Police Cadet Training 1963-4

1963: Police Cadet Bob Bartlett: I came to in Surrey in the very cold and snowy winter of February 1963. It had taken about six months from leaving the army where I had been a boy soldier to arriving in the Section House at the rear of the police station in Woodbridge Road, Guildford, having been recruited by an institution, Sergeant Jock Ball.

Jock was basically recruiting for the football team and so if an interest was expressed, not only were you in, but you were one of the chosen ones, a footballer. I had played a bit, was very fit and willing to be a part of his team; had my Army First Class in five subjects which counted against GCE; as far as I recall that was about all it took to join.

Woodbridge Road Police Station

The police station in Guildford was an ancient red brick building that was sadly demolished and turned into a car park during 2001. Once it had been the County HQ for the Surrey Constabulary.

The single men's quarters or section house was to the side with an access into Leapale Lane, a few seconds walk from North Street. This part of the building was "new" compared to the older Victorian bit.

There were some single rooms, and on the top floor there were cubicles, known as the horseboxes. The horseboxes were contained within a large room that was divided by partitions, giving some privacy but no peace and quiet for those on shifts.

I had a room of my own being "the boy", and comfortable it was except that it was above the cells. I should have known that there was a reason why I had the best room in the place. Noisy drunks were a particular pain, and many an hour's sleep was lost until tiredness or the drink, finally overtook the prisoner. There was one prisoner called Carmody who on more than one occasion spent a long night screaming and shouting and banging his cell door. He was to die a young man.

On the ground floor there was a kitchen, dining room, a bar and clubhouse with a snooker table. Mrs Hart the cook mothered the policemen during weekdays for breakfast and lunch, with self-catering at the weekend and in the evenings. When Mrs Hart was not there, the kitchen soon deteriorated into a real mess, as there appeared to be a total reluctance by the twenty or so residents to wash up.

The next two years was one big moan about the state of the kitchen. For all this luxury I was charged £4 from my £6 weekly pay to cover food, as the room came free. On the other side of Leapale Lane was a converted house, which became the single women's quarters. It was from here that several of the other young ladies broke many hearts.

My immediate task on becoming Cadet 14 was to open a bank account and to buy uniform boots and a few other items. The uniform was free and I was advanced some money to kit myself out with other things I needed. At this stage my worldly possessions were in one small tartan holdall, and all my money was in my pocket.

My boss was Sergeant Bert Field who was the clerk sergeant for the division, a bright and able man with a sense of fun. We got on well as I did with the other cadets, Des Flanders being one of them. Everyone was very kind and welcoming and I immediately took to the life. Having been in the army helped as I mixed well with the men and I was used to being away from home and looking after myself.

My duties consisted importantly of making the tea for all those on duty in the morning and afternoon. Tea and biscuits we carried around all the offices and the cadets took a great deal of time over what was never seen as too much of a chore. The biscuits were something of an institution, being chocolate McVities, individually wrapped and either milk or plain. They were not included in the tea fund and the biscuits had to be paid for as they were delivered with the tea. There were set times for tea with many a phone call if we were delayed. The worst office was where the policewomen were based, as it was always full of smoke from the cigarettes of Miss Mackenzie the Inspector.

Cadets registered aliens, which meant we met all the au-pair girls; lost property recording and reconciliation with the owners; recording all the road accidents; running the errands. Many duties were spent in the front office dealing with the public and operating the frightful switchboard.

Every call in and out went through the board and each line had a cable and plug. A flap would drop indicating someone had picked up a phone, a lever was pressed and hopefully you would talk to whoever was on the phone and then the difficult bit, the correct cable had to be put in the right hole and again another lever pulled to make the phone ring. It was a nightmare and I still recall the rollicking from Superintendent Sellwood for cutting him off mid call.

Another close call was when I threw back the sliding window that divided the office from the public and knocked for six a typewriter causing considerable damage. Charlie Barham the station officer had to submit a reporting which he put the damage down to "the enthusiasm of youth".

The weather remained very cold and with deep snow in one of the worst winters of a generation. It was so cold that patrolling officers were given double length meal breaks, and some were taken hot drinks on the beat by their sergeants. This was only on night duty. It would have been a poor policeman who could not live off the land during the day and find a place to warm his feet and hands.

It was not all office work. One or two days a week Cadets were on foot or mobile patrol. Being in the section house and living with many of the young officers, I developed a good relationship with them and they were not unhappy to have me in tow.

We worked day shifts and also 2-10 or even later, particularly on the "Tilly", or the utility vehicle, a Hillman Husky estate. This was J35, and what excitements, charging around the town and beyond with blue light flashing and bell ringing, responding to all the emergency calls. Burglaries, accidents, chases, fights, disturbances in pubs, sudden deaths we had the lot.

One night in what was to be my first excitement in the police we surrounded suspects in the Rodborough Buildings at the bottom of the town. This was an enormous red brick building that was once a factory and in the late 1990s was to become a fashionable pub and parade of shops. It was therefore a large area to search.

A burglar had been disturbed in the building and was believed to be still there. All escape routes were cut off and in went the dog to search the building. After a short time, loud barking could be heard and in we went and I had the good fortune to be the one to capture the burglar – with a little assistance from the dog handler! I had never seen a man so frightened, a man shaking so much.

The first road accident I attended was a bad one. It was in Stoughton and I arrived at the scene in the back of the J35 to find a small boy had been knocked off his bike and was trapped underneath a large tipper lorry. There was the usual knot of people standing around, concerned, wanting to do something or just the curious. Thankfully, as there always seemed to be, there was a small group helping to keep the poor lad alive. It took ages to get him out, something fortunately I was not involved in.

A wise soul sent me to direct the traffic. The arrival of the ambulance and fire brigade would have led to the lad's release but the skills of the ambulance staff were very limited. It was known as "scoop and shoot" . Scoop up the injured person and shoot of to the hospital.

Cadets were also given foot patrols with constables. We were dressed differently. A cap with a blue band, battledress style jackets with "Police Cadet" on the shoulders with what was still referred to as a "collar number". This term came from the unique number issued to every policeman and when they wore button up tunics without collars and ties, the number was worn on the collar. My number was 14.

Our shirts were blue with detachable collars needing collar studs to fit them; impossible to fix when in a hurry and new to the job. In fact on my first morning, Jim Wright helped fix my collar before my first day's duty. The skill was to secure the collar to the stud at the back of the neck, and at the same time have the tie inserted within the collar. The collar then had to be secured to another stud where the top button now is, and then the tie tied.

The uniform came from the stores in the stables at Mount Browne, where an old PC, a Scot called Alexander issued what he had with the cry of "you'll grow laddie" if it was found that nothing in stock fitted. I suppose he was right. A lot of the young men would grow and certainly expand with the PT and other activities we undertook.

Not everyone recognised the sartorial splendour of a cadet's uniform. On one occasion when at the railway station with PC Dennis Edwards someone asked me which platform the London train went from. Did I suffer after that! For many a day I was asked for a two-penny ticket to the terminus by so called friends in the section house!

In 1963 there were many of the old time sergeants and constables still serving, some from the days when Guildford was a Borough Force in its own right. The term character comes easily to mind. They were mostly very big men, who were brought up to resolve many of the problems they faced with their fists. Many had served in the war, some in Korea.

They knew what was right and wrong but probably many could not have been too certain of their powers. If you deserved it you would be arrested and the station sergeant or Inspector would sort out the niceties of the law. They were well known locally and mostly respected, even by the people they locked up.

Some of these men could and did drink enormous quantities of beer, and for some it mattered not if they were on duty or not. One sergeant after a particularly arduous session at the Surrey County Show in Stoke Park got on his bike to go home and fell off the other side, sprawling in the road. He and his bike were put in the back of the "brown van" and taken home.

Another sergeant, Bill Leahy would always ensure that the stock cupboard was in order when carrying out a pub check or visit. It is just as well that they had an enormous capacity. He could check all the pubs in the town centre, visiting each and every stock cupboard. For a young policeman it was apparently a daunting experience undertaking a pub check with Sergeant Leahy.

I recall Sergeant "banana-feet" Feehan for a different reason. He was a very large and tough Irishman who had lost nothing of his accent, making him sometimes difficult to understand. It was said that one day he was sent from the police station in Woodbridge Road, to peddle fast on his bike up the top of the hill in North Street to where it met the High Street. He was sent to try and intercept a man on a cycle that had stolen a radio and made off at high speed towards the town centre down the Epsom Road.

On coming to the junction with the High Street Sergeant Feehan saw coming down the High Street from the left, a man on a cycle with a radio. That will do. That was good enough. On being commanded in a very loud voice by Sergeant Feehan to stop he did not, and so Feehan, or so the story went, lifted his bike like a toy and threw it at the suspect who was still cycling furiously towards the town centre. The bike hit the suspect who with a yelp and cry was sent crashing into a shop window. It was of course the wrong person.

This story has a number of variations! Sergeant Feehan had been given the nick-name because his feet were so large they drooped over his bike pedals like a banana! Others, including PC "Tiny" Oliver it was said had in his younger days a favourite method of dealing with the rowdy youngsters, particularly the large numbers of military personnel who descended on the town. The policeman would stand behind the shop blinds that hung down onto the pavement and thump the unsuspecting rowdy through the blind. They never knew what hit them.

It is also rumoured that many a soldier or sailor found being a nuisance at the bus station at the bottom of the High Street ended up in the river. It was said that they also carried their truncheon up their sleeve to give a "tap" to the rowdy youths or military men to encourage them on their way.

Most of the new policemen were ex-servicemen in that they had completed their national service. Some had spent longer in the military, many having served in the Second World War. The war and military service generally had an effect upon relationships within the police station.

There were a number of constables who had held commissions in the war and some had been quite senior, seeing a great deal of action. A major in the King's Own Scottish Borderers, pilots, commissioned aircrew, prisoners of war. However, after the war many were happy enough not to have little responsibility no doubt pleased to have survived and now wanted a more quiet life.

Many were very able, more so than some of their supervisors, but remained constables. Others had come to the area as a result of a recruiting campaign in Northumbria and Durham, where unemployment was a huge problem.

What this all meant was that there was no such thing as a typical policeman. They were all different. Some were personable and bright, other more sullen and there was the odd one who was just so thick that they could not survive in the job and were soon weeded out.

The last of the Borough men, taken in 1993 with Stan Harland Superintendent of the Guildford Sub-Division.

About 1993 – the last of the Borough men with Stan Harland Superintendent of the Guildford Sub Division.

  • Back: Unknown, unknown, Jack Gower, Jack Woodford.
  • Middle: Bill Leahy, Jim Rook, Charlie Barham, Digger Field.
  • Front: Wilf Sivill, Stan Harland, Joyce Turner (CID clerk), unkown, Mick Feehan.

The social life was excellent with close contacts with two nurses training hostels at St Lukes and the Royal Surrey hospitals. We could get into the cinemas free on showing our warrant cards and there was always a Chinese restaurant for a cheap treat. There were a great many parties and social events, but not all ended happily.

In a small town like Guildford the policemen became well known to the local criminals and even in those days, drug users. Two events come to mind to make this point.

One of the policemen from the section house Barry Bearne had an open top Jaguar. We were off duty one afternoon and left the police station yard turning into North Street stopping at a pedestrian crossing. For no reason and with little warning we were attacked by a number of youths who recognised us as police officers. I had been sitting on the back of the vehicle, something which would not be allowed today; easily jumped from the vehicle and hit a couple of them so hard they decided to go away! No arrests were made, but no doubt a considerable amount of abuse was exchanged.

Another incident happened at a dance in the Civic Hall in Guildford. This was often the venue for dances with live bands on the stage with many hundreds of the young gathered to dance and drink. I was with PC Garry Askew, ex Merchant Navy, and an accomplished drinker of fourteen pints without any obvious affect on his bearing or behaviour. We had been at the dance for a while when a group of lads started giving us abuse as again they recognised us as police officers.

The abuse turned to threats and one of the yobs we knew to be notoriously violent, came very close and was obviously worse for drink and was about to hit me. After some threats and posturing he came at me and so I grabbed him and threw him to the ground and bounced his head on the dance floor. He decided not to continue his abuse, and his friends backed off. The bouncers came. "Police" we shouted before the embarrassment of being grabbed and thrown out, producing our warrant cards with a flourish. The yobs were ejected and we carried on with our evening out.

Violence and the policeman have always been companions; a factor that is often overlooked when in the present day quite rightly the level of violence is condemned. In Guildford on a Friday and Saturday night, there were double shifts worked after 10 pm covering the bottom of North Street and Swan Lane.

As many as twenty police officers would be there on duty and still there were problems. Frequently at about closing time there would be some considerable ruckus as the soldiery and sometimes the sailors decided to take on the world. We never lost and I do not remember any of the policemen ever being badly thumped. Probably just as well as the person responsible would have had an uncomfortable time.

Police cadets at HQ, 1963/4.

1963/4 Police cadets at HQ

Life was very simple, the public were not demanding, the level of policing problems was low but nonetheless existed as they always have, and there always seemed to be enough police about to do the job. There was no specialist transport, just an old brown Commor van without a radio. You fought with what you had. There were no reinforcements available, no means of summoning more officers.

An officer I spent a great deal of time with on the crime car or Tilly was PC Garry Hyldon from Wood Street. He was a character with a larger than life personality but to a young Cadet, he seemed to be the most capable of policemen. Nothing ever fazed him, and he had the ability to get on with all manner of people.

It was with Garry that I was introduced to many of the larger houses in and around Guildford. He seemed to know everybody and was welcome in their homes for a drink of tea or usually something stronger. On occasions I earned my keep by staying in the car and listening for Control to call "J35, J35 a message". A quick dash to the house and we were soon on the way.

At some "tea stops" the host put on the radio, which was tuned to the Force radio. If the call sign J35 was heard it was a dash to the car with an apology to Control, we were out of the vehicle doing a check. I don't think anyone was fooled.

Another character was a tall slim PC with a twinkle in his eye, Tony Forward. He transferred in from the east of the county and was a man with a considerable sense of humour and was great fun to be with. He retired as Chief Superintendent Eastern Division, married to Garry Hilden's daughter, whose 18th birthday I went to. It was that sort of Force at the time.

There was a drama early one morning when the section house was evacuated. In North Street just up from Leapale Lane was a theatre, possibly The Palace. A night duty PC looked through the door and saw that the building was well alight. The fire brigade were summoned after he ran into the station office to report what he had seen. By now the fire had taken hold and the fire went up into the roof.

As the flames and smoke soared out through a gaping hole in the roof close to the top floor of the section house there was a fear that the flames would jump the road and the section house would go up. The theatre was lost but no damage was caused to our single men's quarters. It was far too late by the time we were allowed back in to go to bed and so the kettle was put on and the snooker table well used for a couple of hours.

The "café society" was prominent in Guildford, but it had several dimensions. The police off duty frequented Boxers in Tunsgate during the evenings. This is where the au-pair girls used to go, and of course the "English police are wonderful". A further bonus was that the cadets were often the only English people they knew outside the family, having spent some time on the registration process at the police station.

During the day the roof garden of Harvey's, now the Army and Navy, was a favoured watering hole. There were other cafes where the purple hearts crunched on the floor when the police came in. There was one of these by the river.

Walking back from HQ one afternoon I saw one of the soldiers from my time as a boy soldier in Chepstow. He was carrying a sleeping bag and was obviously sleeping rough. He had just left the riverside café a known druggie haunt. This man had caused me a great deal of grief during my boy soldier days, as he was an inveterate bully. I was in uniform and he recognised me and we held a brief and stilted conversation.

He probably was beginning to regret some of his behaviour towards me. It was obvious from what he said that he was absent without leave from his unit in the Regular Army. That was good enough for me and a 999 call summoned PCs Lampard and May in their Traffic car a black and shiny Sunbeam Rapier, and an arrest was made.

I got some credit for doing what the policeman thought was the right thing to do now that I had changed from khaki to blue. However, it was an easy decision: I could hardly ignore the fact that I knew that this man was absent. He was certainly not worth my job and in any case - call it sweet revenge!

The swinging sixties brought many of the famous pop stars to Guildford where they appeared at the Odeon cinema in the Upper High Street. On one occasion I was tasked with "guarding" the Rolling Stones' dressing room, which in fact meant I spent several hours in their company in the dressing room as they waited to go on stage. Had I only got their autographs they would be worth a week's pension today! They were friendly, but all I recall know is that they seemed to drink a great deal. The Kinks were another famous group that I saw and also Frankie Vaughan, when the police were given free tickets to the concert because they would not sell.

There were still many circuses with animal acts and of course there were those who wanted such practices to stop. Animal rights are not a new concept. One evening I was in the police station when a call came seeking assistance in the Council Chamber where protesters were disrupting business.

I went with the duty Inspector and we ejected them with little fuss, but making the local newspaper. The Inspector was a huge man, and he and I went into the council chamber. "Mr Mayor, would you ask those that you do not wish to stay to leave" , boomed the Inspector across the crowded council chamber. This was done, and with no more than a request the protesters left. It was reported in the Surrey Ad and there was some flack for the Inspector for taking the boy with him!

Sometimes it was difficult to see the join between work and fun. Cadets completed the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and that took me to Wales in August 1963, for the Gold expedition. We stayed in a hostel, did a few practice walks and then off into the mountains, including going over Snowdon, for a few days, covering sixty miles.

It was very hard. The equipment was very heavy. We had to carry our tent, which was made with the old fashioned materials, and all the food that we were to need. It rained for a great deal of the time, which made everything heavier as the rucksacks and equipment became drenched. We all did the course and passed, returning with relief to the civilised southeast from the rain soaked hills and mountains of Wales.

With about six others I spent a week with a number of Swedish girl guides in tents at a place called Woodlarks at Farnham, where a number of disabled youngsters were on a camping holiday. What one did for one's country when young!

Cadets Fisher, Chapman and Bartlett at Epsom for the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh

Cadets Dennis Fisher, Robbie
Chapman and Bob Bartlett at
Epsom for the visit of the
Duke of Edinburgh

The Duke of Edinburgh Silver award was presented by Sir John Hunt of Everest fame, in the hall at the Royal Grammar School. I was also to be a part of a team of Cadets involved in the award scheme that manned a stall at an event in Epsom when the Duke landed by helicopter and toured the stands. "Do not talk unless spoken to and be careful, he doesn't like policeman" , we were briefed. Finally in November 1964, with my widowed mother, I attended Buckingham Palace and in the ballroom was presented with my award.

The Equerry in Waiting to the Duke of Edinburgh is desired by His Royal Highness to invite Robert Bartlett to attend the presentation of Awards to young people who have reached the Gold Standard in His Royal Highness's Award Scheme at Buckingham Palace at 3 p.m. on Thursday 26th November 1964.

I remember the loos being "posh" and the long picture-lined corridors. My mother waited sat in the ballroom with all the other Mums, and in the gallery a Guards band played Beetles music. Along with others, I formed a queue in an adjoining gallery, from where we entered, bowed to the Duke, received the award, and went out the other side.

Another royal occasion was when the Queen came to open the Woman's Royal Army Corps depot at Stoughton. I "guarded" the car at the railway station before she arrived, and was amused to see the chauffeur polishing the vehicle with polish from Woolworths.

It was not a royal visit but during these years President Kennedy visited Harold Macmillan's home in Sussex. I was probably the only one left in the section house that weekend as everyone else went on aide to Sussex.

There was plenty of sport; swimming in the local pool, PT and football and other games on the vast playing field at Mount Browne. One local invention was murder ball. There were no rules just get the ball across the line of the opposing team. It was more than a little rough, but got the young police officers used to rolling around on the ground and being able to care of themselves.

Our training sergeant was Jack Packham whose immortal cry of "Twice around the world – GO" as he sent the cadets running twice around the enormous sports field for causing him some grief. We were very fit.

Cadets spent quite a lot of time at HQ, which in those days was no more than the mansion plus the stables in which there were the stores and the training department. There was a large kitchen garden, which supplemented the canteen. The whole place seemed to be run by Basher Nash who had a desk in the entrance hall.

There were dormitories on the top floor where we often stayed, and which one-day would be my Operations Department office. Some twenty five years later the room that slept about six cadets including me, was the office for the superintendent operations which I took over from Graham Marshall on my return to Surrey.

One of the more onerous "voluntary" tasks for the Cadets was to act as waiters for the celebration dinner held at the end of the dog training courses frequently held at Mount Browne. Do not underestimate the stresses involved in doing this! I managed to spill soup down Sergeant Darbyshire, a very famous and somewhat daunting cornerstone of early dog handling in the police. Dog handlers have always had a broad range of invective!

Chief Constable Mr Herman Rutherford was there somewhere but at my level little contact. He wrote in green ink as it was and remains a tradition that chief constables wrote in green, and deputy chief constables in red. No one else was allowed to use these colours.

The chief constable appeared to see most things. I had an unusually good report from the Tech College and he sent it to me with a "Well done" . This is a minor point but indicates the level of the workload, and the involvement of senior staff in all aspects of the daily life of the force that is so different from the modern police. The chief was highly regarded with many still speaking with great fondness of his predecessor who had moved to become Sir Joseph Simpson, the Commissioner of the Metropolis.

I spent some time as the Criminal Investigation Department cadet in the house in the yard at the back of the police station in Leapale Lane. The clerk was a harsh, apparently humourless and difficult lady, a Mrs Turner. We shared an office on the ground floor and I made tea, filed, completed registers and looked forward to the days on patrol.

There was some excitement when watchers from MI5 moved in to the front downstairs office. They were there for many days waiting, playing cards, drinking my tea and no doubt eating the McVities. What they were up to I had no idea. One day I was in the front office when a caller came and asked for something using a Box number, of which I had become aware, but bemused the station officer.

I took the visitor across the yard and he obviously thought I knew something of what was going on. "It will happen today and we will be gone." Whatever it was happened because sometime later the phone rang, the office emptied and they never returned. Years later I read that an RAF warrant officer was spying for the Russians and he made a dead letter drop in Guildford at about that time.

The DI was A.N. Smith, not to be confused with the other Guildford Inspectors D.J. Smith and H.J. Smith. The DI sat in an office on the top floor of our Criminal Investigation Department house with his radio tuned to the cricket, with Sergeants Hay and Wright opposite. They dealt with all the crime, as there were no specialists based in HQ.

For some reason I have always remembered one of the early enquiries that took place during my time in the office. Rajah Abdul Kharim Khan raped an Austrian au pair Heidi Hackbarth. She had gone to his flat where he had offered to show her how to make chapattis.

The Force believed in further education and Cadets went every week to the Guildford Technology College in the Stoke Road, for day release. We shared the class with nursing cadets so there was some purpose in going.

It was around this time that I saw my first body. I was on J35 with Garry Hyldon, and we had to deliver some papers. We pulled up outside a wooden building, I think in Woodbridge Meadows, and I was given the papers to take inside. As I walked unsuspectingly through the double doors it became obvious where I was.

The smell is quite distinct, and even if it is new to you, it is obvious what it is. There was a body half way through a post-mortem cut from top to toe with the chest pulled back, and the pathologist head down. It is always the smell of these places that impregnates your clothing, and filters into your inside. It is very difficult to shake off.

Back out to the car without embarrassing myself, to be met by roars of laughter at this great joke, and back to the section house for liver and bacon. They may not have realised it, but they may have, these experienced officers, but by introducing me to the post-mortem in such a painless way they had overcome one of the dreads of any recruit.

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