Godstone Traffic Department
1962: Godstone Traffic Department: Tony Forward: In 1962 I was a PC on Godstone Section which was part of Oxted Division. I lived on the main A22 road at No 1 Police House, Tylers Green.
Godstone Traffic Centre was in Ivy Mill Close, Godstone, where I called occasionally while on the beat and got to know the officers there. They would often stop and chat to me while I was on duty with my bicycle. PCs Pat Buss and Jock Amos were crewed together and Jock had applied to go on a CID learner. He had been told that he had to find a replacement for the six months he would be away from Traffic.
He asked me if I was interested and I jumped at the chance. I was already an authorised driver but went on an advanced driving course with PC Ernie Oliver before being crewed up with Pat Buss.
The Inspector was Ginger Thatcher, whose office was at Dorking Traffic Centre. The sergeant was Ken Girling. The officer in charge Traffic Department at HQ was Superintendent 'Tiger' Lake. PCs there to my memory were PC 1 Bristow, Pat Buss, Jock Potter, Wybrow, Artie Watkin, Bob Dann, Eddie Davies, Mick O'Sullivan, Don Vivers and a few others that I cannot put a name to.
There were three cars and two motorcycles based at Godstone. A white Ford Zephyr Six with a column gear change (only three forward gears) and two black Austin A99s. These had leather seats, a walnut dashboard, an Austin-Healey gearbox and a silver bell and black loud speaker on the front bumper. Two tone horns and blue lights had not yet been invented!
The Zephyr was replaced by a Sunbeam Rapier that was used primarily on night duty.
The A99s had a rack of acid accumulators in the boot to run the radio equipment and a large fan was fitted in the floor of the boot to extract the acid fumes. In a town centre at a fast speed in second gear, the sound was similar to a jet taking off! They were capable of speeds in excess of 100 mph and this was not unusual. The 70 mph national speed limit had not been created.
Within days of the arrival of the Rapier (described by the motoring press as an ideal ladies' golfing car), a message was received asking us to check the wheel nuts on the front offside wheel as one had been found to be missing on the Rapiers issued to two other traffic centres. Sure enough, ours had one missing.
It turned out that in the Sunbeam factory, an elderly worker on the assembly line had the job of putting the nuts on the front offside wheel as the car moved past on an elevator. The poor old boy was only able to get four of the five nuts on before the vehicle moved off! Every one off the assembly line was one nut short. (RB: As he would have been if the Traffic officers found him).
Jock Amos's CID learner course came to an end after six months and I returned to beat duties.
In 1976, I was promoted to Superintendent following the retirement of Superintendent Vic Drummond as deputy to Chief Superintendent Gerry Atfield who was in charge Traffic. I was only there for a few months before moving on but in September 2004 I found myself as the Chief Superintendent in charge Operations Department that, from that date, included Traffic among the many departments, squads and teams it took over. Superintendent Danny McNulty was the head of Traffic from that date.
Generally it was the driving instructors (presumably when they were quiet on that side) who were in charge with two or three traffic motor cyclists in support. Selected would be a road which had been subject to speed complaints or was deemed suitable (30mph straight, schools etc).
This huge unit was set up on the pavement at right angles to the road and the beam projected at an angle up the road. The Police car first performed a test run through the beam and then we were ready for business.
We would then "estimate" the speed of a suitable transgressor coming towards us, confirm it on the radar meter and "stop" the offender. The motor cycles were, of course in place should a vehicle fail to stop.
We once stopped a well known magistrate at Beacon Hill, Hindhead, who went apoplectic with rage.