Stories from the book, 'The Police in Lewes.' Part 17

An annual report + sports handbook from East Sussex police. '
Old Police Cells Museum
The Paddock, Lewes
Lewes Town Hall
BBC News
New Year's Eve Ball c1966 with a very elderly John Dibley and a very young model from Ringmer as a 'new Year' WPC
The police in Lewes

Sergeant John Dibley was posted back to Lewes in 1960 and then served another 4 years in the Town. However, he returned to Lewes as the Divisional Clerk but not as a Sergeant. By now he had been promoted to Inspector John Dibley. He was now climbing the ‘Police ladder.’

By this time Fred Ward had also returned to Lewes as the Superintendent and with John Bridger as the Chief Inspector for Lewes 


At this time Inspector John Dibley started to do the occasional prosecution work in the magistrates Court. He also undertook the Licencing and Betting and Gaming enquiries on the Division. There was always new legislation coming in and so it kept him busy keeping ahead of the various different and new laws. He found this very interesting as it kept him bang up to date.

It was in this period when Peter Stoner worked with him as a sergeant, that between them they organised the very first staff Christmas dinner at Lewes Police Station.

John, by this time married, recruited his ‘parents-in-law to help and they peeled around a hundredweight of sprouts that were cooked on the domestic cookers of Mrs. Bridger and Mrs. Whitewood, and also one that was in the second flat. In order to keep the price down a low as possible they bought some cheap wine from Torino Wines at Sheffield Park, known for their quality wines and at good prices. It was an extremely popular event, every one enjoyed it and as the years passed this was repeated year after year.

Between them they also organised a concert, again this was around Christmas time. The music was provide by Jack Greenaway on drums, Harley Nutter on trumpet and Mrs. Corry on piano. They were very good. Mrs. Cory sat at the piano all evening, being regularly supplied with a number of gin and tonics. When, eventually came off stage she collapsed and had to be carried to her car and taken home

On the 16th July 1962, HM The Queen paid a visit to Lewes and was received by the Mayor of Lewes at the Town Hall. We had to get extra police in form other parts of the County and Chief Inspector Bridger was at the Town Hall when HM arrived. One sergeant who had never seen HM and Prince Philip before was stunned by the shortness of Prince Philip sitting in the back of the open car with the Queen and also by the amount of make-up he was wearing.

In 1964 Inspector John Dibley was on the move again, this time to a new station at Burgess Hill. He went there as the sub-divisional commander. The Divisional Superintendent at this time was Bill Kilborn. The following year, Reggie Breffit, the chief constable retired after a good many years in that post.

He was replaced by the ex-chief Constable of Pembrokeshire, who was Mr. George Walter Robert Terry, to give him his full name. He came across as a nice guy and full of what he wanted to do. That signalled many great changes and could easily be another book – easily.

One of the great features of police life in those days was the annual sports day for the whole of the East Sussex Force, There were a lot of very talented sports men and women. These sports days to make it all as fair as possible was rotated between Lewes, Bexhill, Haywards Heath and Hove.

The younger man and women of the Force were actively encouraged by just about everyone from the Superintendents down. They wanted then to enter these sports on behalf of the division on which they were currently serving.

Inspector Dibley was eveigled into the Divisional ‘Tug-o- War’ team.  This entailed many evenings in the Paddock in Lewes practising, it has to be said that by the time of the completion we were rather good, or at least we thought we were. We were given plenty of encouragement by just about everyone, including our wives who also wanted us to do well for our Division.

During these practice nights a concrete slab would be suspended on a sort of pulley from a tree and when given the word they would have to pull with everything they had to lift this very heavy object off the ground and as high as they could, The instructor was Bill Izzard, who was the Divisional Officer in charge of Lewes Fire Brigade and one of our sergeants, who from memory was Jessie Foster.

Inspector John Dibley was an all-round sportsman and encouraged all the young officers to get involved with Force Sports of any kind; as well as any social affairs on the Division. One of his sayings was, ‘The more you put into the job, then the more you get out. Over the many years of service that was always so true. There were plenty of officers who found that to be true.

John played football and cricket in the seasons for many years. They had to travel to the away matches by public transport or maybe a coach if an away match at Horsham or Imber Court in London where they played annual matches. At Imber Court Lewes played against the Met. Police Mounted branch who had a very good team. The social side after these matches were always very good. Many times the Lewes police team went home ‘very happy.’

One day the cricket team had a match at Horsham and travelled by coach. On their way home, about 9 or 10 o’clock, as they passed through Cooksbridge they noticed some police activity going on. When they reached the police station they found that a search was going on for a stolen car; John and Laurie Finlay volunteered to help in the search.

‘The result was that I returned home shortly after 1 am to find that my wife and left and gone home to mother? The problem being that she had no idea where I was and we had no telephones to communicate with her in those days. A horrible situation to find oneself in.’

In 1953 John married his sweetheart, jean and they had a long and very successful married life together.

John Dibley was always interested in sport and the social side of the police force. He served on the Social committee for many years and enjoyed every minute that he was. For 4 years from 1960 – 1964 he was the secretary of the East Sussex Police Athletic Association. He was always encouraging other policemen and women to join various groups and enjoy the social and sports side of being in the East Sussex Police Force, a very proud Force and occupation.


These stories have been taken from the Book ‘The Police in Lewes.’ For which I am very grateful.



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