The Diary: Father Of The Force copper is remembered by city academic

Dr David Clarke, who has researched the superstition surrounding Friday the 13th.

Dr David Clarke, who has researched the superstition surrounding Friday the 13th.

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ONE is a university lecturer known as Spooky because of his official investigations into paranormal activity. The other was a 19th century Sheffield copper nicknamed The Father Of The Force because of his senior rank and handling of the era’s most terrible crimes.

Now David Clarke, that’s the former, is researching the life of the latter, Inspector Jacob Bradbury, for a new book.

“He was Sheffield’s Inspector Witcher,” says the Hallam Uni journalism course leader. “He was a fascinating character, yet he has been written out of history.”

During 45 years on the force from 1851, Bradbury, of Highfield, investigated everything from axe murders to ghost sightings. He was on duty the night of the Great Sheffield Flood in 1864 and investigated the 1876 Banner Cross murder of Arthur Dyson by Charlie Peace.

“If you go through old Sheffield newspapers he’s mentioned in virtually every big story of the age,” says David, 45, of Walkley. “But there’s nothing about him in the city archives - not even a picture.”

He will include a biography of Bradbury, who died aged 72 in 1897, in his new book of Victorian mysteries - “as long as I can find out more.”

He’s asking Sheffielders with information to email at david.clarke@shu.ac.uk

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