Stories from the book, 'The Police in Lewes.' Part 15

Lewes Bonfire Night South Street fireworks display
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These stories have been extracted from a very nice little book called ‘The Police in Lewes.’ It covers the period from the late 1940’s through to the 1970’s. It has been written well and makes for a very easy read, being able to pick it up for just a few minutes and not lose the gist of the dozen of very interesting stories. It has been compiled by Peter Stoner.

On the 5th of November during the 1950’s a team of enterprising burglars took full advantage of the firework celebrations, the town was full to bursting point on this evening while the Police had their hands full with the amount of people circulating within the town area. Of course with the celebrations in full swing, with coloured lights and a considerable number of firework explosions it was a very noisy place to be. The huge crowd was behaving themselves and in high spirits but were well behaved. These burglars broke into the Sussex Radio and cycle shop in Cliffe High Street. This was followed by a break-in at the local post office where this team blew up the post office safe which was situated at the rear of the shop. With all the firework noise going on outside it is true to say that no one actually heard that explosion. Even had they it would probably not associated the noise from the safe other than a just another firework going off.

One of this group, although a young tearaway who really wasn’t a villain in the true sense of the word, but merely seemed to have found himself on the wrong side of the law. His name was ‘George’ and always seemed to find himself in the wrong place at the right time and involved in some way but in a minor role.

‘I will recue the dog’

The patrolling Cliffe beat officer had his attention drawn to the crowd looking over the bridge and into the river. Believing it must be something of interest he crossed the road to take a look. In the water was a small dog who obviously not very comfortable at being in the water. The crowd was mumbling amongst themselves saying words to the effect that ‘something ought to be done for this little dog. At that time the officer was thinking about the dog getting out. There was a space for the dog to get out about 20 yards either side of where the dog currently was. He thought there was no problem the dog would soon get out on his own. All of a sudden and for no apparent reason the crowd suddenly parted and ‘George shouting out, ‘I will recue the dog.’ He removed his shoes and socks and waded waist deep across to where the dog was and scooped it out of the water. The dog was very relieved to be out of the water and quickly ran off after Georgie put him down onto the ground. Georgie had winced a couple of times and when he looked down at his feet, he saw they were badly cut and bleeding profusely. The site where Georgie had entered the water was close to where ‘Beard’s Brewery’ was situated. The area around this point was strewn with broken glass but being in the water they just weren’t visible, they had probably laid on the river bed for a good few years. George was taken to to the Lewes Victoria hospital by a police patrol car where his feet was treated and also received an ‘anti- tetanus’ jab for good measure.

This is the first time it has been made ‘public.’   

Written and researched by David Rowland. (October 2015.)

With grateful thanks to the officers at Lewes Police Station. The stories have been taken from the book, ‘The Police in Lewes’                                                                                                                                                                   

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