Dunstable police on parade
Dunstable police on parade

Heels together, shoulders back….this was the scene at the regular inspection of our local police force in 1957.

The men of D Division of the Beds Constabulary were on parade at the rear of their police station in High Street South, Dunstable, with the area’s police chief, Supt Horace Woods, at the rear of the inspecting trio.

In those days police uniforms had no mobile phones attached or heavy belts laden with equipment.

Policemen’s truncheons and handcuffs were discreetly hidden under their tunics.

Dunstable police had been based at the station on the corner of Friars Walk since 1930, when they moved from their previous station in Icknield Street.

That building is still there, opposite today’s Salvation Army headquarters, and is now a private home.

Wording still visible on its frontage are reminders of Dunstable’s successful bid for borough status in 1864 and its consequent responsibility to provide the town with a police force.

This it did in 1865, with the employment of a police superintendent and one constable, and their first police station was opened in 1867.

The second police station, entered through an archway facing the high street with its reception desk on the left, became an office named Petropolis House for the Total Oil company in the mid 1970s after a new police station was built in West Street.

Today Petropolis House is empty and up for sale. Our colour photo, taken last week, shows that the building is substantially unaltered from the days when it was the headline-making hub of many criminal investigations.

> Yesteryear is compiled by John Buckledee, chairman of Dunstable and District Local History Society.