolverhampton, Walsall, and Brierley Hill.
Unfortunately it didn’t last because the new Chief
Constable Sir Edward Crew sent them back to their own
Superintendent Joe Davies leading
the British police riders and the other competitors in
the 1973 Circuit des Pyrenees, through the centre of Pau.
Courtesy of Joe Davies.
The eight BSA A65T machines that
were delivered to the Western Traffic Division at
Brierley Hill in 1967. The riders are Left to Right: Sgt
Perks (Wolverhampton), Pc Marshall (Walsall), Pc Bennett
(Smethwick), Sgt Gibbs (Bilston), Pc Cutler (Dudley), Pc
Abbiss (Dudley), and Pc Rolfe (West Bromwich). Courtesy
of Joe Davies.
The West Midlands police team in the 1970 Auto-Cycle
Union national rally. Left to Right: Superintendent Joe
Davies, Sgt T. Pritchard, Pc J. Rabone, and Pc D.
Harper. They won the International Club trophy for the
best team performance. They were also awarded a special
plaque for obtaining maximum marks in the 600 mile road
route, and for visiting 34 check points throughout the
country. Sgt Pritchard also gained third place in the
overall classification for machines exceeding 500cc.
A Final Promotion