David Charles Wardrop recalls his first night shift as a Hertfordshire Police Officer.
Mr David Wardrop 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.
After he finished his training in the police centre he was posted to the Hertford Police Station and here he describes his first night on duty. He shared with us how he got around in 1970s by walking his beat and emphasised the importance of the telephone switchboard.
The Policeman on duty was a chap called Ted Monk and he showed me how to read-up and, telephone books that he wrote all the messages in and we had the General Occurrence Book where things were recorded and anyway, nobody else turned up, so, I said “Where are all the others?” He said “There aren’t any, only you and I”. So he said “Do you know your way around Hertford?” So I said “No”. So, he said “I’ll draw you a map of the Town”. So he drew me a map of the town. He said, “About half past 10, I want you to go to the call-box in Market Street and, stay there for 5 minutes. If I want you, I’ll ring you”. 11 o’clock he said, “Go to the call-box at old Crossadge ”, showed it on the map he draw “and you stand there for half an hour, stand there for 5 minutes’ …He said “Half past 11 you go back to Market Street and at 12 o’clock come in here and we’ll have a cup of tea”. Make sure that all the shops, front and rear, make sure they’re intact”. So out I marched, having never been in Hertford before, and at 12 o’clock, came in, we had a cup of tea; because you had rationing on them as well. He was going to go out and there was this switchboard there and I said “how do you operate this?” So he showed me how to operate it and, at that time, Hertford was the Divisional Station for Hoddesdon, Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield. That was called “B Division” and Bishop’s Stortford was “A Division’ and, so he showed me how to operate the telephone switchboard, which included the 999 for the Division and he said the most important one you’ve got to answer, he said and he flipped down the thing which painted red and he said that’s the certain house in town he said, “If that comes down, you have to answer it straight away or I shall be in trouble”. So, anyway, he went out then and came back about 2 o’clock and had refreshments and, 6 o’clock, went home.