Bramshill Cavalcade 1972

1972, June: Bob Bartlett: The mists of time have dimmed the reason why, but someone decided that there would be a major policing event at the Bramshill Police College to be held in June 1972, and to be called the "Bramshill Cavalcade".

It was to be a type of Royal Tournament for the police. There were planned numerous displays of the latest in police technology and detection, all the different types of police vehicles, dogs, horses, police bands and contingents of marching police from a number of forces.

The Police College or as it became the Police Staff College is close to the village of Hartley Witney on the A30 in north east Hampshire. The College is centred on a large Jacobean mansion set in a prominent position on the top of a hill thereby commanding extensive views. The College is approached by a long straight drive through a deer park and woodland.

Away from the mansion and its gardens were a very large dining hall with a lecture hall and classrooms close by. There was also a large gymnasium, numerous tennis courts, volleyball, football and cricket pitches. Within the grounds there were numerous accommodation blocks, houses for the staff and visitors accommodation besides a large lake. On the lake were the infamously noisy geese and other wild fowl that were there to deny visitors and students a decent nights sleep.

Volunteers with an ability to march were called for and I volunteered. I was one of the three sergeants making up the Surrey contingent. There was Superintendent Gosling, three inspectors, three sergeants and quite a few PCs making a squad of thirty one. All had to be ex-armed forces, and I just about qualified for that, with the bonus that I could still do the foot drill in my sleep. (I probably could now.)

Training for BramshillCavalcade 1972

We trained at the Guards Depot under the Regimental Sergeant Major from the Coldstream Guards. You cannot imagine today this being allowed. A whole shift of police officers were to be found marching up and down having an enjoyable time, being shouted at and abused about our lack of swank and co-ordination by a senior NCO. It was great fun on the square at Pirbright as was the important day when we were on parade at Bramshill.

The sun shone, or at least it did not rain and there were representatives there from every police force in the land with the greatest diversity of liveried police vehicles ever gathered in one place before or since. The large arena was roped off and surrounded by the public who included a significant number of families of those taking part.

The pageant began with a PC leading at the front with his bike, and behind him were all the resources of the Force, foot patrols, traffic even I believe a helicopter, which of course was stretching the point a bit at that time. There was an arena show featuring all the display teams that the police then had; motorcycles, horses, police dogs, and massed bands including pipes from Strathclyde and Birmingham.

In the College buildings and in tents and marquees were exhibitions and static displays with police officers all over the place dressed in period police uniforms like some Madam Tussauds visitor attraction. One of the operational displays covered the Moors Murders in Yorkshire involving the murderers Brady and Hindley.

Imagine doing this today. Think of the outcry about the use of police resources and the significant costs that were involved. The Cavalcade stands as a monument to the simpler times of policing, which were fast changing.

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