Webley RIC revolver British Bulldog 1450CF
Material: blue steel, walnut
Organisation: Royal Irish Constabulary
Source: Police Museum
The Webley revolver was the standard issue firearm for many of the armed forces in the British Empire. The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) adopted the 1867 Webley Mark I revolver for its efficiency and reliability. From 1868, the Mark I was known as the RIC Model and carried the force’s initials. Webley produced a number of versions (marks) of the RIC Model including this British Bulldog.
The Webley British Bulldog revolver was introduced in 1872, its shorter barrel made it ideal for concealment in a coat pocket and it was used by “disposable men” or plain clothed detectives in the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the RIC. Its introduction coincided with the establishment of the RIC Crime Special Branch. The unit was set up to investigate political and security-related criminal activity throughout the country and consisted of six divisions of specialist detectives. Following the 1886 Home Rule riots, the number of special branch officers stationed in Belfast increased to twenty. By 1890, the RIC Crime Special Branch consisted of 42 detectives tasked with shadowing Nationalist and Republican activists and recruiting informants. The unit gathered intelligence on suspects and sent it to the county inspector. The inspector compiled the information into monthly reports which were forwarded to Dublin Castle (the administrative centre of British rule in Ireland). At Dublin Castle the reports were used to produce “personality files” on leading suspects.