Our Patch 1

St. James' Street looking East, c. 1895
mage reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council
Police Station, The Level c. 1905: A view of Brighton Police Station on The Level with pedestrians in the foreground and a tram moving past.
Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council
Peter Capaldi (Dr Who) and the Tardis
A seagull is pictured flying down John Street outside Brighton's police station
Detached villas on Wellington Road. Number 18, derelict in 2014, is the only survivor.
John Street Police Station

Brighton Police was formed in 1832

Brighton Police was formed in 1832 with just a handful of officers but gradually as the population increased the number of police officers  increase in order to look after them and keep matters in order.

The need for smaller offices to house these officers was needed. A lot of thought was required to place these premises where they were most needed. It was decided that the first new District Office should be in Upper St. James Street in order to cover the expanding area of Kemp Town. The premises needed a rest room, although that wasn’t the priority, an office, stables for an officer’s horse and a tack room, albeit a very small room were the main priority.

This building is still there and can be viewed in Upper St. James’ Street., It is a nice building. The last time I saw it from the outside it was a  nice, clean, smart second hand shop. It is topped with a balustrade red front roof’ It is at the top of Grafton Street, In the old days when, as constables we had to finish our shifts with making a point, one of the points happened to be outside this old police station, how ironic eh?

No.2, Freshfield Road

In about 1885 this district police station was replaced by another slightly larger Police station at No.2, Freshfield Road, well gone by now. The exact location was almost at the bottom of Freshfield Road near to Eastern Road. This made it easy for the policemen to get a bus home and to get a bus to  work, although I am not sure that was the real reason for putting it there. The Authorities have never thought of their policemen in that way. Before or since.

Other District Police stations seemed to spring up in different parts of the town such as the south-western end (1865-1919) of the Level. That was later the ‘Park-Keeper’s hut. During the latter part of The Second World War I was taken in there and given a good dressing down for misbehaving, which was totally my fault. (my grandmother didn’t know half, I would never have got into the Police.)

Yet another one appeared at No.26, West Hill Road (1876-1919.) and later around about 1903 another one appeared at Preston Circus Fire Station. In  1871, a District Police Station appeared to grow at No. 18, Middle Road Preston Park area. Just along the road  in 1888 the Local Authority felt they wanted yet another one on the western side of the Main Road, a site which is now occupied by the Homeleigh Block of flats. This was meant to cover the area of Patcham. This was a nice area and after a spate of thefts and burglaries and the Chief Constable, (Thomas Carter.)  being badgered for more police, a small police station was built.


Meanwhile, it appeared that Rottingdean to the east of the town had been forgotten entirely. Although a residential development was being built. No one had given much thought, if any, to the Policing of this area. Then, all of a sudden the Police or someone appeared to wake up and a small district police station was built on some waste ground on the western side of the of The High Street and West Street. This was moved to a house in 1916. There was another police station for Rottingdean after a lot of letter writing to and from the Council and members of the Public and a subsidiary one was placed at Rifle Butt Road in Black Rock, quite a way from Rottingdean.

However, in 1928, most of these District Police Stations were discontinued and were replaced by Special Telephone call-boxes. However, the Rottingdean District Police Station being the exception to the rule until about 1931. However, a new Police Station was re-opened and stayed in situ until 1959, I worked from there for a couple of years. It was opened every day for a couple of hours for members of the public to come into either for a chat or to show their documents. It was situated just east of the Traffic Lights and is currently a hardware shop. It was a lovely little place to work.

The Police-Box System.

Things started to change within Brighton Police, a new system was introduced called the Police-Box System. When small Police boxes started to appear on street corners, better known today as Dr. Who Tardis machines. These were where policemen would start and finish their 8 hour shifts from, also where they sat and ate their sandwiches at the meal-break and enjoyed a cuppa. This quiet time was shared with hordes of ants and in some boxes  mice and rats.

The Police Training wing

In 1947, A Police Training wing was set up in some large Villas in Wellington Road at numbers 21- 27. Two years later in 1949 this Training wing was converted into a Police Station. The Town was then divided into two Divisions, A and B Divisions. The Town Hall was called ‘A Division which covered mainly the Brighton Town Centre and Wellington Road Police Station was named ‘B Division and covered the rural side of Brighton. When the new Police Station in John Street was built and opened, both A and B Divisions were moved to John Street Police Station in 1965. Wellington Road was knocked down and replaced by a block of flats.

When I had completed my training at Folkestone and returned to Brighton, I was posted to Wellington Road, B Division.  In 1965 when we moved the two police stations into John Street, I helped to move the contents of Wellington Road Police Station to John Street, that took a total of 2 weeks, Monday to Friday.

Comments about this page

  • The ‘B’ Division Police Station was a large part of my formative years as I lived in one of the flats provided for officers and their wives, I think there were 6 of them on the upper floor from one end of the large building to its other end. I lived in 25a Wellington Road which was to the right of the station entrance. It had its own entry with two 2 bed apartments therein. Our neighbour across the hallway was Sgt E. Geer aka (Ebby Gere). I well remember playdates with two young daughters of another officer PC Andrews whose daughters Elaine and Yvonne I played with in the grounds of the Police Station.

    By Michael Church (son of Don Church PC who became Detective Sergeant with the new Sussex Force. (20/12/2018)

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