Stories from the book, 'The Police in Lewes.' Part 18

Glynde railway station
Plumpton races
Ringmer. A view of the village from Saxon Down with the High Weald prominent on the horizon.

This chapter deals with some of the memories that PC Jack Greenaway had while he was stationed in and close to Lewes Police Station. Jack was one of those characters that everybody knew, liked and got on with. It is also true to say that he was respected by his fellow officers.

In this chapter he talks about the various characters in Lewes as well as those who worked in the sub-division of Lewes during the 1950’s and 60’s. There were plenty as the following stories will show.

Jack Greenaway

Jack Greenaway was a well-built policeman, very keen and very intelligent too. He had always wanted to be a policeman and at last he had achieved his goal. After his training he was posted to Lewes and quickly made friends with his colleagues.

His first sergeant was Sergeant No. 60 Francis Whitewood and he was a legendary figure. It is possible to write a lot more about him, in fact I could write a whole book about him but space permits this.

As a constable he worked as a rural constable in Glynde. He knew the place as well as he knew the back of his hand and he was known by just about everyone who resided there. Many of these residents had humours stories about him. They were very sad to see him leave after being promoted to Sergeant. He had been there a very long time and everyone liked and trusted him. In fact he moved to Glynde on the 18th March 1937 and was the first officer to work that area when the rural areas came into being. He left the village on 12th July 1955; so as you can see he served there for a very long time.


When he was promoted to Sergeant he was transferred to Lewes where he became the Rural Sergeant with responsibility for …… Glynde! Francis was known affectionately by his rural section and other officers as ‘Fod.’ This was as a result of his main interest in his huge garden at Glynde, this garden resembled a small holding. This is where he grew fodder beet for animal food. As I have already mentioned he was well built being over 6 feet tall and he once put it ‘with a ‘dropped chest.’ This increased his girth quite a bit. He was in the Army and rose to become a RSM in the guards. It is true to say that his voice matched his size and when he shouted, it was probably true that most of Lewes heard him. He was certainly extremely strong and on one occasion, there were a couple of yobs from the Town Hall dance. He gave them a chance by going away, they didn’t and so he picked them up, one under each arm and back to the Police Station in Lewes. There, he deposited them over the counter to the waiting Sergeant, who was Sergeant Stan Riley. Stan never treated trouble makers with any respect at all.

48 lettuces gone!

Francis Whitewood was Jack Greenaway’s rural sergeant when he was moved to Ringmer in January 1959. It was shortly after arriving at Ringmer that he was given some lettuce plants by one of the local smallholders. He planted them in his back garden. Jack was the junior of all the rural officers on the section and as a result he was forced to take his annual leave in early May. At this time the lettuces were ready for cutting. Sergeant Whitewood said that he would keep an eye on the premises while he was away and in return he was told to help himself to the lettuces.

After being away for 10 days jack returned and all the 48 lettuces had gone. It was mentioned to Francis  who said that all his family loved lettuces.

A while later, while Jack was on duty at the Cliffe, Jack found out that ‘Mr. Whitewood had brought in some nice lettuces and had sold them to Clarke’s greengrocers! A lesson was truly learnt.

‘Left hand down a bit’

There was another story I clearly remember too. This involves Sidney (‘Nobby’) Clarke. Nobby also was a rural officer stationed at Glynde, in fact took over from Francis Whitewood, when he was promoted. Nobby was the rural policeman from 18th July 1955 until March 1966. Sergeant Whitewood went to meet Nobby on a point in Glynde, this was sometime in the early 1960’s A light aircraft was circling and the pilot appeared to be looking for somewhere to land. It was when ‘Fod’ looked up at the aircraft and waving Nobby’s cape rather like a bull-fighter, made off for a suitable field in which the aircraft could land. It was when the aircraft was approaching the cape waving Sergeant, Fod realised that behind him was a tree, and so cupping his hands to his mouth he shouted to the pilot, ‘Left hand down a bit,’ At this, poor Nobby convulsed, finding hard to stop  laughing. The aircraft landed safely and Fod said to Nobby, in all seriousness, well, I just had to do something or he would have had that tree.’

Apart from growing vegetables larger than anyone else ‘Fod’ for example, managed to grow sprouts larger than anyone else and were as big as your fist. His great pleasure was enjoying things, such as on the occasion when ‘rookies’ from another police station were going in the back of the ‘Black Maria,’ index number EAP 93, which happened to be call sign KB25.


During the Plumpton Races over the Easter Period, some of the duties involved using a large mallet to knock three wooden ‘No Parking’ signs into the verge on the approach road which led to the race course. The signs had been placed on the Easter Saturday and removed that evening which left the holes in the ground. It had rained between then and the morning of Waster Monday when these signs had to be replaced there again. ‘Fod’ who was always seated next to the van driver in the front., instructed the driver to stop by each of these holes. He had already told these ‘Rookies’ to use the old holes to re-erect these signs again, saying that it would be easier than making new holes. Then, the van driver was elbowed in his ribs by Fod, to watch these rookies who were either holding these signs or using the mallet to knock the signs into the ground. Every time a Rookie hit the sign with the mallet, he would get splashed with dirty and muddy water. Their uniforms were in such a mess.  Fod and the driver just couldn’t stop laughing at these poor rookies.

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


Comments about this page

  • Frank was my Grandad, and as kids we were often regaled of stories of his time in the police and the guards. In truth he was a gentle giant, my mum Polly, missed him greatly as I do her now, but it’s lively to read of him as part of Lewes folklore…

    By Alan Brownings (17/11/2018)
  • Francis or Frank Whitewood as we knew him, was my uncle. I was told when he became a police Constable. To learn the “job” he took the Police Book out with him which told you how to deal with ant incident.
    I went to school with his son, Bruce. Our family were very close and frank retired to live in Glynde with Elsie his wife.

    By John Packham retired East Sussex/ Sussex Police (25/06/2018)

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