On completion of leave, I went to Durham police headquarters and was issued with another uniform and was told to report to Plawsworth, No 2 District Police Training Centre. I was joined by thirty or so other mostly ex servicemen, who were members of the various other Forces in the No 2 District.













Plawsworth. H.E. Back Row 6th from the right

We were then put through three months of intensive training in police procedures, law and court work etc, with an exam at the end of each month. I did manage, in the final exam, a result of 97%, which was the highest there had been up to that time.

My posting for duty after that was to Jarrow-on-Tyne, famous for St Bede and Ellen Wilkinson of the Jarrow Marches in 1936. Jarrow was a depressed area in 1946 as most of what was once a very active shipbuilding area was now derelict.

As a probationer constable we had to do two years, during which time there were fortnightly papers to be submitted in English and Maths.

There had been two training areas in the Durham police force, prior to the advent of district training establishments after the war. One was in Durham City and the other was in Jarrow. It was noticeable, on walking down the street to Jarrow town centre and turning the corner to the main thoroughfare, all the men leaning against the wall suddenly stopped. Then, like a line of guardsman, they moved to the pavement’s edge. Apparently my predecessors would have given them a summons for obstructing the pavement to those who did not.

I was detailed to deal with a complaint letter about a noisy dog. In those days, dog licenses were issued and this owner did not have one. On being told he would be reported he said ‘Could you put the owner down as my wife, otherwise I will lose a day’s work when I have to go to court’. The summons duly issued to his wife. However on court day, the man was off sick and so attended the court himself. He said to the court, ‘I am the owner of the dog’. Because of this fact - case dismissed. The lesson I learnt was to be fair, but also to be correct.

Night shifts were boring, checking on property doors, occasionally shocked to find one open and call out the key holder. We reported for duty, produced our appointments [handcuffs and truncheon] and had were told of any special activities in the area, then we marched out to our respective beats. Our ‘points’ ( meeting locations) were at a special telephone kiosk at certain times where we could be contacted [no radios] or the sergeant would arrive and we said ‘all correct, Sergeant.’

The fields known as Jarrow Slakes were used by Mallon’s ponies in the winter, having been giving pony rides in the local sands at South Shields during the summer. They were tethered by chains, but frequently escaped to come wandering down the main street. One policeman in our group, familiar with horses, used to get on and ride them up and down the street making a tremendous clatter, before returning them to their tethered area.

One of the beats took you down to the River Tyne where the A.B. Gowan was moored. This was the ferry used by those members of the public who wanted to cross to Walsend on the north side. It was always a warm place to hole up on a cold night and occasionally, to let people know they were being looked after, we would pull the hooter rope!

I was posted to duty there when Mr Marples, Transport Minister at the time, cut the first sod to institute the pedestrian tunnel under the Tyne, prior to the major traffic tunnel to come along later. One of the other beats covered was what was known as the Ben Lomond Corner, the site of a large pub. At lunchtime it had to be covered as point duty when one of the shipworks turned out and a lot of men were coming off shift. I was doing this one day, when I was approached by two women in a distressed state. They had not been able to rouse their elderly father in an upstairs flat nearby. As the traffic eased off, I went with them up the outside steps to the door, but was unable to get any reply. They asked me to break in, and a well-placed boot on the fragile lock resulted in the door flying open. We were confronted with an old, terrified face, sitting up in bed with a blanket pulled up to his chin, wondering what was happening! I quietly disappeared around the corner.

The Division had no rugby activity and football was ‘not my bag’ as they say. But, they did have a reputation for tug of war. I was press ganged into the team and we donned our boots with their steel plated heels and won the trophy at the Divisional sports. The arms were quite numb for some time afterwards!













Jarrow Tug-of-War Team 1946