How Do You Fix A Town Like Plymouth

Chief Constable Joseph Sowerby, 1892–1917. Photographs with permission Graham Naylor, Plymouth City Library

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Join Plymouth Athenaneum for a double bill of film screening and discussion as part of its Winter Lecture Series. The discussion on 'Temperance in the Three Towns' is preceded by the film 'How Do You Fix A Town Like Plymouth?'. 

The 50-minute docudrama tells the story of Chief Constable, Joseph Sowerby. It was made in-house at the University of Plymouth by Time-Lock Productions, and produced and directed by Rob Giles, of the School of Law, Criminology and Government. 

This broadcast quality biographical production will depict the life and times of one of Plymouth’s uncelebrated heroes. The film was selected and awarded a Certificate of Appreciation at the DadaSahed Phalke International Film Festival in Mumbai February 2019 Best International Documentary Category taking Plymouth’s crime history to an Indian audience. 

Much of the detail of Sowerby’s life and times has been uncovered through research conducted by the University's Professor of Sociolegal History, Kim Stevenson, who will be leading the discussion on 'Temperance in the Three Towns'.

Born in Liverpool to the son of a landlord, Sowerby was brought up in Leeds where he rapidly rose through the ranks of the Leeds City Police receiving commendations for heroic rescues and arrests. Selected to head the Plymouth police force in 1892, Sowerby (29) was one of the youngest ever chief constables appointed nationally. He served until 1917 and died two years later. During his tenure at Plymouth, he earned the respect of the local populace by effectively tackling drunkenness, crime and bad behaviour head on. Sowerby’s long career with Plymouth was synonymous with several significant and high-profile events including the arrest of Mrs Pankhurst, temperance marches and campaigns.

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