Traffic Department 1958

1958: Traffic Department: Tony (Harold) May: I applied to join the Traffic Dept whilst I was still stationed at Chaldon police house in the old Caterham Sub-Division, part of Oxted Division. I was tested on an Austin A70 by the then police driving instructor PC George Baker and as a result I moved to 43 Burnet Avenue at Burpham Traffic Centre in 1958.

On the 30th September 1958 after a four week course I obtained the first of several first class police advanced driving certificates. The first course was at Kent County Police HQ Maidstone, then later at Essex Constabulary Motor Driving School, Chelmsford. You were re-tested every two years or so.

My first crewmate was PC 80 Ron Searle then later with Danny Shaw, Norman Lampard and Colin Highton. The officer in charge was Inspector Lake (affectionately known to all as Tiger) and two of the sergeants were Charlie Hill and Ron Roffey. Burpham consisted of the W2 area which covered Woking, Weybridge, Chertsey and W3 which covered Godalming, Cranleigh, and Haslemere.

We worked a three shift pattern mostly of 7-3 pm 3-11 pm and 11-7 am so every three weeks we had a long weekend from 3pm on the Friday till 11pm on the Monday, mind you the quick change over from 7am and back at 3pm was a bit of a bummer. You alternated between being a driver and observer.

Some of the PCs I remember there were John Boxall, William Tappenden, Fred Caruthers, Ray Searle, Ron Searle, Ken Gosling, Eric Spurgeon, Bomber Brown, Tony Keefe, Ted Wild, Johnny Hitt, Ernie Oliver, Frank Kennison, Doug Brazier, Peter Barbrooke, Ralph Cooper, Gerry Atfield, Jim Platt-Higgins (who lived in the Woking area), Fred Drakely, Charlie Brunt, George Warner. Colin Highton (who lived at Knaphill), Don Fordham, Jeff Weekes (an ex Guildford Borough man) John Boyes and George Garrad. Later the inspector was Bill Bruce and Sergeants Norman Jesty and John Nicholas.

We started with Austin A70s, then progressed to A90s, then Sunbeam Talbots and when I left in 1965 Ford Zephyrs. Space in the boot of the cars was at a premium because the radio took up such a large chunk of it and then we had to carry lots of fold up Police Signs, shovels, brooms, flares etc., With the Sunbeam Talbots it was quite a nightmare. The inspector's car call sign was J27.

The shift began with a briefing by the sergeants, allocation of car etc., then out on patrol, meal breaks were taken separately so that the car was constantly at readiness and crews came in forty five minutes before finishing time to enable the car to be washed, cleaned, tyre pressures and equipment checked and refuelled ready for the next shift.

The petrol pump was situated across the yard in front of the garages and had to be turned by hand. Each driver had to sign the log book in and out and any faults brought to attention of the garage mechanic or HQ Garage.

Burpham Traffic Centre consisted of a single storey brick building with four or five ‘bays' as they were called which had vertical folding doors, I think, and the cars were backed in to stand over drip trays. There was a small office for the inspector, then a patrol office/briefing room and finally another bay which was a garage workshop.

The garage mechanic PC was Jack? (I can' t remember his name but I believe he had diabetes and eventually went blind.) Each end of the building there was a piece of spare ground and the police caravan was parked there, this was at the bottom of my garden.

The caravan was used as a mobile police station attending events such the Boxing Day motor cycle scramble at Pirbright and the Point to Point at Peper Harrow or other major incidents. There was a large concrete yard in front of the centre with in and out entrances.

The centre was entirely surrounded by police houses on all four sides. Burnet Avenue, Bryony Road and Coltsfoot Drive, and there was additional Police housing on the opposite sides of Coltsfoot Drive and two sergeant' s houses were situated at the end of Burnet Avenue just before the junction with Burpham Lane and the inspector' s house was a little way up Burpham Lane near Coniers Drive. It was known throughout the village as the ‘Police Estate'.

Each house had a fairly large expanse of grass in front which was kept immaculately by a grounds-man called, I think, George and it was unheard of for any cars to be parked on it. There was a small compound to the rear of Coltsfoot Drive which faced on to the rear of the Burpham Parade of shops for private cars and there was a footpath from Coltsfoot Drive leading to the Shopping Parade.

There were on the estate some divisional police officers living there as well including Alec Buckton and Sergeant Norman Cooper who was in the Control room. Burpham was one of a series of Traffic Centres covering the County others were Chertsey, Dorking and Godstone. I must say that the seven or eight years I spent there were some of my happiest ones.

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