In Print

Malcolm Corsie ~ 1858-1927

His Retiral and Death

Inspector Corsie’s Retiral. Sketch of his Career

From the “West Lothian Courier” of Friday Nov. 4th 1921

On Tuesday last week, Police Inspector Malcolm Corsie, Broxburn retired under the age limit from the West Lothian Police Force, in which he has spent the long period of 37 years and 7 months.

The subject of this little sketch was born in the island of Rousay, Orkney, and was the fourth child in a family of thirteen. His father was a tailor to trade in early life and in later years he took up farming. His death occurred but two years ago.

Having received his education in the Parochial School at Rousay, the boy left school at the age of 13 and for four years assisted his father in farm work. At the age of 17 he left the Islands and went to Aberdeen where for three years he pursued his previous calling. Then he heard the call of the West and went out to Canada. Again farm work claimed his attention for the most part, at the township of Scarborough near Agincourt about 20 miles out of Toronto. After 3 years, he returned to his home in Orkney and again went into the fields but he found the Islands much too quiet for his freshly acquired tastes. So he went South to Edinburgh and made straight for the County Building, having made up his mind to enter the Police Force. He was appointed on the spot and took up duty at Linlithgow on 27th March 1884. Capt. Munro was then Chief Constable.

The next four years were served between Linlithgow, Bathgate and Bo’ness. Champileurie Oil Works were in the heyday of their prosperity. After 11 months he was transferred to Uphall as Senior Constable and served there for three years. Uphall was a busy and a rather wild place in those days. Next he was sent to Armadale as Senior Constable and remained there for three years. There was a deal of work there at that time, scarcely a week passing without Court having to be attended. It was a common sight to see large batches of witnesses being driven down to Court in the old horse-drawn brakes. He was promoted Sergeant in 1900 at the close of the Armadale service, and was transferred to headquarters at Linlithgow as Office Sergeant. His duties there were the recording of crime, compiling statistics and generally keeping the Police Books – rather a big job in those days. Having occupied this job for 6 years, he was transferred to Queensferry and promoted to Inspector. There he remained for 8 years to a day. While stationed there his duties demanded the exercise of much vigilance, owing to the visits of the North Sea Fleet, when large numbers of men were sent ashore on leave and great crowds visited the Ferry to see the leviathans.

In the year in which Sir Charles Beresford visited the Forth with practically the whole fleet, the crowds that flocked thither were enormous. The ships lay there for over a fortnight, and on a certain Sunday the influx of visitors from Edinburgh and all the surrounding districts, and as far off as Paisley, numbered from fifty to sixty thousand people. The number of vehicles and bicycles was extraordinary, and as the day wore on, the place became congested. The inspector and his men kept all vehicular traffic on the move in one direction only, namely from East to West through the narrow thoroughfare. Thus regulated, the congestion was relieved, the huge crowds got rid of, and at the close of the eventful day it was found that not a single accident had happened. Exactly how the inspector managed to deal with the hordes of undesirables of both sexes who congregated in the town in those days, the writer does not know, but that he did ultimately succeed in clearing them out is well known. In 1914, about one month after the outbreak of War, Inspector Corsie was transferred to Broxburn. Previous to that, Broxburn was a Police Section under Bathgate, but it was then raised to the status of a Division and is now called a sub-Division. Notwithstanding the great circulation of money during the war period, and the large population, crime in Broxburn reached its lowest level on regard. It is now a place for respectable people to live in, and Inspector Corsie during his 7 years’ service there, has helped beyond the ken of many to make it so.

His motto has always been “Prevention is better than cure”. To detect crime was his duty – to prevent was his delight.

No police official in the County has come more into contact with Royalty and eminent personages than he has.

In 1864, 3 months after joining the force, he was sent to Dalmeny House, and was on duty there for two weeks during a visit by the late King Edward, then Prince of Wales, Queen Alexandra, then Princess of Wales, together with their family, including the Duke of Clarence and the present King and other members of the Royal Household. Also on the occasion of a visit by the late Mr. W. E. Gladstone, and in 1886 he was on duty in Lothian Road, Edinburgh, when the late Queen Victoria visited the Industrial Exhibition in the meadows.

The next important occasion was when the Ex-Kaiser of Germany visited Lord Roseberry at Dalmeny and went aboard his yacht “Hohenzollern’ at the Hawes Pier.

Later he was on duty when Queen Alexandra drove down to the Hawes Pier and joined the Royal Yacht there.

On the occasion of the opening of Colinton Hospital by the late King Edward, he was in charge of number of men at the entrance gates and he was also present at the opening or the Forth Bridge by the same Monarch. When King George and Queen Mary visited the Marquis of Linlithgow at Hopetoun House, he was in charge of the local police at Queensferry, who were responsible for guarding the road.

While stationed at Kingscavil, he was detailed for night duty in the corridors of Hopetoun House when the late Sir Stafford Northcote paid a visit there.

Among many other distinguished visitors to this Country, whom he was called upon to guard, was Li Hung Chan, the eminent Chinese Statesman.

During his long career, he had wide experience in criminal investigations and was called upon to deal with two local tragedies.

One thing he scorned to do was to encroach on the preserve of another police official, and the writer could narrate cases in which his name would have figured prominently had he cared to violate this principle.

He holds two Police medals – one given by the late King Edward and the other by King George, The latter medal was for good conduct and long service. Only three of these medals were given to the West Lothian Police Force.

He retires with a pension and has secured a cottage at Queensferry overlooking the Firth of Forth where he has taken up his abode. A lover of gardens, of flowers and of books, time is not likely to hang heavily on his hands.

Before leaving Broxburn, he narrated to the writer the following incident which he regarded as one of the funniest that occurred during his service. A Company of Volunteers were being paraded for inspection at Armadale. The Captain, passing along the line, found fault with a private for being untidily dressed. Incensed at this being put to shame, the private threatened to resign on the spot, and, suiting the action to the word, he doffed his busby, tunic and trousers and marched off the field clad only in his two remaining undergarments.

The Inspector was a man who commanded respect everywhere, was possessed of an amicable disposition, had a reputation for punctuality, a fine sense of humour and had great patience with the exuberance of youth. It was a grief to him when his duty compelled him to invoke the law against a boy or girl. His effort to maintain peace and order without undue severity was crowned with success.


From the “West Lothian Courier” – Friday April 1st 1927

By the sudden death of ex-Inspector Malcolm Corsie, which occurred after a very brief illness, on Sunday evening at his residence, Bridge View, Dalmeny, a well-known and much respected County and Local Official and one who identified himself in many ways with movements of more than merely local interests has been lost to the community.

Mr. Corsie was 68 years of age, retired from the County Constabulary fully five years ago and was living in retirement at Bridge View near the South end of the Forth Bridge.

He was a native of Rousay, Orkney, and joined the constabulary service on 27th March 1884. His whole period of service having been connected with West Lothian, Mr. Corsie was promoted to Inspector on 2nd Dec. 1906 and carried out his duties as such for eight years and for a similar period at Broxburn. He retired from the Service on 25th Oct. 1921 and took up his abode at Bridge View. Since 1921 Mr. Corsie has acted as Burgh Fiscal for Queensferry. He held the office of Elder in the Church of Scotland on coming to reside permanently in the district, joined the Kirk Session of Queensferry Parish Church of which he was a much respected member whose energies were directed to various channels tending towards the welfare of the Congregation and the furtherance of schemes connected with the Church. He was appointed representative elder to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and had recently his commission for the forthcoming Assembly in May. Among his other activities he was a very keen Free Mason and took an active part, not only in the various Lodges, but lent much appreciated assistance to the establishment of more than one Royal Arch Chapter.

Mr. Corsie is survived by his widow, a daughter and two sons for whom widespread sympathy has been expressed. His demise, since he was only laid aside on the previous Friday with a heart attack came as a shook to his many friends and acquaintances. The funeral took place in Bathgate cemetery and was attended by a large and representative company.