Volunteers at the museum are always on the lookout for items that enhance the heritage collection. Many long hours are spent searching auction sites and antique fairs to find that rare or unique item and occasionally it pays off.
Our most recent find came to light during a search on Ebay in the form of a mantelpiece clock awarded in 1928 to Bert Newcombe for assisting Birmingham City Police.
Following a little detective work of our own the incident was found in the local paper. On the 6th June Bert Newcombe was in his own front garden in Balmoral Road, Erdington, when he heard screams and upon investigation discovered a man had attacked a woman with an axe. He was awarded the clock for gallantry when he tackled the violent man and, having overpowered him, held on to him until police arrived.
The offender later appeared at court and was detained at his Majesty’s pleasure. Bert Newcombe was subsequently presented the clock by Superintendent Cook on behalf of the D Division and constables of the D Division Birmingham City Police for his assistance to the police.
We decided to look a little further into the life of Mr Newcombe and discovered this was not the only act of public service he was to undertake.
Born in 1889 in Leicester, by 1911 Bert is living and working in Birmingham – shown as working at the Aston Workhouse as a bath attendant.
In 1914 he married his sweetheart Florence Wilson, like many other young couples who perhaps contemplated the prospect that they might not return from military service.
In 1918 he appears on the ‘Absent Voter’s List’ as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd Worcestershire Regiment.
In 1919 Bertie and Florence had a daughter, Betty. It was Betty’s son Julian who provided these wonderful photographs of Bertie. He remembers the clock and said he wondered what happened to it!