Florence Mildred White

As part of this years Salisbury History festival, you are being invited to vote on five women, all connected with Salisbury, to find your favourite. Five essays will be published to assist you in making your decision. To find out more about this years Salisbury History Festival, please visit their website –  www.salisburyhistoryfestival.co.uk


Welcome to the first of five essays on women who have offered a real service to Salisbury. At the conclusion of the five, we will be giving details on how you can vote for your favourite – who will capture your imagination the most?

1. Florence Mildred White

Florence Mildred White is likely to have been the first woman in England to join the police force. Later she became the first attested woman to hold the rank of Inspector and the first woman police officer to receive a pension.

She was born at Warminster on 10th December 1873 and attended a private boarding school followed by a ladies college in London. She then took up a teaching post in Germany as a teacher of English, Italian and French.

After five years in Germany, she returned to England in 1906 and became a teacher at the Godolphin School in Salisbury eventually reaching a senior post. In 1914, Florence, aged 41, amazed the school by leaving for Bath where she joined a group of women who had started an unofficial Women’s Police Volunteers unit. In 1918 she returned to Salisbury to join the city Constabulary as its first female member where, under the guidance of Chief Constable Frank Richardson, she was attested meaning she had the same rights as a male constable, thus setting a nationwide precedent.

Stationed at the old police station in Endless Street, Florence rose through the ranks and by 1920 she was a Sergeant. Seven years later she moved to the Birmingham City Police and rose to the rank of Inspector. She stayed with the Birmingham force until her retirement in 1937.

Florence Mildred White died in 1957 but her name was raised again in 1977 when a new accommodation building was ready for occupation in the Salisbury City Police complex. It was suggested by Wiltshire Constabulary that it be named the Mildred White Building but unfortunately, the idea was never adopted. Perhaps your votes for Florence might compensate for this oversight?

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