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Maggie Bird

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Maggie Bird
BornMargaret Edwards
(1949-07-13)13 July 1949
Barry, The Vale of Glamorgan, Wales
💀Died17 July 2009(2009-07-17) (aged 60)
East Surrey Hospital, Redhill, Surrey17 July 2009(2009-07-17) (aged 60)
🏳️ NationalityWelsh
Other names
💼 Occupation

💵 Salary :
📆 Years active  1993–2009
👔 EmployerMetropolitan Police
Vice Chairman of the Metropolitan Police History Society
👩 Spouse(s)John Bird

Margaret Bird (née Edwards; 13 July 1949 – 17 July 2009) was an archivist and lecturer for the Metropolitan Police and curator of the Metropolitan Police Historic Collection.

As curator of the Metropolitan Police Historic Collection, Bird transformed what had become a disorganised hoard into a well structured and well ordered collection.[1]

Bird worked to secure greater public access to the Metropolitan Police archives and her efforts culminated in the first public exhibition being opened by the Commissioner at the Police's Empress State Building in Brompton in 2009. Bird was notable for her extensive knowledge of the Metropolitan Police archives and was frequently a source of information to those researching the Jack the Ripper murders and the history of the Police Force.[2]

Early life[edit]

Bird was born on 13 July 1949 in Barry in The Vale of Glamorgan, the only child of Peggy and Emrys. Emrys' job as a mental health nurse kept the family moving about and as a child Bird lived in Malvern in Worcestershire, Fareham in Hampshire and Stockport in Cheshire. She remained proudly Welsh and her Welsh accent would come out when speaking to anyone from her home country.[1]

Career[edit]

At sixteen, she signed up as a police cadet. On 24 January 1966 she became a member of the Stockport Borough Police Force and began a life-long association with policing.

Bird became a police constable in the West Mercia Constabulary working at Little Comberton. She was medically retired in 1973 following an injury whilst arresting a criminal.

Metropolitan Police[edit]

Bird joined the Metropolitan Police civil staff on 17 April 1979 beginning her career at Islington Police Station. She moved in 1993 to the archives branch forging connections right across the organisation and beginning her interest in, and notable appetite for, police history. Bird was a recognised expert on the history of the Metropolitan Police and frequently lectured on the subject.

Bird's approach to her work combined a passion for police history and heritage, with friendliness and a sense of humour, especially for the absurd: colleagues who consulted her could find themselves conducting further telephone discussions in the style of characters from the radio series Round The Horne.

Bird's vast knowledge of the subject, her dedication to the work and the high regard with which she was held within and outside the Metropolitan Police, led to her appointment in 2005 as the curator of the Metropolitan Police Historic Collection, a post she called ‘The best job in the world’.

The job also could be something of an ordeal, on one occasion sorting through the stores Bird discovered 100 old crates containing 1,500 redundant police truncheons, which Bird had to contextualise. "Ancient truncheons, handcuffs and the uniform worn by the first TV cop, Dixon of Dock Green, are all on display at the Met Collection, which will also act as a recruiting centre for the police."[3]

Bird became the public face of the Police archives, not only for the on-going interest in the case of Jack The Ripper, she also appeared on television in the series Who Do You Think You Are in which she had to explain to actor Jeremy Irons that his policeman ancestor was a bit of a black sheep.

Bird was secretary of the Police History Society. A job she originally took on for three years, and continued until her death. She was also vice chairman of the Metropolitan Police History Society, assisting the chairman in efforts to broaden the Society and increase the membership.

Personal life[edit]

She had married a fellow police officer, Roger Barker; they later divorced and Bird moved from Stockport to London where she worked in the office of St. Bartholomew's Hospital Nurses Home. Whilst waiting outside a pub to escort home an inebriated room-mate, she met John Bird, who was due to go to Australia to get married, but as a result of meeting her, he went to tell his fiancée that his plans had changed, promising her that he would return to marry Maggie. John Bird and Maggie were married on the 3rd July 1981 at Finsbury Registry Office. A son, George, was born on 11 November 1981.

Bird was an associate Samaritan, supporting her husband John in his work for that organisation. Bird's charm and character were apparent even if she just turned up at training sessions to make the tea, John found that the trainees rarely remembered what he had taught them, but they all remembered Bird. Bird was also a long-term member of the Cliff Richard Fan Club, and through her lectures, she playfully promoted an interesting theory that Jack the Ripper was a woman.

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Margaret Edwards Bird, 1949 – 2009, A Tribute at Her Funeral, Surrey and Sussex Crematorium, 30th July 2009, by Superintendent Simon N. Ovens, Metropolitan Police.
  2. The Guv'nors: Ten of Scotland Yard's Greatest Detectives, Dick Kirby.
  3. "New museum looks back at 200 years of policing in London", The Guardian, 22 June 2009. Retrieved 16 January 2020.


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