WELLINGTON ARCH POLICE STATION (On Left) and Apsley House, whose official address is No 1, London
(Wellington Arch Police Station was the second smallest Police Station in The World. Cannon Row Police Station boasted having THE smallest Police Station in The World on its ground, situated on Trafalgar Square)
PERSONAL MEMORIES OF 'AW ' by John (Porridge) Hall Ex PC 313 'A' /153694.
'AW' was a really happy place to work and we even kept an "Old Boys" book with updated notes on old "Archers". With just 6 PCs on early and late turns and two on nights. For some reason, long lost in the mists of time, we worked an hour on from 'AD' and for a young lad a 7am start for early turn made all the difference! We were nominally under the command of two "Senior P.Cs" , who in those days were Ernie Godfrey and Archie ...?
Ernie was later to go for promotion but at that time was just a well proven, slightly cynical PC with a wicked sense of humour. On the work front he was very, very keen, and rumour has it that was set on getting one "process" for every Road Traffic offence in the wee book we all carried..............rumour has it that by then he was looking for the real gems - like steam lorries dropping cinders and taxi drivers with no horse fodder! He was also one of the leading practical jokers around the Arch..........firework lowered down the stair well to explode outside the air vent to the tiny Comm's Room wherein sat Wally Richie trying to quietly solve some complex chess problem. Ah! - Wally, never known to actually arrest anybody or do anything too fierce - but friend to the many Americans who wanted to chat to a "Real English Bobby" , avid collector of antique ivory and exotic chess sets. A bachelor, who's personal frying pan in the wee canteen was an object of great interest and discussion by many visiting souls.
Of course we did work too. Mainly the traffic points as our main reason for being, but also to facilitate the frequent "Royals" and deal with accidents in the underpass ............and we were good at it! You took your life in your hands when you stepped out in the road to try to stop traffic from entering the underpass, no barriers or anything more sophisticated than one poor PC with his hand raised.............and of course there was always someone who thought he was the exception!
Just sometimes we were inclined to get a bit evil, particularly when either an 'AD' "guvenor" or a TD bloke decided that they could do "our" traffic points better and tried to tell us how to work the four of them........"Grid lock" is the modern expression I think, and it could be set up pretty quickly too! All a bit juvenile I know but we were mainly pretty young and quite "bolshie" with it (Which is perhaps a bit odd when you consider the number of us that went on to promotion?)
To the best of my knowledge no senior officer ever did tumble to the fact that we had a buzzer rigged from the front office to the canteen and that at the first sign of stripes or pips approaching a well oiled proceedure was set in motion, whereby loafing PCs quietly made an exit, climbed the stairs, crossed over to the other side of the arch, descended and either quietly waited until the coast was clear or exited on the far side of the Arch - to appear,innocently whistling, at some later time! Some sergeants were reckoned to be "with us" and some "agin us"...................if you got tea brought down to you you know you had passed the test!
Because we were self catering we had a good rapport with both the fruit seller outside Saint Georges Hospital ......and a wonderfully quaint little grocers shop run by a very Welsh gentleman in a tiny Mews off Knightsbridge (Yes - I know, it wasn't on our patch........but then not much was and you met a lovely class of person strolling down to buy some fresh rolls, butter and sliced Wiltshire ham). Humour also surfaced in that department too. I was the butt of someones sense of fun the day when I had bought a tin of the newly introduced "Heinz London Grill"...........Whilst I was out waving my arms at the motor cars they carefully opened the bottom of the tin, substituted good Constitution Hill type army horse dung for the contents and then soldered the bottom back in place. Yes - I had actually got as far as heating it in a saucepan and commented that it smelled a bit "funny" before they all cracked up laughing!
I also never did discover who taped a very large firework under the back of my motorbike with a cigarette slow fuse. It went off fairly satisfactorly somewhere by Admirality Arch.......... I don't suppose PC humour has changed that much!
Talking of humour - there was the lovely afternoon when a very drunk scotsman decided to urinate in the lee of the big gates of the Arch.................He was painting quite a pretty pattern when, mid stream, he became aware that several uniformed policemen had crept out and were watching his performance ..........and yes he was nicked!
Of course nicking people created something of a problem because we had absolutely nowhere to put a prisoner and 'AD' were not always the quickest of the mark with transport for them!
Then there was the saga of the typewriter...............big office Olivetti we used to have - just the thing on nights for writing love letters, or keeping in contact with the nearest and dearest. Then on a visit the Ch Insp noticed it and thought it was far too good for us. Next thing we know is that we have an old thing that looked like a cinema organ and needed the strength of a gorilla to operate. Weren't having that were we! ...... Gave it a week or so and then bit of constructive minor sabotage and down went a memo to AD asking for a replacement. It was only then that said Ch Insp stated, very firmly, that it was actually his own personal and long cherished typewriter that he had just loaned us while he used ours to type up some important paper he was submitting, or something like that. Panic was followed by really good constructive thought and help was enlisted from the Casualty Dept at St Georges for such things as suture thread for a substitute carriage return cord.
And talking of St Georges who was it that scrounged a syringe to inject cheap Indian scent into the heater hose of the duty officer who made a pest of himself by loafing around the Arch on nights? Oh!.... good old days!
Regards to all,
John (Porridge) Hall. Ex PC 313'A' / 153694
REQUEST FROM PAUL GRIFFITHS of ENGLISH HERITAGE:
Following a major conservation project, English Heritage opened The Wellington Arch, one of London's finest neo-classical monuments, as a major tourist attraction in April 2001. Since then over 50,000 people have explored the Arch learning about its interesting and varied history.
Part of the exhibition space is a temporary exhibition area, which changes periodically. We are currently exploring the possibility of filling this space with an exhibition exploring the Arch's use as London's smallest Police station. This is largely dependent on what information and material we are able to gather.
To this end we call upon Police Officers who served at Wellington Arch (AW) to supply us with:
Any Photographs of AW in use as a Police Station.
Any reminiscences of AW's operational functions.
Any anecdotes of any incidents at AW.
We guarantee to return any material supplied and, if required, to acknowledge the donor. Your co-operation will help us represent the Metropolitan Police force within the history of the Arch and build an exhibition of great interest to both the general public and past and present members of the Police force.
Please send material to:
The Wellington Arch
Hyde Park Corner
Tel: 0207 930 2726
DON'T FORGET ALPHA DELTA PLUS IF YOU FIND ANY INTERESTING PICTURES, STORIES ETC.
From Chris Barker, ex PC 271 'A'/147697
On Saturday 14th September 2002, I, with many other older citizens from Camberley, returned to Town as tourists! Of the places visited was dear old 'AW'! It is good to find that English Heritage are now the custodians of the Arch. Yes, despite older age we all went 'up top' and looked down over Hyde Park Corner and into the grounds of The Palace!The EH & Blue Badge guides were most interested in the print out I took with me from your 'AW' page. Seems they didn't know too much about the old 'AW'! Keep up the good work!
'AW' In The 1930's.
Presented by Ex PC.149 'A'/121151 George SHARP.
In those early years 1931, "AW' was a 'Traffic Control' post only
for Hyde Park Corner Traffic. There were no traffic lights. In those days
the 'ATS' was in its infancy and there were none on 'A' division at all.
The Hyde Park Corner Roundabout was much smaller than today. Four Officers
controlled the traffic. One at the exit of East Carriage Road Gate, another
at Park Lane and Piccadilly and another at Piccadilly/ Grosvenor Place by
the Artillery Memorial. Traffic from Knightsbridge into the roundabout was
controlled by 'B' Div Pc. allow for another Officer relieving and you had 4
'AW' men employed.
Standing at the top of 'Constitution Hill' (6 beat). above the
Central Arch of 'AW' was a 'dormitory' which served approximately 12 or
more Officers. They worked 'Days' Only in 2 shifts 8am-4pm-12mdnt. No Night
Duty, which was a 'perk' of you liked that sort of thing.
In my opinion to call 'AW' a small Police Station is a misnomer, as
I have said it was mainly used as a 'Section House' and to open the Central Arch
for Royalty if they were travelling via 'Constitution Hill. You would have
been 'hard put' to find a 'Charge Sheet', there was no Blue Lamp, and as
far as I am aware there were No Cells'. The space within the supporting
Pillars of the 'Arch' would have been very limited.
On 3 occasions I found myself posted as 'Aid' to 'AW' and this was
not uncommon. With 4 Officers appointed to various positions around the
'Roundabout' and 2 shifts 'AW' would often be shorthanded and apply to 'AD'
for 'relief', therefore it would not be uncommon if as a resident of the
'Section House' at 'AD' and posted 'Night Duty' at 'AD' , to find
yourself being awakened from your night duty slumber around 2pm to be
informed that instead of 'Night Duty' you would be posted at 'AW' 4pm-12nt.
This could be most annoying, having your evening appointments
interfered with, it also meant catching up with the 'Cook' downstairs in
the kitchen to arrange cancelling your 8pm night relief dinner for a 2pm
dinner as Breakfast, 'AW' was too far away to attempt the walk to 'AD' at
refreshment time, as we only had 30 mins. for Refreshments. (This was later
increased to 45 min) this also applied if you were working Constitution
Hill (6 beat) it also meant that at 3-15pm you grabbed a Rubber Traffic
Suit from the Uniform Room and made you way up to 'AW' to be there by
3-45pm. When your returned to 'AD;. at 12.45am you reported to the Station
Officer but you would not ask for 'time off' for the extra hour involved.
On each occasion that I was posted to 'AW' I found, myself in the
same position, at the corner of Piccadilly and Grosvenor Place near the
'Artillery memorial. This corner was a 'dicey' one, a down slope, the road
surface was wood blocks dressed with Bitumen and Gravel. In the worn places
it was very slippery when wet, and you never turned your back on traffic
until completely stationary in case you found a double decker Omnibus
broadside on sliding broadside on towards you.
Inside the Blue doors in the West Arch of 'AW' was the Office and
the Sgt. in charge with the 'OB', there was also a small room for
refreshments, but I never went upstairs as I considered this to be private
property and did not become fully conversant with the residents living
conditions. I know that on occasions in the Summer the residents were free
to 'Sunbathe on the roof, Nevertheless I disliked the place intensely.
My one dread was being transferred to 'AW' 'AH' 'PoW' or 'BP' as
it was known that unless you were a Sportsman with 'Trophy's to adorn the
Trophy case in the Office, there was a possibility that after you had
passed out of the 'zone of promotion' (8 or9 years service ) you could be
transferred to either 'AH' 'AW' 'BP' or 'PoW' and that was not my
intention, my break came in 1933.
It would be nice to hear from any Officer who served at AW up to
the time of its closure to find out how things had changed (if any) from my
leaving the 'Job' in 1956. Although transferred to 'C' in 1934 I
became, 'Mobile' ('C' 'B' and 'V'' DT5. C.O. Flying Squad) and still worked
'AD' on a fairly regular basis .
I returned to 'AW' as a visitor in Sept 1977 but the door was
locked and the 'Arch' appeared unattended. A second occasion about 6 years
ago I returned, but time prevented me from visiting Hyde Park Corner except
for a run through the underpass from Knightsbridge to Piccadilly, and from
a view of the latest ariel photographs would have been amazed at the
Cheers for now.
George. Sharp P.C. 149A
DON'T FORGET TO VISIT GEORGE'S OWN PAGE (Where he writes about his early days at AD in the thirties) Click on PC Image to right for 'SIGNPOST' (Express Navigation) then select 'George Sharp Page'.
Alpha Delta Plus,
Anyone throw any light on what happened to Jim & Stan the paper sellers at Westminster Tube Station. Can't recall the surname but they were more or less adopted staff. Two nice chaps whose presence always helped to pass the hours posted to "Big Ben" (P.P. No ?). They were able to supply all the booze for my wedding at a very reasonable price may I say. Legit? YES!! Does anyone else recall them? I think they hailed from Catford or Lewisham as I recall Jim having been at the Lewisham train crash which was near him. While I'm on..AW. Now re-opened as an English Heritage site. Must go & have a look. I was there with, Dave Hannant, Ernie Godfrey, Colin Davison and others whose names are no longer logged. The canteen was upstairs which really didn't allow an escape route but a warning buzzer was installed by the switchboard as an early warning device. On activation it was a frantic scramble over the top of the arch,down the other side where the air shaft was and out through the side window. It must have looked very strange to passers by to see coppers clambering out of this window and dispersing in all directions for a place of refuge. A capture did take place on one occasion and I think Neville Longman was the Insp. involved. On another occasion Colin Davison & I were N/D and Colin who really struggled with Nights, went upstairs for his grub. He had been gone some time when there was an almighty bang from the canteen. I ran upstairs to find Colin fast asleep whilst the contents of a tin of spaghetti were strewn across the ceiling. He had put the tin in a pan of water without puncturing the can. Enough of this but there are many more. See you all,
Sammy Main Ex 461A
(Sam, it was 10 Protection Post...JH)
I regret to say both dear old Jim & Stan Hurrel are up above. Stan died 5th May 2000. Jim either 25th July or 1st August 2001.
I was able to attend Stans lovely Funeral Service, at South London Crematorium on Tuesday 16th May. Loads of Ex A Division and Yard Men of all descriptions and many other friends were present. His Grandson Daniel Lawrence sung Schubert's Ave Maria beautifully & his other younger Grandson Michael Lawrence, spoke some nice words he had written. These boys are from his daughter of his first marriage, when Stan did live in I think Brownlow Road, Catford, on the junction with I think Torridon Road.
As you know he was later married to Gwen who is Danish. Stan had a terrible accident in Hastings where they lived at weekends and were friendly with 585A Alan Young formerly of Bath City and Borussia Dortmund. Alan was also a good golfer but he to has passed away. Stan did recover but was lame as a result.
When Jim retired he Vi & Martin had left Searls Road (off the Old Kent Road), which is where he and Stan were brought up by their Dad & Mum who lived with Vi and Jim in the end. ( Wag the father, was the man who started the pitch at Westminster Underground & was the Boxing Trainer of Jim Titmuss, Harry Yorke, Roger Hunter, Dave Llewellyn & Reg Webb. All except Reg were Eu Police Champions. All pre War, Roger and Harry were killed in the war Roger was the pilot of the Short Sunderlan Film called Coastal Command). They then moved up to Favells, in Milton Keynes, to be near Jacqui their daughter.
I was unfortunately when Jim died in Spain, at my flat, where Jim & co had had a few holidays, . Hence I missed the funeral, so sent a contribution to Vi which netted 688 pounds & 87p re service collections and cheques. This went to various charities. They were wonderful guys. I never managed to tell them a joke they had not heard. However, they told me thousands. I was at a dinner once and they were together the joint speakers. It was hilarious, they kept up a non stop repartee of fairly clean jokes. We were all in fits. They are sorely missed.
I must say again how much I enjoyed your contributions to the web site and also Eamon's. It was good to see old Baino again at the reunion of POW Staff. I didn't recognise him at first.
Terry Brooks Ex Pc 154 'A'
PLEASE SEE IMAGE AND TEXT REGARDING EX PC 348'A' WALLY RITCHIE......POSSIBLY THE LONGEST SERVING OFFICER AT ONE POLICE STATION (AW) IN THE METROPOLITAN POLICE: Select 'General 'A' Pictures (1)' from main menu at top of page.