Film screening: How Do You Fix A Town Like Plymouth?

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

  • Jill Craigie Cinema, Roland Levinsky Building

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Back by popular demand – Rob Giles (producer) and Kim Stevenson (presenter) are rescreening their ESRC Festival of Social Science docudrama film ‘How Do You Fix A Town Like Plymouth?’ Many students and other colleagues who missed it have asked for it be reshown following a fantastic reception at the first event and overwhelmingly positive feedback.

The one hour film is about Chief Constable Joseph Sowerby’s (1892-1917) role in clearing up the city as the youngest chief constable ever appointed and features cameo roles from law staff and students. 

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. 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.

This broadcast quality biographical production will depict the life and times of uncelebrated Plymouth hero, Chief Constable Joseph Sowerby. Research conducted for previous ESRC festivals (2015, 2016) revealed the importance of Sowerby’s contribution to modern policing strategies.

Over 100 people attended the first showing and over half of those were members of the public who gave the following comments on feedback sheets provided.

“A well thought out piece of research, I hope to see more presentations like this in the future”

“Extremely informative and enjoyable”

“A very informative and interesting film which was well presented and enjoyable to watch particularly with dramatisation being included”

“Absolutely brilliant film, thoroughly enjoyed it and truly compelling”

“Excellent film, deserves to be widely shown, very interesting local subject matter”

This event is free to attend and open to all. Please book your place via the above link.

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Today's events

Biography: Rob Giles

Rob joined the University of Plymouth in 2005 having previously worked as a 3D crime scene reconstruction specialist on over 30 cases 2003-05. Rob has worked in partnership with Professor Kim Stevenson as director to produce an information film reflecting on Plymouth's sustainability, past and present for the ESRC Festival of Science 2015 and subsequently appeared on the ESRC website as an example of good practice and featured on the town centre big screen by Plymouth City Council.

Rob is a University of Plymouth BSc (Hons) Media Lab Arts graduate.

Biography: Professor Kim Stevenson

Kim joined the University of Plymouth in 2004 and formerly taught at Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University, for 15 years where she lectured Constitutional and Administrative Law and Sexuality and the Law; she has also taught courses as part of business studies, surveying, social sciences and criminology degrees. She was also a visiting professor at the William Mitchell College of Law, St Paul, Minnesota, USA and the Open University Hong Kong. 

Kim has published Sowerby articles for the Police History Society, presented conference papers and Sowerby was the inspiration for her lead-edited book Leading the Police: A History of Chief Constables 1835-2017.

Event photography and video
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