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Permanent memorial unveiled in Leicester to honour England's 'heaviest policeman' John 'Tubby' Stephens

A larger than life figure from Leicestershire Police has had a memorial unveiled in his honour. PC John 'Tubby' Stephens weighed in at 24 stone 3lbs (154kgs) when serving as a member of the Force during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Thought to be England's heaviest police officer, with an effervescent personality to match, Stephens is thought to be the inspiration behind the Laughing Policeman song which was first recorded in 1922 and has sold over a million copies.

Leicestershire Police Federation has funded the memorial with LPF Trusts and the Federation's chairman, Tiff Lynch, attended the unveiling.

"It is clear from all the evidence that has been found on him that PC Stephens was an incredibly popular figure within the community," says Tiff.

"The numbers of people who attended the funeral tell a story of a man who was not only recognisable to those he protected but a much-loved figure within Leicester.

"Even those from outside the city would know his name and so it will be fitting to give PC Stephens a memorial so that the Leicestershire public and visitors from far and wide can learn about his story."

Incredibly popular in his home town, around 10,000 people lined the streets for the policeman's funeral when he died in 1908 at the age of 48.

PC Stephens was buried in an unmarked grave in Leicester and historians believe his grave was without a stone because his family did not own the plot.

A local beer has already been named to honour PC Stephens, who would regularly be asked to pose for pictures with members of the public because of his unmistakable frame and popularity.

Now a permanent memorial has been unveiled after 12 months of research by Leicestershire Police's archivist.

Speaking at the launch of the beer named after him, Simon Cole, Leicestershire's Chief Constable, said that PC Stephens was an iconic figure in the city.

"He patrolled the Clock Tower was sought out by visitors to the city," he said. "He was absolutely legendary and a really popular figure in the city of Leicester.

Steve Bruce, a tour guide in Leicester, said it felt right that the former officer was being honoured.