Traffic Department

1949: Traffic History: PC 51 Alfred Hay: I moved to Dorking in early 1949 and was the divisional driver until Traffic Department was first formed that year. I was crewed with Arthur Apps as J110 (Humber Snipe) on E4 Area, the other crews in the Area being Bert Bradley and Peter Bailey (Sunbeam Talbot) as J109, both these cars were based at Dorking police station, and Norman Jesty and Bert Knaggs (Sunbeam Talbot) as J111 based at Leatherhead police station and two motor cycles with "Jock" Hoskins and Ernie Garner as riders; sad to relate I think that I am now the only survivor of that team. The other county areas were W1 (Weybridge), W2 (Guildford), W3 (Farnham) and E5 (Oxted).

Initially, having no radio, we made "points" (same as beat officers) at telephone kiosks and RAC and AA telephone boxes. Came the day when we were equipped with early radio and, as county call sign M2HJ, shared the same wavelength as Surrey Fire Brigade, M2HF. The scheme had a number of failings, mainly black spots, and was tested on one night patrol around 2am when driving through Dorking High Street we saw that the large two storey grocery store Kinghams was well alight.

Having tried a quick radio call with no success we drove swiftly to the local Fire Station which was in West Street only some three hundred yards away. On arrival I achieved a lifetime's ambition, i.e. to press the alarm bell at the Fire Station, and was astonished at the speed of the response as it seemed to be seconds only until the doors crashed open and firemen were sliding down the poles to enquire "Where's the fire?".

I learned another lesson that night when trying to awaken the occupants of a flat next to Kinghams without immediate success when my accompanying fireman put his fist straight through the door glass panel and we were in, much to the surprise of a couple fast asleep in bed although the wall by their heads was too hot to touch.

Superintendent R. A. (Taffy) Davies was in charge with his deputy, Eric Hooke, with two sergeants, "Tiger" Lake and Cyril Dumbleton, working from an office at the top of the iron staircase at the rear of the old H.Q. in Woodbridge Road, Guildford, which, of course, was pre-Mount Browne. One abiding memory of Cyril Dumbleton at that time was when he told me that the best way to ensure that a constable would be fully informed of all he should know was to put that information in the office Confidential File!

Car training; very little other than the odd bit of instruction from someone like PC Ernie Oliver and from a personal point of view I never had the opportunity to attend one of the national driving schools - that must say something!

I do recall one night in the "wee small hours" driving the Humber from a standing start at Beare Green to a mansion at the top of Pebblecombe Hill, Headley, and was quite pleased to have travelled the nineteen miles in twenty minutes. The need for the trip was that a burglar had been disturbed in the mansion, had been clobbered by the male householder, there was blood everywhere including the lady's nightdress, so we were pleased to arrest the breaker who, incidentally, was lying on the floor with the butler sitting on his chest and was carried into Epsom Court the next day on a stretcher. What price his Human Rights and the duty of care which he would expect nowadays?

The other memory is about the Humber Snipe which, of course, had no form of heating other than a so-called windscreen heater which was a bar about twelve inches long set in front of the driver and which, on a cold frosty night, produced a clear half moon view of roughly twelve inches wide with a radius of about six inches; what price road safety?

On the question of car heating the prime story at that time was that Jock Mason, a bit of an engineer and crewing a Sunbeam Talbot at Reigate with Don Scott, had fitted a pipe on to the engine, the pipe fed hot engine water through to the driving area and then back to the engine. Apparently, the system worked but the problem was that each time the car had to go to HQ garage at Ladymead the pipe had to be taken out beforehand and reinstalled later.

The early Dorking Traffic car was a Humber Snipe; the only Humber Super Snipe was at Guildford crewed by PCs Sivill and Kendall. Happy days!

Geoff Bloomfield: Vehicles: In 1949, traffic cars were Humber and Sunbeam Talbots; divisional vehicles a brown Commer van, Hillman Minx saloons and Hillman Utility vans. During the 1950's, Austin and Fords were used as Traffic cars, and Hillmans were used as CID cars and for supervision. Ford 8 cars and vans were used by Sergeants in rural sections. As a DC at Woking in the late 1950s, I rode a Vespa Scooter. I do not know if this was a one off, or if there were others.

Return to main text.

 

Surrey Constabulary badge