Guildford 1965

1965: Guildford Police Station and Section House: Colin Campbell: I went to No 6 District Police Training Centre, Sandgate in December 1964 and after thirteen weeks of initial training was posted to Guildford police station which was in Woodbridge Road. Accommodation was provided in the Guildford section house which, although part of the police station building, had its entrance from the back yard of the police station off Leapale Road.

The section house was on three floors; the ground floor housed the kitchen and dining room, and also the police social club. On the first floor were individual bedrooms, bathroom and lounge, and on the second floor a large room divided by wooden panels to make a number of individual bed spaces. These were known as the 'horseboxes'. As a new recruit I was allocated one of the horseboxes and was there for a number of months until it was my turn to be allocated an individual room on the first floor.

The section house was quite noisy as it was adjacent to Leapale Road, which was a busy one way street. We were also above a pub called the Carpenters Arms so getting a good night of sleep on a Friday or Saturday before an early shift was not always easy. The section house cook was Mrs Hart, affectionately known as 'Auntie', and she cooked breakfasts and lunches from Monday to Friday, and then food was left in the fridge for residents to self cater at other times.

Having been in the section house for about a year, two properties on the opposite side of Leapale Road were purchased and were altered to separately house male and female officers. These were a great improvement and well liked. Eventually the female section house moved to Nightingale Road and therefore more accommodation became available for male officers.

Section house life was good, sociable and enjoyable. Sometimes after a late shift a number of us would go for a meal in the local Indian restaurant in North Street, or perhaps a trip to Brighton just for a change. However, these excursions would only happen near to pay day as money was tight. Other residents in the section house included Colin Benham, Brian Rogers, David Lines, Pete Older, Dave Bristow, Kevin Marwick, Pete Thompson, Roger Martin and Phil Morgan.

During probation there would be a training day at headquarters once a month, and usually the night before we would get our heads together in the section house to complete our DPAs (discussion on prepared agendas) ready for taking to training. The training sergeants were Jack Packham and Richard Smith.

Guildford was a busy town and a good place to start a career. The basic shifts were either nights (10 pm to 6 am), late (2 pm to 10 pm), or early (6 am to 2 pm) and we had to report for duty 15 minutes prior to the shift for the section briefing which was carried out in the parade room where the duty sergeant would stand behind a desk and the constables in front of it.

The sergeant gave out the instructions for the shift; the instructions would include names of currently 'wanted' locals, any specific areas needing attention, information of any incidents in the previous shift, summonses for serving, warrants for execution, and any other duties to be performed during the shift. Close attention had to be paid because there were occasions when the noise levels were high, usually caused by a drunk in the adjacent cell!

Meal breaks were for forty five minutes and the times were allocated by the sergeant. At the briefing parade 'appointments' had to be produced (handcuffs, truncheon) and pocket books were signed by the sergeant. There were ten beat areas and usually eight were covered by the town constables, the other two were in outlying areas (one of which was Wood Street) and had their own resident constables.

Number One beat was Guildford High Street and the only time a probationer constable had the privilege of patrolling that area was to cover the meal break of a senior and more experienced constable. The outlying beats such as Merrow and Burpham, Park Barn, Onslow village, were cycle beats and a small cycle allowance was paid for using your cycle.

The sergeants in my early days were Wilf Sivill, George Cooper or Eric Washington. They were always addressed as 'Sergeant'.

During my first two weeks as a probationer I was tutored by Jack Richards, an experienced PC and gentleman. The first week was nights and I recall checking the security of a pub off Quarry Street, then taking a moment to sit on a chair on their patio and promptly falling asleep. Jack told me having a nap was alright but I must know when to wake up – point taken! I don't think I did it again.

Sometimes on a Friday or Saturday we would work a shift from 6 pm to 2 am to cover the busy pub turn out times. There were two or three pubs in Guildford which regularly had fights on Friday and Saturday nights and often the cells became full on these occasions.

There were also the regular alcoholics/tramps/roadies in Guildford and in cold weather not unknown for one to break a shop window just in order to get arrested and a bed for the night. Guildford was also a town where soldiers from Aldershot would come to drink, but very often found themselves in the cells for assault or being drunk and disorderly. The MPs from Aldershot would collect them and no doubt they were charged back at camp.

In 1965 there were no personal radios and patrolling officers on foot or cycle had to make points at a different allocated telephone box. Once an hour and remain there for fifteen minutes to receive a telephone call to get instructions, or to be met by the duty sergeant or inspector. If you upset the sergeant at a briefing you could find your points being very far apart!

The station office was open to the public twenty four hours a day, and was manned on the three shift system by permanent station officers, two of which were ex-Guildford Borough men – 'Digger' Field and Ernie Kleisure. These people knew all there was to know about Guildford, its people and its surrounds and were very helpful on local knowledge. The superintendent was Sellwood, Chief Inspector Friedersdorf and Sergeant Bert Field in the divisional office. Bert Field could be seen every morning, as regular as clockwork, walking to work from his home in Merrow.

After a year of walking the beat I was crewed on the 'Tilly' vehicle (call sign J35) with John Coles, another experienced officer. I was fortunate to get this posting as I had received a five day driving course towards the end of service as a cadet so was already authorised to drive.

Working on the car was always busy and a good learning ground. I recall one morning soon after I had started on the car with John we saw a youth driving a Riley motor car along the A3 at Ladymead, towards London. He didn't look right so we decided to stop him.

The procedure was to pull alongside the vehicle then the observer would signal the driver to stop. We did this on London Road at Burpham, John signalled the driver to stop and as he slowed to a walking pace I pulled in front to complete the stop. When the Riley was almost stationary the driver leapt out of the vehicle leaving it in gear and it ran into the back of us. John got out of our car and chased the youth across the road whilst I ensured the Riley's engine had stalled.

I then turned our car round and stopped outside the Burpham filling station where I saw the youth. As John and I went towards him he picked up an iron bar from the garage forecourt and started wielding it at us. Fortunately, an off duty traffic warden walked out of the garage premises at that moment, and seeing what was happening he went up behind the youth and grabbed him; then between us we restrained, handcuffed, and took him to the police station.

It transpired that earlier that day he had been released from borstal in Hampshire and stole the Riley to get back to London. The following day, after the hearing at Guildford Magistrates court I was handcuffed to the youth taking him down the stairs to the cells when he tried to leap down the bottom four or five steps taking me with him. There were other officers in the vicinity so he was restrained. A few lessons learned on those two days.

After another few months I applied for a vacancy as reserve divisional motorcyclist; I did an authorisation test with Bomber Brown – this lasted about three quarters of an hour, riding a Triumph 500cc Speed Twin around the town area and out on the open road to Ripley and Send. I passed this and subsequently got the posting.

The full time motorcyclists were Fred Smith, Ken Tizzard and Robin Young and as the reserve I did the duties when one of them was not available, covering annual leave and other of their commitments.

Being a divisional motorcyclist was a big learning curve. Most of the sudden deaths, serving summonses, domestics, road traffic accidents, delivering death messages, enquiries on behalf of other forces and so on, fell to the motorcyclist. After almost two years of enjoyable service at Guildford I moved on to Farnham traffic centre.

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1965, Summer: Guildford Division: Bob Bartlett: I was very pleased to be back in Guildford as 938 after a brief dalliance with the Metropolitan Police, although my stay was not to be for long. Herman Rutherford saw me and the interview consisted of "I will take you on the condition that if I ever hear of you speaking about more pay in the Metropolitan Police I can turn you upside down and shake all the money from your pocket for the Widows and Orphans Fund". I came back with Roger 939 Church who had been in the section house with me in Putney.

I moved into the section house annexe in Leapale Lane, now pulled down and a multi-storey car park in its place. A trip to Jock "You'll grow laddy" Alexander in the Stores in what was the stables at HQ and I was raring to go.

Firstly I had to be sworn in as a Constable in Surrey. The ceremony was completed along with a number of recruits in number one court of the Guildhall in Guildford High Street before a bench of magistrates. This was and still is an imposing hall with a high ceiling, plenty of dark polished wood and oozing generations of civic pride and criminal justice.

The pay was different to London because we had our rest days off, and less was to be earned in overtime. The monthly pay for December 1965 was £57 17s 1d gross £46 0s 11d net. It seemed enough at the time for a single man.

Within an hour of coming on duty I had my first prisoner, a well-known drunken troublemaker. He was causing problems in North Street and was overdue for a date with the station sergeant. Within the next couple of weeks I arrested six people.

Two were for stealing from cars in a car park to the rear of the Upper High Street. I was outside the Angel Hotel in the High Street, when a motorist told me that there were two men acting suspiciously in the car park. I asked him to dial 999, and I stopped a passing motorist and we drove to the car park immediately seeing the suspects prowling around a car. I went over and spoke with them soon making up my mind that they were up to no good. Fortunately, assistance soon arrived and I was able to arrest the men who were later charged with breaking into cars.

One tragic event occurred when I was on night duty by the railway station. It was late into the night and very quiet, when I saw a woman running up the road. She was going to call an ambulance for her husband who had been taken very ill. In those days, few people had a phone at home. I told her to go on to make her call, and I went to the house and up to the bedroom.

As I walked into his room, the man died. I hope that it was not from the shock of seeing me walk into his room in the middle of the night! I had of course to try mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but unfortunately without success. The wife returned, followed not long after by the ambulance, but the man was dead. It was the practice then for the ambulance crews mostly to just "scoop and shoot". Scoop up the patient, and shoot of to the hospital.

After it was over I went to the police station to report the incident, and one of the old time sergeants who was normally a bit fierce, George Cooper, sat me down and made me some tea. It was not pleasant, I still recall the incident, but I soon got over it as we all did – it was the Job.

Crime and other incidents were not ever present and foot patrol could be slow, but it was an essential way of learning the trade. There was time to talk to people, to learn from colleagues the tricks of the trade. You were also seen as something of an attraction to the young ladies of the town, well at least to their mothers looking for husbands for their daughters!

The term a glamorous job is a little exaggerated, but the uniform, the steady pay and position the police held within society made the young policeman a good catch. A report published in the 1960s declared that for many the policeman was seen as the ideal man! Blimey; the authors of that report did not know some of the policemen I knew.

It was seen as a daily challenge by the officers to obtain tea and buns, etc from as many places as possible. When allowed into the High Street, the window dressers in the shops were always worth a little flirting. Senior officers frowned on an absence from visible patrolling by constables but this was more than a little cynical as they all had their own tea stops or more likely beer stops, in their day. Yet this was the way you came to know people and they you. It was through personal contact and trust that information was gathered that one day may be of use.

Guildford was still small enough for people to know those bent on a criminal or violent way of life and were particularly well known to the other young people who were often prepared to talk to their friendly tea drinking policeman. Yet the firm advice given me by Detective Sergeant Wright at Guildford police station following a forgotten incident was "Believe what they tell you is a lie. Let them prove what they say is the truth". So spoke many years experience as a detective.

It could be too quiet, and it is rumoured that PC Jim Wright fell asleep, falling off his cycle on the steep hill of Farnham Road, outside the hospital. It is a long steep hill and Jim had made his point at the telephone box by Onslow Village in the early hours of the morning, and then had the ride downhill to his meal break at the police station. Not much beyond his pride was hurt.

There were tea stops and places to go and visit people on nights. However, it was a hanging offence to miss a point at a telephone box made every hour, standing there for ten minutes. It was the only way the police station could make contact, ensure that you were safe, and give you a job or information, to be met by the sergeant and rarely the inspector.

When supervisors met you on the beat, they signed your pocket book, and then at the end of each week, each officer completed a time sheet that included supervisory visits. There was a great deal of importance placed on all this, and it is said that one of the sergeants would ring his cycle bell once to "book him five" and two rings "to book him ten minutes". You never knew when they would turn up or ring and so you made your points, or faced the consequences that could be discipline.

The sergeants were a race apart, and the inspectors from another planet. The people above and beyond that were rarely seen or spoken to except when you were in trouble.

When reporting for duty, fifteen minutes before the start time, officers paraded on the highly polished brown linoleum floor in the charge room before the sergeant who stood at a high wooden desk. There were no women as the WPCs had their own specialist functions mainly associated with women and children and did not work the twenty four hour shift rota. They also got paid less as their work was seen as less arduous. I believe their pay was pitched at 80-90% of their male colleagues.

The sergeant would allocate the beat, set the time for a meal break, and give any relevant information on stolen vehicles, suspects, missing people, etc. Before going to our beats we had to produce our appointments, i.e. the pocket book and pencil in its brown leather wallet, truncheon, whistle, and at night a torch. This is how they did it when the police force started. Little or nothing had changed beyond the fact that we were not marched out onto our beats replacing officers who then went off duty.

The only equipment was the wooden truncheon that had not changed in a hundred years; a pair of handcuffs of a Victorian design coated in a shiny metal; a whistle and a torch. The torch was probably the only concession to the 20th Century. The uniform was thick blue serge, a mackintosh and a greatcoat, with the option of a large and very heavy cape which many swore by. There were many tales about hiding things under the cape when surprised by the sergeant or inspector.

The whistle was fixed into the breast pocket in a particular way, each force having its own style. In Surrey the chain was wound around the top button of the tunic, with the hook set into the back of the second button. We carried a pocket book in the breast pocket. We had two helmets, one with a black helmet plate for night duty and a shiny one for the daytime. Our blue shirts had detachable collars, and therefore we used collar studs, which at 5.45 in the morning were always a challenge.

There was no such thing as shirtsleeve order that I recall. Therefore no matter how hot it was, the uniform was the same. The helmet was never taken off when on duty when the public were present, as it was this part of the uniform that supposedly gave the mystique; set the policeman apart by hiding his age and inexperience. Without the helmet we were very young!

There was however, little out of the ordinary to do beyond the routine of beat duty. Nights consisted of many hours of seeing very little, moving from one phone box "Point" to another, looking forward to meal break and the recording of all vehicles seen on the "Vehicles Seen at Night" form. These were handed in at the end of the night duty and consulted by the Criminal Investigation Department in the town and elsewhere should there have been a serious crime during the night.

During the day, endless unoccupied houses were visited. People going away contacted the police and an "Unoccupied House" form was completed. It was then the responsibility of the foot patrols to visit the houses to ensure they remained secure. If the time the people were to return drew close and the sergeant discovered not many visits had been made, they were given priority treatment.

During a night duty I was drinking a pint of milk in the dairy at the Morris Depot by the Wooden Bridge on the A3 in Guildford. A so called "tea stop". As I tipped the bottle I was certain that I saw a man on the railway line. He soon disappeared. I had the dairyman call 999, as I ran to the area where I had last seen the man. I was certain someone had been there and if they were they were up to no good and so the hunt was on.

As several units arrived to take part in the search I was initially concerned that I may have been mistaken, but eventually a police dog found a track and there were other sightings. Some hours later that morning when I was in bed, the man was arrested for a number of serious offences further south. He was making his escape by using the railway line.

We no longer seem to get the thick fog that we used to. I recall a very, very foggy evening in Guildford High Street where it was impossible for drivers to see where they were going, and police officers leading them up the hill. In a more light hearted moment whilst the Yvonne Arnaud theatre was under construction in Millbrook by the river, during the night three young members of the shift were to be found on the stage improvising speeches from Shakespeare. What the sergeant would have made of it heaven knows!

Also about this time whilst working the Tilly J35, two officers were drinking coffee from a machine at the rear of a garage on the A3 at Onslow Village. There was shock all round when a thief who had broken in came out via the roof and jumped off landing at their feet. You can imagine the reactions of the toe-rag. There was a great deal of fun to be had with much humour.

The work could be difficult but the young policemen worked well as a team and there was a continuing and for some, excessive, social life that bound us all together. All night card games in the section house were a fairly regular even for those with stamina.

The Women's Royal Army Corps, Queen Elizabeth Barracks at Stoughton was a constant cause of problems and for some reason of little attraction to the single policemen. One night, along with a number of officers I was sent there because of intruders. It turned out that a number of Guardsmen were in the camp and had refused to leave. We chased them around and eventually locked them up in the guardroom.

There was a young lady army officer who could not cope and asked us to remain and so we stayed until a company sergeant major arrived in a lorry from Pirbright, the Guards Depot a few miles away, with the Regimental Police.

Meanwhile the Guardsmen had been abusive to the officer, and had been boasting what they would do to the CSM when he arrived. When he did arrive and was told of what they had promised to do to him, he went into the cellblock from where he screamed and shouted in a most guardsman like manner at the prisoners. Within minutes they were ramrod at attention, and double quick marched to the lorry. I suspect that they may have seen the inside of the cells in the guardroom at Pirbright for some days and nights.

I moved across the road into what was called a horsebox, and not in the large room above the cells I had occupied as the cadet. The horsebox was in a large room on the top floor of the Section House, at the back of the police station in Leapale Lane. This large room was divided into about a dozen sections by partitions making a number of rooms. It gave privacy but not quiet, and was difficult with people coming and going, working and playing at different hours.

The cook was still Mrs Hart who mothered all the policemen, providing substantial meals. The weekends, when she was not at work, were always a hassle. She left food, and it was often all gone, eaten by the greedy, which was probably all of us.

Another timeless problem of communal living was the lack of washing up. Many just did not do it and the kitchen over a weekend became a mess, followed by routine tantrums on the Monday, which made no difference!

In August I was surprised to receive a posting to Dorking Division as a reserve motorcyclist, which for a young probationary constable was unusual. I had ridden motorcycles but it was something of a giant leap to become a police motorcyclist. No test or training that I recall but now a motorcyclist the work horses of the Force. Off to HQ to draw one of the huge, thick, long, very heavy and cumbersome motorcycle mackintoshes, jodhpurs, gauntlets, crash helmet and goggles and shiny gaiters.

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