Reigate

1971: The old Reigate Division: John Molyneux: I came to Reigate/Redhill/Horley at the end of 1971 and although I was nominally posted to Horley, living at Sidlow meant that when they were short of sergeants at Redhill, many of my duties in 1972 were from Redhill police station. What a dump that was.

The front door was at the side of the building and to get to any other part of the building involved going through the front office. I don't think that when it was originally built there was any police presence. I am certain it was originally only a fire station. The offices were open plan often necessitating bringing prisoners past a witness making a statement in the 'interview room'. The CID offices were in another part of the building, upstairs but beyond what had been the garage for the fire engines.

The old Reigate police station at Churchfelle was only used for administrative purposes but had a 'front office' for the public.

The police station at the town hall had long closed, but Reigate Magistrates' Court still sat in the building in the rooms now used as council chambers. Downstairs there were a couple of cells which were used to house prisoners appearing at court. There was a wooden staircase leading from the cells straight into the dock, but these stairs were unusable as the wood was rotten! To get prisoners into court involved taking them from the cell, out of the back door, around to the front entrance and up the main staircase.

Fortunately, a new court house was built and the councillors got their rooms back. This was before the CPS was even thought of and our main uniform prosecutors were PS (Harry) Worth and PS Jack Tanner. When PS Worth retired, I took his place.

In 1973, Salfords rural section opened and I moved to Salfords to take charge of the section. This often meant covering all the area from the Metropolitan Police District boundary in the north to the Sussex county boundary in the south. I had a Ford Escort car to use with the exclusive call sign of B12.

My next-door neighbour at Salfords was PC620 Fred James. Before joining the Surrey Constabulary he had been a Welsh Guardsman which is why he taught drill to the Reigate police cadets. (Are all Welshmen sadists? When I was a cadet, Taff Morgan took us for drill, up and down the front hill at Mount Browne.) Fred is a good example of why you should commute as much pension as possible. He retired in April and dropped dead from a heart attack in the November. Six months retirement!

Reigate Borough Police was one of the first forces to have wireless cars. It used medium waves and linked into the Metropolitan Police system when their call sign was M2GW (nowadays M2MP). I have seen pictures in a magazine showing the wireless operator sitting sideways, in the front seat of the car with a morse key on his lap.

The division was one of the few users of the Stornophone personal radio. With its whip aerial flat and sharp like a flexible steel rule, it was both unwieldy and dangerous. Most divisions had the Pye Pocketphone with its separate transmitter and receiver.

Reception in the eastern side of the county was poor and I remember attending an incident in Warlingham where one PC was stood in a spot where he could transmit, whilst his colleague was about twenty feet further along the road, in a spot where reception was impossible. Sometimes, however, they worked too well - a PC on nights on Caterham Hill, had a conversation with his opposite number in East Anglia.

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