Stories from the book, 'The Police in Lewes.' Part 24
Like all things, there is an end product to things and sadly Lewes Police Station has its ending too.
1984. This is a milestone in the history of the Police Station, whereby it can celebrate its centenary, just 100 years that it had been in existence.
All sorts of ideas were floated round and finally it was decided that it would be celebrated by having an open Day and a short production of a booklet would be made. This would be in the capable hands of Chief Inspector Paul Hooker. He recalled spending many happy hours working there. He was the organiser and called on a number of other people in the organisation of the ‘big day.’
At this time the Superintendent was ‘Roger Dice, a very affable type of person and if anyone was capable of getting something ‘off with a swing’ it was Roger, he was someone who. If he was involved then there was a 99% chance it was a success. Everyone, who was anyone was invited to attend. And almost everyone turned up too. It was a rip-roaring success.
Meanwhile, in an article published in the ‘Sussex Express on the 14th September 1984 stated; ‘More than 1,500 people were held at Lewes Police Station on Sunday; but it wasn’t an occasion for mass arrests. The large crowds were there to inspect the Police Station on its 100th birthday. The Police dressed for the occasion, some in old fashioned uniforms from yesteryear, Tours of the police station were given to the visitors. There were lifelike prisoners and guards in the cell block area. In one cell was a woman on the eve of her execution while the adjacent cell held a Luftwaffe prisoner. There was a good display which showed weapons that had been used by the various offenders throughout the ages. There was also another display showing a variety of truncheons that had been used by police officers to defend themselves. A collection of firearms gave the public a chance to see for themselves the potential firepower of the villains over the past 100 years.
latest detection techniques
There was yet another display whereby the police showed off their tradional and latest detection techniques with their crime prevention, and on another stand were shown the latest road safety techniques, another display showed off the assistance afforded by the Specials, which were always a great assistance to the regular police officers. In the corner of the room was a large sign which was devoted to the recruitment of potential police officers, male and female. Both sexes were wanted and were very important to the police service. Outside in the police yard was a ‘Panda Car’ and the children were allowed to sit in it and even allowed to use the Police Radio. There was a police van with items from the Police Diving Unit. Of course there was the old favourites such as the Police horses and dogs. The children were allowed to stroke the dogs and pat the horses. The children and the animals were having a whale of a time. The opening of the Police Station was a real eye opener and everyone made the most of a wonderful day.
The Chief Constable, Roger Birch later said in a statement,
‘Although the passage of time has necessitated many internal alterations, the public face of the building in West Street remains virtually unaltered. While Sussex has many new police stations there remain those like he Lewes police Station which have been in continual use since the early days of policing. They serve to remind us all of the heritage and certainly of the proud traditions of the BritishPolice.’
Today the Police Station at Lewes is HQ for the policing of as far north as Newick and south to Peacehaven, Newhaven and Newhaven and Seaford.
For the occasion the police produced special pamphlet with the complete history of the Police Station complete with photographs of scenes from the past as well as the present. The cost of this pamphlet was just 20 pence. All the proceeds from the sale of the book went to the Lewes Victoria Hospital.
The Evening Argus also produced a snippet about the Celebration. It was headed ‘Tall Story.’ It said,
’One tradional sign of middle age is the belief that policemen are getting younger. True or not, it looks as if over the years they have become taller and fatter. The Officers of Lewes Police Station found some old time uniforms and wanted to use them in a centenary celebration – only to discover that they could not find any policemen small enough to fit into these uniforms. So, here ends another myth. Wherever did they get that idea of the fat and jovial, laughing policemen from our youth?
Perhaps from their own PR David Editor