John William Stephens (1861-1908)
Leicester's own 'Laughing Policeman'
A well-known Leicester character who was often to be seen on duty at the Clock Tower, P.C. ‘Tubby’ Stephens weighed 24 stone 3lbs and held the record for being the heaviest policeman in England. Always good humoured and jovial he was popular with Leicester people and apparently he would say to loiterers,” Do you play chess? Well it’s your move!” Then he would bump them along with his stomach. Visitors were always keen to be photographed with him and his fame eventually spread farther afield than Leicester when he became the subject of picture postcards and cartoons. It is also suggested that he provided the inspiration for the song “The Laughing Policeman”.
P.C. Stephens died at the age of forty eight and an estimated crowd of 10,000 people lined the streets for the whole of the funeral route. He is buried in Welford Road Cemetery although sadly no monument marks the grave.