The Police Driving School

“When I went back on the traffic as a sergeant, the chief got a bit uptight about the cost of training drivers. We were sending them away to Stafford and Lancashire, the charges were outrageous. So the chief struck me off as a sergeant, and I started the police driving school. I did it on my own with the cars or bikes, whichever were needed. I had to do a paper exercise on the cost. We were going to save a lot of money on training.”

Police vehicles lined up in Red Lion Street Yard in 1948. Left to Right:

Pc  L. Phillips,
Sgt  P. D. Peterson,
Pc  T. Thomas,
Pc  C. Clutton.

The vehicles were a Wolsley 18hp., an MG (T.C.), a Vauxhall 25hp., and a Norton 500cc motorcycle with girder forks.

Courtesy of Joe Davies.

Joe had a brilliant idea to save money on transport costs. Youngsters who attended the juvenile court and were remanded in custody had to be taken to one of the remand homes, which were some distance away. There was always a spare seat in the car during a driving lesson, so the youngsters could be taken to one of the homes during a lesson, and the driver could gain a lot of experience at the same time. This is what Joe had to say about it:

“When the kids were being remanded, they were never remanded locally, all the remand homes were some miles away. There was one at Welland in Worcestershire, and a regular one at Barry in South Wales. When we came on at 2 o’clock we only had two trainees in the car, there was always a spare seat. They used to send a policeman with a car, and an escort to Barry, but I realised that this could be done with the school car. The court always finished at lunchtime, and the kids were then ready to go to remand homes or approved school. We used to load them in the back, where there two spare seats and take them. Mr. Goodchild thought it was marvellous, it was another lever to keep the driving school going.

Our driving school upset the chief constable at Stafford when we pulled out of their school, but Mr. Goodchild stood his ground. I shall never forget one day when we were going to Barry with a juvenile. It was a long way, there were no motorways, so it was ideal for training someone in advance driving. We got into Newport about tea time, and were stopped by the local police. After being asked if we were from Wolverhampton and on our way to Barry, we were asked to go into the local police station for a cup of tea, because they had some bad news. We were told that a mistake had been made with the warrant, and the youngster had to go to Manchester instead. We then had to go all up the A49 to Manchester to drop him off. We didn’t get back to Wolverhampton until the early hours. That’s the sort of thing we did. We never got paid for the extra hours, but took time off instead.

The Barry run was regular. During the run we used to go down to Hereford, where one day I was conscious of a posh car, a Rolls Royce I think, which was following us. We pulled up at the traffic lights in Newport, and the driver dashed out of the car and said “I want have a chat with you lads about driving. Would you like to come and have a cup of tea with me?” He was quite a toff in his Rolls Royce, we followed him half way to Cardiff and the St. Mellons turning. It was at the St. Mellons Golf Club.

He said “I travel from Manchester to Cardiff each week. That journey we had today not only kept me out of trouble, it kept my speed limit right. I thoroughly enjoyed watching every move you did. I’ve learned a lot from that journey today, come and have a cup of tea in the golf club. If ever you’re down here again, always come into the golf club and have a cup of tea.”  We then had to go on to Barry, and always got back at all sorts of hours, but nobody bothered, no fuss, it was terrific.”

Red Lion Street Yard as it is today.

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