Stories from the book, 'The Police in Lewes.' Part 4

Priory School lewes
The beer mats where produced to coincide with the October beer edition of The Viva Lewes Magazine
Queens Road
Lewes Town Council

The final ‘Stand Down’ parade of East Sussex Police, which included Lewes Town Police, prior to the amalgamation in 1968, was held at the Lewes Priory School’s playing fields, in Mountfield Road, Lewes.

Present were representatives from the various branches of the Force and who were all paraded together for the very last time. The parade was to be inspected by the Duke of Norfolk, the senior Duke in England. It was this day that Don Marsh can remember very well. His memory was when he was on traffic control at Star Corner in order for the Duke with a police motor cycle escort could arrive at the parade ground with the minimal of delays. Don saw the Traffic police motor cycle, ridden by Vic Robbins approaching from the ‘bottleneck,’ with a green limousine behind him. Don held up the traffic for the Duke, as had been arranged. The traffic police motor cycle turned right and descended Station Street, en route to the Parade. However, the green limousine then turned right into the White Hart car park. Don then assumed that the green limousine had nothing to do with the Duke and that he would be along shortly. However, after a few minutes, a very anxious Vic Robbins appeared riding up Station Street and wondered what had happened to the Duke. He asked Don whether he had seen the green limousine which should have been following him, and where had it gone to?  

Don answered yes, he had seen it and that the occupants were in the White Hart Bar. After the Duke had been ‘refreshed’, he and the escort now re-united continued on their way to the Parade Ground, where the Duke performed his ceremonial duties.

On the 1st January 1968, Lewes Town police were part of the new Sussex Police Force.

Lewes Town was usually a quiet and well behaved sort of place and in particular during the evenings were very well behaved. It was a little noisier at the weekends, but that had to be expected with more people ‘out and about’ enjoying themselves. One of the exceptions to this was on one occasion when a horse from one of the four Lewes training stables won the Derby. Now that was really something to celebrate. The horse was called Charlotttown and had been trained by Mr. Smythe of Heath House stables, which was situated to the rear of Lewes Prison. After the race the horse was ‘led in’ by the ‘head lad’ Michael Jarvis who was a very experienced member of the Smythe team. Michael Jarvis lived in South Street, Lewes.

That evening dozens of the local jockeys and stable lads took to the streets – extremely happy, they were out to enjoy themselves on this night. Apart from being very happy they were also extremely noisy, who could blame them. One call to the Cliffe area was attended by KB 15 and on arrival of the sergeant a short time later. Don Marsh could be seen in Cliffe corner car park talking earnestly to one of the lads. They were walking slowly across the car park and looking eye to eye. The only thing out of the ordinary  was that the ‘lad’ was only four feet nothing, while Don was six feet something., Then all of a sudden, the lad found himself at least two feet off the ground and being securely held aloft by the neck of his shirt the whole time that Don was giving him ‘some advice. Matters were a lot quieter after that ‘advice being given.’


Charlottown was bred in England in 1963 at Lady Zia Wernher’s stables. The horse’s career only lasted a little over two years from 1965 to 1967. He ran 10 races and won seven of them. He is best known for winning the 1966 Derby. He was owned by Lady Zia Wernher

The 1966 Derby was run at Epsom Race course and attended, as usual by Her Majesty and Prince Philip.

Just prior to the start of the 1966 Derby, Charlottown’s price was 5-1 but dropped down to 9-2 which made him joint favourite. This was the price he won the race on. He carried ‘Number 13’ in the race, certainly not an unlucky number for the people of Lewes. He was ridden to victory by ‘Scobie’ Breasley, a brilliant jockey during that era.

During his racing career, he won a total of £78,000. He was not a success as a stallion during his retirement. He was exported to Australia in 1976 and died there in 1979 after a paddock accident.

It’s all in the patient’s best interest.

On one occasion a local GP contacted the Police Station asking for some assistance with a mentally ill patient who urgently needed to be sedated. Four constables and a sergeant attended a particular house in the Winterbourne area. On arrival each constable held onto a limb and the sergeant sat on the patient’s stomach. After a tense struggle the GP managed to inject his patient, but only in between times when the patient was not struggling and lifting all the constables and sergeant some way into the air. This patient was very strong as he tried very hard to escape the doctor’s ‘needle.’ In more recent times one reads of police brutality in such cases as this one. Perhaps the ‘do-gooders’ should try and hold down one of these mentally ill people and they could see just how difficult it is. One mustn’t forget it is all for the patient’s best interest.

Reminiscent of organ stops.

On one very thundery morning the Queen’s Road contingent on the early shift (6am – 2pm) were leaving home about 5.30am and the air seemed to be charged with electricity. On looking across the road it could be seen bright blue sparks and small zig-zag of electrical energy coming from all the Radio Rediffusion junction boxes for the entire length of the police Houses in the road. On reaching the police station in West Street and having received that morning’s briefing by the Sergeant, some of the early turn-turn happened to be in the enquiry office. The time was then a few past six am. Jack Greenaway was late in with from his from his ‘second half’ night duty foot patrol of the Wallend’s area, as his relief was wondering what the holdup was. Just a few minutes later Jack arrived in the doorway and looking very dishevelled and with his eyes sticking out reminiscent of ‘organ stops.’   His speech at this point wasn’t very coherent either and he didn’t really seem to know where he was or what he was doing there. All the officers present were very curious as to what had happened to poor Jack, a popular member of their team. Should they get him to the hospital they wondered, obviously something wasn’t right with him. It transpired that on his return towards the police station there had been a very bright flash and a really deafening roar of thunder, it seems that Jack had a very close call from a higher authority, and was extremely lucky to be coming in from his night shift.

Poor Frank didn’t like early turn

Another time when the night shift handed over to the early shift was particularly remembered by Sergeant Number 60, Frank Whitewood. On this morning he had just arrived for the early shift from his flat at the rear of the Police station. As usual he had brought his morning cup of hot coffee. His eyes were watering excessively, which was why he had to keep wiping his eyes with a very large white handkerchief. The night driver, Constable 202 White, a rather quietly spoken Scot went to the sergeant’s office to tell the early shift sergeant about the temporary traffic lights problems on the A27 at Firle. He started quietly in his Scottish burr to say, ‘excuse me Sarge, but you know there are temporary traffic lights at Firle……’ Just then the early turn sergeant interrupted, and bellowed out very loudly, I know there are traffic lights at Firle,’ and spraying tears all over the desk as he did so. The PC looked at him and gave up and retired hurt. Poor Frank did not like early turn, even more so this particularly morning. He was always like a ‘bear with a sore head’ when he was on earlies.

Written and researched by David Rowland, with grateful thanks to the book ‘The Police in Lewes.’


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