Tring's second police station (1866-1914)

Vestry Hall, Church Lane.

By ANDY WISEMAN

Having previously been based at the town’s Market house, the officers and functions of Tring police station moved into fresh accommodation, within the ground floor of a new Civil Amenities building on Church Lane, in 1866. Amongst its various functions, the building also housed the town’s horse-drawn fire engine. It is likely that the aspect of the building afforded to the police was very small as in 1884, the entire policing of Tring and its surrounding villages was being undertaken by just one permanent Constable.

It can be reasonably assumed that the police station was equipped with some form of kennel, as on 8th February 1896 PC Fay of Tring seized a dog belonging to Thomas Price. Price was charged with failing to keep the animal muzzled, in accordance with regulations pertaining to rabies and was fined 6 shillings. The dog itself was incarcerated at the police station for two days. Unfortunately, it would appear that whatever facility was employed to secure dogs was far from adequate. On New Year’s Eve 1894, PC Fleming cornered a lost German Boarhound in a local front garden and walked it back to the police station. The dog subsequently escaped and roamed around the town for several days.

On Thursday 5th August 1897, PCs Waller, Hull and Sullivan set off from the police station with instructions to patrol the Tring fair. In an early example of undercover policing, Sullivan had been authorised to wear plain-clothes. Before long PC Waller noticed the furtive movements of a man named John Edwards. Suspecting he might be a pickpocket, Waller and his colleagues detained Edwards and conveyed him back to the police station for a search. Upon doing so, Sullivan found an unusually large amount of money in Edwards’ pockets. Meanwhile back at the fair, several bystanders had discovered that they were missing cash. The matter was duly reported to Superintendent Frogley at Hemel Hempstead and Edwards was charged with larceny. He subsequently pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two months hard labour.

By the 1900’s at least, the police station was equipped with a telephone. In 1908, the officer in charge of the station was Sergeant Baldock, who in turn was supervised by Inspector Peck, based at Berkhamsted. On 1st June that year, Sergeant Baldock received a ‘telegraphic call’ from the station master at Tring railway station, reporting a train crash. Baldock immediately cycled to the station, roughly a mile out of town and discovered a trail of destruction. Twenty-seven coal trucks had been sent into the wrong siding and had slammed into a stationary goods train. A 17-year-old labourer from Akeman Street, Tring was killed and another man was badly injured. Tragically, in the same month, Sergeant Baldock was required to investigate another death; this time of former Tring policeman, E. A. Church. The subsequent inquest was held above the police station in Vestry Hall and returned a verdict of suicide.

By the turn of the century, the police station within Vestry Hall was considered inadequate and new premises were built on the High Street. The building still stands and is the only one to have survived from Church Lane. The remainder of the street was demolished, along with two others named Stratton Place and Westwood Lane, to make way for a shopping precinct named Dolphin Square. Despite being converted into private apartments, Vestry Hall has retained much of its Victorian veneer.

This page was added on 06/11/2014.

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