Peter Sizeland as a young Police cadet
Mr Peter Sizeland was interviewed by Mrs Carolyn Downing on behalf of the Bishop’s Stortford Museum's and HALS Oral History Project ‘On the Beat’.
Transcription by Ms Margaret Ballard
C.D.: Whilst you were at Stortford as a Cadet, what sort of things were you doing?
P.S.: Well, it was a completely new thing and I was first of all in the office, in the general office and, I mean, my main function was to answer the telephone switchboard or to mend the telephone switchboard and, at that time, there were no such thing as teleprinters or things like they came in much later and we used to have a system of telephone messages, which were written in longhand. In those days, if there was a major theft or something like that, it was circulated via these telephone messages and you had to laboriously write it all down and pass it on to the Station Officer. The worst type of message of all was the, the foot-and-mouth warnings; we had to write down countless names of places where this foot-and-mouth was confirmed and write it all down and that had to be recorded and, I can’t remember exactly what happened, but it was some connection with the local market at that time, so didn’t like those messages because there were so laborious, you know, so much writing to do. They were all Stations’ messages and surrounding Forces which were major crime messages.
C.D.: Right so there was obviously a difference, whether it was local or whether it was surrounded.
P.S.: Surrounding Forces mean like Bedfordshire and Essex and what-have-you.
C.D.: So that was for something more serious?
C: So how long were you on the switchboard?
P.S.: Well, only, really, ‘cos we did have a female switchboard operator but it was only part-time and I filled in when she wasn’t there.
C.D.: Okay, what else did you do?
P.S.: One of the things they gave me to do was, in those days, people who were going on holiday used to notify the Police Station if they were going on holiday and leave the address where they were going and one of my jobs was to go round in the Summertime and visit these unoccupied houses, as they were called. It was quite interesting to do that because; they usually left a message “Help yourself to grapes from the greenhouse”. So it was quite nice in the summer to do that.
It was the very severe Winter in 1947 when there was a lot of snow and, one of my jobs at that time was to clear the snow away from the front of the Police Station.
C.D.: Was that the one in Church Street or the one on the corner of Basbow Lane?
P.S.: On the corner of Basbow Lane, as it is now. I remember, when we were clearing the snow away, the Inspector, a fellow called Charles Warren, always left his bike outside the main entrance to the Police Station and, the cleaner and I had the job of clearing the snow away and we shovelled all the snow all over his bike! That was all very well as a joke, but it was our misfortune that his wife came along and saw us doing this and we got into trouble from her; he laughed it off, but she made quite a ‘song-and-dance’ about it, yeah.
C.D.: Right, anything else you did as a Cadet?
P.S.: When wireless cars first came in, during that time, I was the observer in the wireless car… We’ll record ‘lost and found’ property, of course; people came to record ‘lost and found’. Did that… Used to play cricket on the roof. We’d got a roof on the Police Station and then of course I was called up to National Service and that was it then.