1951-60

Frederick Gosling's shop at Clay Corner.

Frederick Gosling's shop at
Clay Corner.

1951: Murder: Frederick Gosling at Clay Corner, Chertsey: Frederick Gosling was a shopkeeper, at Clay Corner in Chertsey where in 1951 he was murdered. He had worked and run the same shop for forty four years and was now seventy nine. ... more

1951: Denis Turner: By the end of 1951 the Constabulary Police Dog Training School was training handlers from all over the UK and giving guidance to forces on setting up their dog sections.

1951, 6 October: The Times: A squad of Surrey Police are digging the grounds of Windlesham Court yesterday in search for the Duke of Windsor's jewels which were stolen five years ago at Sunningdale. They were acting on information received that the jewels were buried in the grounds and the search continues. On the 8 October it was reported that the police gave up their search.

1951: Cliff Blackford: The first time I met Cyril Dumbleton: was in 1951 after being posted to Warlingham following Training School. I had applied to become an authorised driver.

I was 9 am to 5 pm on this particular day and standing near the old police box fourteen as it was known, when an Austin A70 drew up being driven by Cyril. He told me that he had come to give me a driving test. I was in normal uniform and helmet.

After driving the A70 for over half an hour we arrived at his favourite hill start at the top of Caterham Hill. He said, "I understand you have also applied for motor cycle duty" I agreed with this and he said, "We might as well do it now".

He took me to the home of a local motor cyclist, (he was a Scot but I cannot remember his name) and a Triumph 500 cc machine was wheeled out. Remember, I was wearing a helmet with chin strap down. It was quite some time since I had ridden a motor cycle but climbed on with great gusto, put it in gear and let the clutch out.

The machine shot forward, my helmet shot to the back of my head with the chin strap around my throat but I was determined to master the thing. Cyril followed behind. I remember the A70 had a large speaker on the front of the radiator. Cyril gave his instructions over the loud hailer as to the route to be taken and everything seemed to be going well.

We entered a road, forget the name, and started to pass a number of workmen who were digging a trench at the side of the road with picks and shovels. At this point Cyril decided to make a turn so out through the speaker a stern: "Turn left".

The workmen stopped, some with their picks up in the air and with strange looks on their faces seeing a police officer in uniform, with his helmet at the back of his head, riding a motor cycle and being followed by a police car driven by another policeman. I often wonder what went through their minds. (Cyril was to die in 2008 just a few days short of his 101 birthday. The previous year he had driven from his home in Devon to Old Comrades at HQ where a presentation was made to him.)

1951: Tony May: In 1951 after being posted to Guildford from the Training School at Sandgate I discovered that Guildford was divided into eight beats with One Beat being the High Street which was sacrosanct. The only time a probationer was allowed there ... more

1952, 22 August: Ash Vale Booking Office Murder: Geoffrey Charles Dean a twenty eight year old booking clerk was murdered and the accused was James John Alcott born Lewisham 13 October 1929, a man with previous criminal convictions ... more

1952: Cliff Blackford's Shiny New Handcuffs: I will always remember my very first arrest. I had been posted from Chelsham to Walton-on-Thames in September 1952, and as my then wife was in hospital for the birth of my younger daughter I took extra leave on top of the usual three days moving allowance to settle into my first police house. I was still within a couple of months of completing my probation period.

My first day on duty was a Friday 9-1, 2-6; the 9-1 was spent at Walton Police Station studying paper work. At 2.15 that afternoon I made my first 'point' at the Hersham Road Post Office and at 2.17 the telephone rang and I was instructed to contact Sergeant Cyril Lowe at a housebreaking in Ashley Road nearby. When I arrived Sergeant Lowe said: "You are no good here, go to the police station and collect the unoccupied house list for the area and check the property.".

On leaving the police station with the necessary information I boastfully said, "I'll be back with him in an hour". I went straight to Burwood Park, an area containing some very expensive property, and there at the entrance I met uniform PC Ken Thane coming from the Park. I told him about the "break" and what I had to do and he said "I'll come with you".

Our first check was at a house called 'Dinham'. Ken went to the right and around the back and I checked the front door and porch and was just about to go round the left of the house and I heard Ken shout, "Catch him". I then saw a man running hard through a cabbage patch, followed by Ken Thane.

Between the roadway and the house garden was a low hedge of about eighteen inches high and the running man was heading for this hedge with me by now also chasing him. Neither of us noticed that about one foot above the hedge was a thin strand of wire. The man's foot got caught in this and he fell flat on his face on a grass verge just over the fence. Me being close behind also got caught in the strand of wire and landed on top of the man who was obviously then my prisoner.

I handcuffed him and asked a neighbour who was in his garden, to telephone the police station for transport and shortly after Sergeant Lowe arrived in his car. Feeling very proud of myself I said the Sergeant Lowe "I've got him, Serge". He looked me up and down and then said "It's about time you got those handcuffs burnished, boy". My balloon was popped.

1952: Ted Wild: I joined the Surrey Constabulary in 1952 and started off in Caterham on the beat cycling around the periphery. I had one button-up-to-the-neck tunic ... more

1952, 29 December: Peter McRae 40 year old salesman of Gable Court, Coldharbour Lane, Lingfield was charged at Oxted by Chief Inspector Farndale and Superintendent Steeds with the murder of his wife Mary at Lingfield on or about 29 December. The charge followed a small outbreak of fire which when put out revealed the body of Mrs McRae.

1953, 3 January: The Times: Peter McRae of Lingfield was charged with murdering his son aged four having already been charged with the murder of his wife Helga (reported as Mary above) aged forty five. Police Sergeant G. W. Keeping went to Gable Cottage on the 29 December after a fire and noticed a strong smell of petrol. He found the body of Mrs McRae in the main bedroom and a body of the child in another.

Detective Superintendent Tom Roberts

1953, February: Detective Superintendent Tom Roberts aged 47 retires. He was the first Surrey Constabulary Detective Superintendent. Tom Roberts was head hunted by MI5 to where he moved, two years short of his thirty, continuing an extraordinary life.4 Whilst with the Security Service he was close to much of the operational activity, working closely with senior people.

Roberts had joined the constabulary when the detective did not exist with crime being dealt with by local officers, the more serious the more senior and experienced the officer. He had been instrumental in developing a more scientific response to serious crime and been at the forefront of the improvement of detection and the foundation of a specialist criminal investigation department.

Roberts had the foresight and drive to be a leading figure in the development, training and deployment of police dogs in the United Kingdom. He was lucky with his chief constables, Nicholson and Simpson who were willing to make changes but, you make your luck. Chief Inspector Eric W Boshier stationed at Godalming is appointed acting superintendent and will for the time being take charge of Crime Bureau.5

1953, 2 June: Tony May: On Tuesday 2nd June 1953 I was at the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth 2nd in London. I was fortunate enough to be one of the eighty three officers from Surrey attending. Our job was to line the processional route in The Mall. ... more

1953-1954: Ted Wild: I was stationed at Reigate and was in the same section with Reg (Nellie) Alway, (who gave him that nickname?). I remember the ... more

1953: police cadets came to Surrey: Before the Second World War in 1939 Reg Callingham became an un-established Clerk, the pre-cursor to boy clerks, along with John Maskell and George Cork. They were stationed in the county police station Woodbridge Road in Guildford. In 1953 the Police Cadet was instituted before which young men ... more

1953: Harold May: At Caterham in 1953 we had a small black Ford van no side windows with three forward gears and a reverse gear which the Sergeants used (I remember this because the only way to get up Succombs Hill to Warlingham in the snow was to reverse all the way up!). Later that was changed to a Hillman Husky.

There was no vehicle for PCs - it was cycle or walk. Inspector Bowles used his own car mainly. When I went to Haslemere in 1967 the divisional car was still a Husky with step up type roof. It did however have windows all the way round; the Sergeant's car was a Morris Minor, this was a very reliable vehicle.

1953, 5 October: The Times: Surrey Police are investigating the theft of a number of articles from Clandon Park belonging to Lord Onslow, including the coronets he and Lady Onslow wore at the Coronation.

1954, 27 February: The Times: Surrey Police are investigating three rick fires at Tilford, Waverley and Frensham.

movement of an abnormal load by Surrey Traffic.

1954: Movement of an abnormal load by Surrey Traffic; PC Brown, PC Hitt, and PC Mathews in attendance.

1954, July 14: Police Royal Revue in Hyde Park. Ten thousand police officers were reviewed by HM The Queen. For a few days before the parade officers from all over the country gathered at Mount Browne to practice their marching skills. The event was part of the Queen's wedding celebrations. Large numbers of Officers, from most police forces, attended, which of course included handlers and their dogs from forces that had them. This was a new 'Tool' in crime detection, so not every force had dog sections.

dog handlers rehearsing for the Police Review
dog handlers rehearsing for the Police Review

The gathering in Surrey was a two day event during which time there was a great deal of marching with the dogs; there were between twenty and thirty with their handlers. There was little time for these officers who attended, to socialise being transported from Mount Browne and after the parade dispersed and made their way back to their respective Forces.

Obviously it was quite a gathering and an impressive sight attracting large numbers of spectators. The inspection was carried out by the Queen in a Landrover followed by a march past.

police review in Hyde Park

Gerry Middleton-Stewart from HQ Museum: I have the programme for the Review on display in the museum at Mount Browne. Surrey's contingent was in block eleven however, the Chief (Joseph Simpson) was in block twenty and I am not sure why they did that. I have not got any photos of our contingent.

1954: Tony Kirton: As a new recruit in January 1954 I was first posted to Leatherhead and then to the Fetcham Section – a sergeant and seven PCs. We all used our cycles (we received a bicycle allowance) to travel between points (pre-determined GPO telephone boxes) so that we could be contacted. We normally 'made a point' every hour and stood there for fifteen minutes. It was the only means of contact.

A sergeant would sometimes use a 'catch point' – that is one PC would be at the end of his fifteen minutes when another PC would arrive. In those circumstances you had to 'book' each other by noting the fact in your pocket book. If one left early or the other arrived late there would be no booking and when the sergeant carried out his weekly pocket book check there would be some explaining to do.

There are some valuable properties in that area and there were then quite a number of burglaries. As there were no nearby telephone boxes a number of residents volunteered for their houses to be 'points' – and the PC manning the switchboard at Leatherhead would know this so he would only ring for a contact if it was really important.

Our duties varied considerably and it was rare to get a straight 'eight'. It was usually 6 am-10 am and 6 pm-10 pm or 9 am-1 pm and 9 pm-1 am or 10 am-2 pm and 10 pm-2 am (these three favoured by the gardeners) and then either 8 am-4 pm or 10 am- 6 pm (favoured by me as the only single PC and courting).

The Chief Constable Joseph Simpson wanted to know what was happening throughout the county and it was decided to issue all PCs and sergeants with postcards (I think they were SC51). One side was addressed to him and the other was for the officer to record an incident which had occurred during his tour of duty. We were then required to stick a stamp on it (the cost to be claimed later) and post it. (No first and second class in those days and all post arrived the next day).

These cards went straight to the Chief Constable. The sergeant knew who was sending cards in by the claims submitted. I had a week of duties and practically nothing of particular interest happened. I was criticised for not sending in a card so the following day, when a hayrick caught fire (natural combustion) I posted a card. Apparently he was not amused!

We were not allowed to take up any other employment – a sacking offence – but our very understanding sergeant turned a blind eye in respect of one PC with a large number of children who had been a motor mechanic in the army in the war and who helped out in the local garage.

Part of our duty would be to visit all the unoccupied houses in the register (usually people on holiday who informed us) and one PC would also cut the lawn of one of these properties – the owner being a titled company chairman of a very large Surrey business. I think he also cut it when the owner was in residence but nothing was ever said.

When an officer married he could expect to wait for two years before being allocated a police house. We found a plot of land at Fetcham and a builder to build a house for us. The land was £200 and the building £1,800 – we could just about afford the mortgage.

However, I was seen by the inspector and strongly advised not to go ahead with the idea for all sorts of reasons: one being that once allocated a police house I wouldn't be allowed to live in my own house, 'millstone round your neck', and 'unknown tenants who may wreck the place' were phrases used. As, obviously, an inspector knows everything we followed his advice, went into a rented flat for almost two years and then moved into a police house. Someone else had the house built and whenever we go through the area we always make a detour and look at 'our' house.

A PC at Leatherhead did, however, buy a house, moved out of the police house into it and then reported the fact. He was given a choice – move back into the police house or go. He went!

1955: The Federation collects subscriptions:6 The Federation was first allowed to collect subscriptions of three pence a week. 99% of eligible members contributed. The standard working week was reduced from 48 hours to 40 hours. The first hearing before the new Police Arbitration Tribunal resulted in a major pay increase. The Tribunal recommended that the award be backdated, but the Government argued that there was no legal power to do so. Callaghan and the Federation organised a Parliamentary campaign, and the Government gave way, passing legislation enabling the back pay to be granted.

1955, 5 September: Bob Watford: I served in Surrey, starting as a cadet at HQ from Sept 5th 1955, (I was originally appointed by Sgt. 'Jock' Ball the recruiting sergeant and was on the first and only cadet course with ... more

1955: The railway strike: The Surrey Constabulary sent aid to the Metropolitan Police to counter potential trouble. Possibly this was the only time formal aid was sent in the history of the force although in the late 1980s and early 1990s, joint training and exercising was undertaken with all forces surrounding London to assist in urban rioting.

Tony Forward: About twelve PCs led by Sergeant Bill Leahy went to Croydon where they assisted the Metropolitan Police.

 


4 Photo from Chris Roberts collection.

5 The Surrey Advertiser and County Times (1953). (February 21).

6 http://www.polfed.org/aboutus/69DD9AB47F534348AD5D1415843163AA.asp [19 January 2010].

 

Surrey Constabulary badge