Sergeant Sidney T.R. Whitcombe

Police Constables 417 Sidney Whitcombe and 281 Cyril Charles Paget at Tewkesbury Fair 1936. (Gloucestershire Police Archives URN 2121)

When I joined the Gloucestershire Constabulary on Monday September 7th 1931 Headquarters were at Holland house, a town mansion standing in its own grounds in Lansdown Road Cheltenham.

The Chief Constable, Major F.L. Stanley Clarke and the Deputy Chief Constable Superintendent Joseph Goulder lived in flats in the main building. In the basement were the kitchen and dining room used by the recruits and the remainder of the building was used by the administrative staff who were supervised by Superintendent Arthur Sainsbury. The staff consisted of Sergeant Albert Carter later Assistant Chief Constable, 4 constables, 2 lady civilians and 1 cadet. There were also the 2 orderlies of the Chief and Deputy Chief Constable.

Headquarters Criminal Investigation Department was Detective Inspector Jimmy Green and the training branch was Sergeant A Hancock later Detective Chief Superintendent. There were neither traffic nor Communications departments nor any police motor vehicles attached to Headquarters.

The hours of duty of the staff were 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays only. Headquarters were closed for the remainder of each day and all day on Sunday.

The training department occupied buildings about 60 yards to the rear of the main building and abutted onto a lane at the side of the premises. On the outside of the double doors leading from the lane into the buildings was a notice “females not allowed past these doors.” In a two storey brick building were 16 cubicles each containing a bed and chair but no floor covering, curtains or other furniture. The ablutions block and the main lecture room an old army hut led off a passage at the end of the cubicle block.

Sergeant Hancock lived in a house adjoining these buildings.

Of our class of 12 recruits only 7 reached retirement and 2 have since died. Those left are Jim Burchill, Reg Hale, Fred Jennings, Wally Horton and myself. The uniform numbers issued reached only 416 so four new numbers 417, 418, 419 and 420 were issued to cover the remainder of our class. Uniform was issued by date and not requirement and included knickerbockers and leather leggings for winter wear.

Our first task was to scrub out our quarters which had not been occupied for 10 months. We employed and paid a cook 25 shillings each per week who supplied us with three meals a day Monday to Friday and 2 meals on Saturday.

Monday to Friday we did physical training, jujitsu and first aid and we received lectures on Law and police procedure. Our text book was “the Police Code”. Saturday morning we scrubbed out our quarters.

We attended Cheltenham petty sessions and did duty at Gloucester Quarter Sessions and Assizes, Cheltenham races and General Election duty at Gloucester Guildhall.

Our pay was £3/10/0d per week rising in 10 years to £4/10/0d plus 1/- weekly boot allowance. Three weeks after joining, owing to the National Crisis our pay was cut by 10% and superannuation contributions were doubled to 5%. New recruits had a lower rate of pay which took 12 years to reach the £4/10/0 level. (I cannot see this being accepted today.)

At the end of three months training and having passed our examinations we were dispersed to our allotted station. Those of us travelling to Gloucester did so in a canvas topped lorry seated on our uniform boxes and were taken onto Stroud in the one and only police car.

On December 1st 1931 the headquarters of D Division which stretched from Sharpness to Bisley was at Stroud.

Superintendent Welshman was in charge. There was also Inspector Pugh, Patrol Sergeant Dowdeswell and 12 constables including one at Summer Street Station. The divisional and general office staff was Sergeant Moulding and Constable Ben Crouch. The Criminal Investigation Department was Detective Constable Victor Tuffley and the motor patrol section covering the whole of the division was one motor car driven by Constable Leonard Levall and a solo motor cycle ridden by Constable Morton Fluck. There was also Woman Police Constable Bennett. The patrol constables included William (Banger) Yates a real old timer.

There were three of us single men living in the station George Payne, Stanley Long (who joined with me) and myself. We made our own meals at the station except at midday when a cooked dinner costing 1/- could be obtained at a café in Gloucester Street.

The station building was an awful place to work with steps and stairs everywhere and was very dark in which to work. No patrol constable was allowed to use the front entrance but was relegated to using the side door.

Point duty was done at the Town Time cross roads and the first constable on duty each day at 9 am carried up a mat to stand on. The constable on 4p.m. to Midnight duty patrolled on foot to Slad village and returned via Stream’s Pitch to the top of the town and back to the station at 8 p.m. the sergeant checked this kind of patrol without making “a meet” on the beat by issuing the constable with a check ticket to be left at the farthest point of the beat. The sergeant later collected these tickets and checked them with the duplicate that he retained.

I left Stroud for a Refresher course at Headquarters after which I was transferred to Cheltenham Central Station on May 13th 1932.

This page was added on 07/06/2017.

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