Rutherford and DI Winwood – background to the series

A Guide to Rutherford
A Guide to Rutherford

Rutherford is an English market town established sometime in the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries. It was originally on a main road but as the twice weekly market became more popular the centre of town became the market square. Now there is only one market each week and there are plans to move it away completely to make way for a larger car park.

All the main buildings border Market Square although many are not what they were originally intended to be. On one side White Plains District Council is housed next door to Rutherford Town Council which used to be a Bank. Opposite is the old Corn Exchange which is home to small and large private office suites, the most important of which is the Rutherford Echo Group of Newspapers.

On the third side the most important building is the Fleetwood Arms Hotel thought to be Rutherford’s oldest inn. It was first a coach house for travellers to rest overnight and each generation has seen small changes in the style of architecture and fittings and an increase in the number of rooms. The old stabling yard is now an open courtyard which is the smoking area and houses the most accurate clock in town being controlled by a radio link from the Mungo Jerry University Faculty of Science and Technology.

On the opposite side is The Green Man, almost as old as the Fleetwood.

Like so many other towns Rutherford has not escaped the impact of the internet. However many of the old retail units that closed did not remain empty for long and are now occupied by hairdressers and wine bars; the Olde Englishe Coffee Shoppe was once an antique shop. In such a way Rutherford is not quite a thriving town but it is a busy one.

The coming of the bypass was not the death knell that many feared. It kept heavy traffic from out of the town centre, protecting the fabric of the historic buildings from vibrations and allowing the town to breathe. It also created a space between it and the town itself and here developers and house builders moved in to establish the Crickle Wood Housing Estate.

There were four and five bedroom houses for the wealthy and standard two and half bedroom semis for the not so wealthy. The electrified fast rail link helped to make the town even more attractive. The population increased and provided custom for all the new traders. New offices and start up businesses jostled for space in the narrow streets that lead off Market Square.

Rutherford is still run by the ‘old families’ despite the incomers. The massive increase in new building has meant that the population is now more varied. As residents across the whole social classes have moved in from other towns Rutherford is now considered to be a bellwether when General Elections come around. The District and Town Councils have remained firmly Conservative since the dawn of time because no one hardly ever votes at local elections as there are few if any controversial plans.

The only problem was that the main supermarket was not large enough or convenient enough for the growing population being on the wrong side of town and at the wrong end of the bypass. A rival is about to submit a planning application in which they are offering more housing for the wealthy and affordable flats for the not so wealthy.

The increase in mortal souls did not help to swell the numbers who attended St Josephs Church. On the other hand the traditional clubs and societies continued to jog along such as the Rutherford Operatic And Dramatic Society (ROADS) collecting new members here and there.

Rutherford Football Club survives owing to local benefactors but it is run along pure Corinthian lines and promotion or relegation on the field is not how it measures success or failure. Few outsiders understand the rules but it has a well supported club house.

The Cricket Club recruits almost exclusively from Rutherford High School as does the Rugby Club; and both run youth teams up to a veterans side which is no more than a drinking club.

The Museum is not quite open yet after a disastrous flood. It has no exhibits for display either as it is intended to be completely digital and reliant on holograms, video streaming and high speed internet links to all other places of learning. On the other hand it is well funded.

Rutherford has its own fully manned police station with uniform officers, CID unit and a Chief Superintendent. The crime rate is low which adds to the attractiveness of the town. However there is always something to keep Detective Inspector Steve Winwood busy.

Detective Inspector Steve Winwood

DI Steve Winwood is approaching late middle age and not yet thinking seriously about retirement. He was born in London and moved up to Rutherford as part of an external investigation. He met his wife here who was also in the force and just stayed on, moving up the ranks from an ordinary Detective Constable. He likes the town and the surrounding countryside and they both considered it the right sort of environment in which to settle down and raise a family, which they did

He is not well dressed or in the best physical shape. He likes it that way. He is an old fashioned copper who believes that a metaphorical clip around the ear for many of the local villains would solve all crime. He does not get on well with psychoanalysts or probation officers.

He had assimilated well into the town community despite his language often descending into broad cockney or a mish-mash of working class slang. He is often not thought of as being too educated because of this but he is; and is fond of quoting from a wide range of literary works.

His favourite haunts are the Long Bar of the Fleetwood Arms Hotel where he will share a pint of best bitter with Brian Bennett Editor of the Rutherford Echo, and the Olde Englishe Coffee Shoppe where they are happy to serve him strong coffee and generous portions of bread pudding.

He looks after his Sergeants who respect him back. They often find his ways a bit odd but realise that in the process of an investigation they actually learn a lot about how to approach being a detective. He has a sort of father-son or father-daughter relationship and is sad to lose them but pleased for their progress when ambition and promotion calls.

Despite his eccentric ways of conducting his job he has the trust of his superiors who overlook the drinking, the unhealthy diet and the strange company he keeps as he actually gets results.

Winwood is the first to tell colleagues that he doesn’t like mysteries which is a strange thing to say for a detective. He really aches for a quiet life. However situations arise that require someone with a deep knowledge of the town’s social, political and financial connections and he is the ‘go to’ man when murder occurs. He has a knack of ensuring that any scandal does not leak into the public domain and as such his dreams of a quiet life are never going to be realised.