Road naming honours hero Blackpool police officer
It will be a beacon to modern crime-fighting - but Blackpool's new police station will also ensure the bravery of a former officer is never forgotten.
For its official address will be Gerry Richardson Way in honour of the superintendent killed in the line of duty tackling armed robbers in the resort.
Joining dignitaries at the official unveiling of the road sign on Thursday were Supt Richardson’s widow Maureen and two other officers who were also on duty on that fateful day on August 23 1971.
Mrs Richardson said she hoped the decision to name the access road to the West Division Police Headquarters off Clifton Road, Marton, in honour of Gerry would mean his heroism would live on among future generations of police officers.
She said: “I think Gerry would be very honoured by this gesture because it is a sign to where all the police are based, and that was his family and it’s my family.
“And young officers, who never knew Gerry, will ask about it and get to know about what he did.
“We are onto generations who didn’t know Gerry first hand, but they have him as their hero.
“It’s like the war heroes, we should never forget those who have made the final sacrifice for others.”
Assistant Chief Constable Terry Woods, who unveiled the road sign along with Maureen, said it would act as a reminder of the sacrifice made by Supt Richardson, and also as “a stark reminder of the risks our officers face on a daily basis in the course of their duties.”
He said: “We wanted a lasting and enduring memory to Gerry.
“We had done other things to honour him, but naming a road that will be used by generations of officers, and the public, to reach this police station is very important to us.
“It is for the public of Blackpool, to drive past and understand Gerry made the ultimate sacrifice to protect them.
“And our officers are prepared to still make that sacrifice today to protect the public.”
Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: “The name Gerry Richardson has become a byword for the dedication, commitment and service that we deliver but also for the sacrifice police officers make in keeping the people of Lancashire safe.
“So it is absolutely right to see him commemorated. It is so fitting Gerry Richardson Way will be used by all officers and the community arriving at this building.”
Following his death, the Superintendent Richardson Memorial Youth Trust was set up in his memory and has since distributed Â£280,000 in grants to help young people in Blackpool.
Trust chairman Jeffrey Meadows said they were proud he was being remembered.
He added: “This will help the trustees ensure Gerry’s legacy lives on, benefiting many young people in the future.”
The first officers are due to transfer to the Â£21m new police station in July from their current headquarters on Bonny Street.
Nine gallantry awards were presented to officers who responded to the raid at Preston’s jewellers shop on The Strand which culminated in them chasing the robbers on foot.
Supt Richardson was shot twice in the stomach at point blank range and died of his injuries later that day, aged 38.
Ian Hampson and Kenneth Mackay, who attended the unveiling of the sign, were also on duty.
Mr Henson, then a PC, recalled: “I remember very vividly what happened that day.
“I went to the job, the alarms go off and everyone pointed up the road to this car.
“I was in a panda car and we chased two of the robbers through a few streets.
"They stopped and I stopped and then one of the robbers, Spry, shot me. I ended up on the floor.
What I can remember is lying there and this woman said, ‘don’t worry we have the car’s number’.
“The memory never goes away. Every second of that day, I can remember.”
Ken Mackay, then a sergeant but who went on to become Blackpool’s chief superintendent, was involved in the arrests.
He drove a car at two of the robbers before continuing the chase on foot.
He said: “I drove the car at them. One went over the bonnet and tried to shoot me with the gun which had been used on Ian.”
Without a thought for their own safety, Mr Mackay and fellow officers overpowered the robbers, bringing them to the ground and arresting them.
Mr Mackay said: “I don’t think courage comes into it, you just do what you are trained to do as a police officer.
“I’ve no doubt officers today would do the same thing.
“But it was an unprecedented incident when you bear in mind nine officers received awards, and that has never happened before or since.”