Guildford in the late 1950s

1950s, late: Guildford: Charlie Mitchell: Did you do your basic training at the old Guildford Police Station in Woodbridge Road? For those of us who did in the late fifties it must bring back many memories. Going on nights was an experience; there was a man in a black suit collarless shirt with pieces of paper over his face obviously a very bad shaver who would follow you around for a while muttering Gestapo and other things under his breath. He didn' t cause any problems but we were all aware of him.

Remember having a sly smoke in the graveyard behind the church at the top of the High Street? Who could forget "Shags", Sergeant Mick Feehan. I am 6ft 2inch but Shags looked like the missing link. He was a rough looking character tall, large chin, hair down his nose and a thick Irish brogue. Yes he was my sergeant and a better man it was hard to find.

One night I had a bit of bother with two sailors in uniform Shags came round the corner tried to shut them up but they persisted, so I arrested them; going up to the nick they were giving it all. Outside the nick Shags said "Now I will give you the choice lads you can come in and be charged or you can come up this alley with me and my colleague where I will take your windpipe out and strangle you with it. What is it to be?" With one accord they wanted to be charged. He kicked them both up the backside and told them to get back to there ship. This was the life then.

One early evening Shags and I were in the High St Guildford when a patrol car stopped a car near the bottom of the road; I believe Norman Lampard was part of the crew. The car stopped and the police car pulled in behind it. Shags said "You must never do that they could just drive away when you get out check them." Sure enough the officers went to the car and it took off. Shags said "Look, I told you but never mind I will stop them" and as quick as a flash he had his truncheon out and threw it at the car, missed it and clattered into Courts shop window opposite.

He told me once that he was in Guildford police station about three in the morning when there was a report of a motor bike being stolen from Bramley and it was heading for Guildford. Shags said he got on his bike and got to the Quarry Street junction with High Street when along came a motor bike. How was he going to stop it; our hero threw his bike at it knocking man and motor bike across the road. It was again unfortunate the rider was a man from the railway on his way to work. Shags said he was writing reports for months.

Jeff Bloomfield told me that when he joined times were hard and as a result he had put old cycle tyres on the soles of his night boots. One night he was out with Shags checking unoccupied houses. Shags got his torch out shone it on the ground followed Jeff round the outside of the house saying Wait a minute there has been someone round here on a bike There are many more but some you cannot tell. Remember him checking prisoner' s property and having to record it. There was a pair of scissors to be recorded. Shags wrote skis then siss then said "Oh bugger it a knife."

I remember making a point at the telephone box by Guildford Lido, no radio communication then. Inspector Lock met me and enquired if I had been in for my swim yet. He went on to tell me that was why we had a point there as you always had a swim.

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