In 1958, I joined Hertfordshire Constabulary as a Police Cadet stationed at Watford. For part of my time there I was attached to the Traffic Office in the corner of the yard and sometimes found myself washing patrol cars. In the days when almost all police cars were black, there was a unique Area Car at Watford – unique because it was an MG when Wolseleys and Austins were flavour of the day, and unique because it was not black, but Twilight Grey.
One day, Pc 128 Cyril Hoye offered to take me out on patrol in this car and I was quite taken with it. I understood that the force might have acquired the car through the influence of John Gott, who was a Chief Superintendent at HQ and also a racing driver for BMC – the British Motor Corporation, who, among other brands, made MG cars.
In later life I developed a keen interest in the history of Hertfordshire police vehicles and tried to find a photo of that MG without success. In the back of my mind, the registration number was 585 CRO – an ironic number for a police car, as CRO stood for Criminal Record Office.
Turn the clock forward 60 years to 2018 and I received an email out of the blue from an old colleague, Robin Bracey. He was in touch with the now late Cyril Hoye’s daughter and she had found some old police car photos amongst his possessions. She wondered if they were of any interest to anybody and Robin immediately thought of me. He put me in touch with Cyril’s daughter, Jenny.
I later received several photos and one of them was Cyril Hoye standing by the MG Area Car and it showed the registration number – 585 CRO. I had remembered it correctly all those years!