Page last updated on: Saturday, 3 April, 2021.

Gatehouse developed during the second half of the 18th century, reaching a peak population of 2700 in 1845, after which it declined gradually to its current level of about 950.

Despite this, Gatehouse didn’t have its own police station until sometime between 1861 and 1871 (per census returns).

It’s likely that policing of Gatehouse was based in Kirkcudbright, but we don’t know what form of transport was used other than the railway.

In 1851 a young constable was boarding at a house in High Street, but that does not seem to be the case in 1841 or 1861.

So probably sometime in the 1860s, accommodation was acquired in Victoria Street to house the policeman and his family as well as having cells in which to detain those who transgressed the law.

The Deeds for 10 Victoria Street, indicate that there was a feu disposition in May 1864 by Horatio Granville Murray Stewart and in favour of The Commissioners of Supply for the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. The Commissioners were the "managing authority" for the police at that time and the feu appears to refer to the land that the Old Police Station and the Old Fire Station occupy and may well have been a gift rather than a sale. This ties in well with the fact that a police station first appears in Gatehouse in the 1871 census.

Censuses between 1871 and 1911 give us the names of policemen who were based at Victoria Street. You can see from the birth places of the children that police officers moved around the district on a regular basis.

Enumeration District 3 Page 3
Surname Forename(s) Rel. Mar. Sex Age Occupation Birthplace
Police Station
head m m 32 police constable Kbts, Kirkcudbright
Thompson Joan Jardine wife m f 33   Kbts, Kirkcudbright
Thompson Jessie Jane dau.   f 5   Dumfries, Tinwald
Thompson Grace Jardine dau.   f 3   Kbts, Dalry

Enumeration District 3 Page 6
Surname Forename(s) Rel. Mar. Sex Age Occupation Birthplace
Victoria Street - Police Station
head m m 37 police constable Kbts, Rerrick
McGill Ann wife m f 40   Kbts, Twynholm
McGill John son   m 10 scholar Kbts, Castle Douglas
McGill Jane dau.   f 9 scholar Kbts, Colvend
McGill James son   m 7 scholar Kbts, Maxwelltown
McGill Samuel son   m 6 scholar Kbts, Maxwelltown
McGill William son   m 4 scholar Kbts, New Abbey

Enumeration District 3 Page 1
Surname Forename(s) Rel. Mar. Sex Age Occupation Birthplace
Victoria Street 3
head m m 37 police constable Kbts, Kirkcudbright
Halliday Agnes wife m f 39   Kbts, Balmaghie
Halliday George son   m 12 scholar Kbts, Maxwelltown

Enumeration District 2 Page 1
Surname Forename(s) Rel. Mar. Sex Age Occupation Birthplace
Victoria Street 3, police office
head m m 45 police constable Dumfries, Tinwald
Henry Matilda wife m f 47   Kbts, Dalbeattie
Henry Elspeth dau.   f 10 scholar Kbts, Dalbeattie
Henry Herbert son   m 8 scholar Kbts, Castle Douglas
Henry Wilhelmina M dau.   f 5 scholar Kbts, Kirkcudbright
Henry Nathan M son   m 3   Kbts, Gatehouse
Henry Jane D dau.   f 1   Kbts, Gatehouse

Enumeration District 2 Page 1
Surname Forename(s) Rel. Mar. Sex Age Occupation Birthplace
Victoria Street
head m m 34 police constable Kbts, Tongland
Rennie Mary wife m f 39   Kbts, Urr
Rennie Jessie dau.   f 16   Dumfries, Dumfries
Rennie William son   m 13 school Lanark, Motherwell
Rennie John son   m 11 school Kbts, Troqueer
Rennie Norval son   m 8 school Kbts, Dalbeattie
Walker George Albert nephew   m 7 school England

There may well have been more policemen in Gatehouse in between successive census returns.

William Muirhead was the Gatehouse policeman between 1921 and 1928. He was born in 1892, joined the Kirkcudbrightshire Constabulary in 1913, served at Gatehouse 1921 to 1928, served elsewhere in the Stewartry until local government re-organisation in 1948 created the Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, where he served until his sudden death in 1950.
After he had moved to Mainsriddle, he and Thomas Tait who succeeded Muirhead at Gatehouse, were both selected to represent Galloway at the National Parade of Police at Hyde Park, London.

The photo below, showing Gatehouse Police Station before the dormer windows upstairs, is of Constable Willie Muirhead, his wife Ann and his father.

The only transport available to Constable Muirhead was a bicycle and he used to meet the Creetown Officer at Auchenlarie.

The Police Station in Gatehouse was the only house with an all-night ‘phone and anyone who needed to contact the Doctor at Kirkcudbright came to the Police Station to use the ‘phone. If the constable was out his wife had to deal with callers, and she had to search female prisoners.

After the last publically-available census in 1911, we have to rely on Valuation Rolls to identify who owned which property and who lived where. Unfortunately, prior to 1940 these returns did not include the police station – maybe because any rates payments (if there were any) might have been paid directly to the relative council.

From later Valuation rolls we find the following constables who were living at 10 Victoria Street.

1900-01 Herbert Henry

1930-31 Thomas Tait

1940-41 Donald Proudlock

c.1941-50  Hugh McCorkindale

c.1950-60 John McClymont

1960-61 John R Thomson

1960s  [ex Sheila Wallace]  ? Duncan

1974-75 William Scott

The photo below was taken in 1962 and it shows that dormer windows have been added and that a wall still separates this property from what became the Old Fire Station.

More recent policemen who occupied 10 Victoria Street are :-

Dennis Strange – dates unknown

? McGinley – dates unknown

Alan Ruddick – start date unknown, until about 1988

Mike Kneeshaw – 1988 to 1991

Harris Campbell – 1991 to 1995

Ian Bradley 1995 to 1999

With few exceptions, all one-man police stations in Dumfries and Galloway were closed in 1999.

On the closure of Gatehouse of Fleet Police House/Station, a temporary police station, shared what is now “The Kiosk” with the Tourist Information Centre by the car park. This was manned from time to time by the Kirkcudbright and Gatehouse of Fleet Area Community Officer Constable Iain Currie.

This was eventually closed and now there are no police buildings within Gatehouse of Fleet.

PC Hugh McCorkindale
PC Donald Proudlock
PC Mike Kneeshaw
PC Ian Bradley

Gatehouse Old Police Station taken in 2016.

The photos below are of the old Auchencairn Police Station. The similarities between Gatehouse
and Auchencairn suggest that the buildings were probably purpose-built and to a common design.