Stories from the book, 'The Police in Lewes.' Part 23

The former No 6 District Training Centre, at Sandgate, Folkestone, Kent.
British Police online Museum
Michael V Dixon
This is Downs Ranger PC Henry Poole, who patrolled from 1929 to 1952, with his horse Princess Patricia.
Sussex Police Archive
Winning team of the inter-divisional first aid competition, 1949 Littlehampton. Back row (from left): - PC Bishop, PC Archie Greenshields, Sergt. Birkin, PC Bill Walls. Front row (from left): - Supt. F Peel, PCNT Taylor, Insp. Hawthornthwaite.

This is almost certainly the most important part of Police work. No one can do their selective jobs without some sort of training both in the class room and of course ‘on the job.’

In the various Police Forces in England and Wales the training didn’t differ very much from Force to Force. There were a number of Training colleges set up in various parts of this country. The Metropolitan Police had their own separate training college where only their recruits attended. They also had another training college at Imber Court for the training of their horses. It is true to say that they trained horses for all the other Forces in Other Police Forces. It was then that should a Police Force want a horse then they bought one from the Metropolitan Police, which of course was already trained.

Training Police Horses – Imber Court (1948)

The policemen went to separate Police Training Colleges from the Women police officers. For instance policemen here in the south attended a training college in Sandgate, Folkestone, Kent.

This college trained policemen from the various police forces in the south including Jersey and Guernsey. Where as the women from the same area attended the Training College for women police at Ryton-on-Dunsmore.

These courses were for a 13 week duration with exams every few weeks. As far as I was concerned, there was a swimming examination too, I had to swim 10 yards. These days it is a lot different, the swimming included lifesaving and rightly so.

Lewes officers

Let us look at the training for the Lewes Officers. At the end of The Second World War the training for the new recruits who had joined the East Sussex Police was undertaken in Brighton. The training School was a little on the primitive side but at least it was police training.

The school was situated in Circus Street, it was the Training Home Guard units as well as the Civil Defence volunteers during the Second World War.

The training Officer in the early days was Chief Inspector Earl from Hove.

Among his training staff was Police Constable Gilbert Garforth who was stationed also at Hove. By the end of the 1940’s he had been moved to Malling House in Lewes. Then Malling House was the embryo of the Force’s Training Wing.

Once the Training had been established in 1947, then the Circus Street Training Centre was closed. This was just prior to the opening of the brand new No.6 District Training Centre at Sandgate in Kent.


After an initial four-week period spent at Force Headquarters, in Lewes, the recruits spent a thirteen week session at Sandgate. On completion of their courses and usually before they left Sandgate they were told where they were being posted to their Force area. After the recruits returned from Sandgate they attended one-day’s training locally each month. This was then followed by a refresher course of a two-week duration at Sandgate. This was after periods of twelve and eighteen months of service. However, this training pattern, was not always strictly adhered to.

Officers who attended the No 6, District Training College at Sandgate in Kent during the 1950’’s would have been made aware of the presence in the High Street of a very well-known petty thief called George Alfred Heist. This man was seen very frequently in Sandgate High Street wearing his tell-tale dirty old ‘mac’ and selling matches and the like from a tray which was hung around his neck. There were other times when he was seen in the long driveway of the police Training College draped front and rear with a sandwich board. Situated on the front of this board were the words ‘All Jews are ******* and then on the back of this board, it was written ‘All bastards are *****. He was invariably arrested by personnel from the Training College for the disclosed offences, whereupon he would change back into police uniform and become Police Sergeant Reginald Kyrke of the East Sussex Constabulary, who was attached to the Training College. The West Street, Lewes confinement always looked forward to his lectures whilst at the training centre as they were interesting as well as funny.

In the 1960’s Chief Constable Reggie Breffit retired from the Police but after that every now and then a letter would appear in the Force newspaper, ‘Patrol’ and signed G. A. Heist. There was no doubt that ‘Reggie Kyrke was most certainly one of the most colourful characters in the East Sussex Constabulary.

First Aid Training.

The First Aid Training that members of The East Sussex Constabulary had to undergo and was invariably supplied by members of the St. John Ambulance Brigade and the regular re-examinations were compulsory. These examinations were carried out by the local G.P. PC 13 Les Smith of Barcombe, was a very keen and efficient First Aider and was often called upon to assist during the training sessions.

However, even Les was not immune from taking these exams, when it was his turn to be re-examined. They were conducted on a one to one basis. During one particular re-examination he had a particular ‘professional difference’ of opinion with the examining doctor. After the examination, the door opened and Les appeared, very red-faced and with him ‘spitting blood’ as they say. He was furious calling back over his shoulder, ‘you’re wrong, you’re wrong.’ On one particular point. These re-examinations were a bit of a farce and no one ever failed them, – well one did!  That was poor ‘Les Smith from Barcombe.’ Poor old Les suffered for months from his jovial colleagues, having his leg pulled on just about every occasion they met him. This made it harder for him to take. It is true to say that on the point of dispute, it later transpired that Les was more up to date with his First Aid than the doctor on this occasion.. The rib tickling of poor old Les finally died down and everything changed back to normal again.

Written on 5th December 2015 by David Rowland

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