Obituary: Albert Ridgway, 89

Albert Ridgway introduced CCTV at Tynecastle. Picture: contributed
Albert Ridgway introduced CCTV at Tynecastle. Picture: contributed
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Chief Superintendent Albert Ridgway, former police divisional commander, has died, aged 89.

Born in Edinburgh on October 31, 1924, the elder son of Hector, an electrical fitter, and Elizabeth, née Nixon, Albert Ridgway was educated at Balgreen Primary School and Boroughmuir High School. He often stayed with his grandmother who ran a lodging house for policemen, and those lodgers made a big impression on him.

On leaving school he became an apprentice electrical engineer, before joining the Royal Air Force at the age of 18. He trained as a navigator and was posted to 31 Squadron, seeing wartime service mostly in the Far East with Transport Command.

Returning to Edinburgh on demob, he joined the city police in 1947, the same year that he met Janet Allison, always known as Jan. They married in the Highland Tolbooth church in October 1952, and enjoyed more than 61 years of happy marriage, living mostly in Corstorphine.

He steadily rose through the ranks from constable on the beat to chief inspector in charge of licensing in Edinburgh.

At one stage, in the days of strict censorship, his jobs included visiting Fringe shows in plainclothes to ensure that references to sex were tasteful, which gave him a fund of stories.

After Lothian and Borders Police was formed in 1975, he was promoted to superintendent and then chief superintendent at Torphichen Place, which made him responsible for policing the crowds at Murrayfield and Tynecastle.

It was at the latter stadium that he insisted on the introduction of closed circuit television, the first time it had been used in Scottish football.

He was also in charge of policing the visit to Edinburgh of Pope John Paul II in 1982, for which he received a Papal Medal. It tickled him that the medal is preserved alongside his Masonic regalia.

He suffered a heart attack in 1982 and retired in 1984, which gave him more time to indulge his love of travelling.

A keen sportsman, Ridgway was a noted sprinter in his youth, and also played rugby and boxed. He remained a very fit man almost to the end of his life. He and Jan attended a local gym three times a week until a few months before his death.

His hobbies included calligraphy, photography and art. He enjoyed good food and became a superb cook. He also bred dogs, with a particular love for red setters.

A talented jazz trumpeter, he was also a dedicated Burnsian, able to recite Tam O’Shanter from memory, which made him a welcome speaker at many a Burns Supper.

Ridgway faced his final illnesses with courage, beating cancer of the parotid gland at the age of 88 before succumbing to post-operative infections, a stroke and pneumonia.

He is survived by Jan, his daughter Deborah Kim, and grandson Lewis.