Prewar Policemen


By J Leadbetter

A revealing stories of prewar policemen. J Leadbetter was a conductor ‘on the buses’ for many years and has some¬†revealing stories of prewar policemen.

My best memories of our Rye Police was of P.C. Hutchinson at Rye Police Station. He had many stories and this was one of his favourites.

“I was going along Cinque Ports Street and I saw a big man laying drunk outside The Cinque Ports Hotel, now how to get him to the Police Station? (which at that time was in Church Square).

There was an unlocked door in Market Hill which led to a large garden.. I found a wheelbarrow and decided this was the transport needed. After the struggle to get him in it, began the hard push to the station. (The Police Station was in Church Square) With the help of another P.C. we got him in the cell and I went home. The next day the Inspector said ‘Hutchy’, a wheelbarrow has been reported stolen. I think you know about this and I want you to take it back and explain to the the gardener how you came by it.”

The next memory is of two P.C.’s in Bexhill, this is what one of them told me. ”

“I was on patrol with another constable in Bexhill. We were walking close to the Pole Grove when we came across a man lying in the gutter. We soon discovered he was drunk on methylated spirits. He was far too heavy to carry so we decided to drag him off the road and into the Park. There was a shallow stream nearby so I removed his shoes, made him comfortable on the soft grass, dangled his bare feet in the cold water and then continued our patrol!”

On another occassion I was on a short layover at Warrior Square. We often saw a policeman there. He would have a chat with our drivers, one of whom could not resist popping into the ‘Norman’ for a quick drink. “Fancy one?” he asked the policeman and off they went as our bus pulled out.

The next time I saw that policeman he told me he had only taken one sip when he saw his Inspector come round the corner. He put the glass under his cape to hide it. Walking with great care he accompanied¬†his inspector as far as the White Rock. As they parted the inspector said “You had better drink that and don’t forget to take the glass back”

At one time I was helping my Father cut a cant of wood. To get to his plot I had to cross a field so I put my bike up in the wood close by and went to work. Time came to go home, my bike was gone, I had to walk. After tea I went to find P.C. Betterridge. I told him my bike had been stolen would he keep a look out for it. I told him where it was stolen from. He told me he would like to see for himself. He would come with me in the morning. We looked around, then he said we should go further in and there was my bike! He looked at me with a wink and said “I think that’s worth a large packet of Players” so I paid up.

In 1933 I was working at the Johns Cross Pub and I would often go and chat to the AA Man at the Box opposite the school, his name was Jimmy. At the same time we would often fall in with P.C. Keen, the speed cop. Talking about speeding one day I boasted “It will be a long time before you catch me” he replied “I bet you ‘half a crown’ I could get you to Battle Court within three months”.

“You are on! Jimmy will hold the stakes” I replied.

At that time you only required one rear light on the off side. Coming back from Whatlington a motorbike came up by the side of me, it was P.C. Keen.

“Your rear light is out” he shouted through the window.

“You are joking”, but he wasn’t. After he sped off up the road I stopped and sure enough he was right, when I told Jimmy, he had the stakes all ready. So I loose again.

After making a few calls one Christmas morning, I called at the local Policeman’s house. He came to the door with a glass in his hand putting his hand out to give it to me. He looked at me hard and said “I think you have had enough for today, so I will drink this one, you can have one tomorrow”. But he still let me drive home!

From “Rye’s Own” May 2008 issue

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