A Peeler in the Family (West Midlands Police)

My first day, as a probationary constable, in West Midlands police, was, on Monday 2nd September 1974.  I paraded at Tally Ho!  the training centre in Edgbaston, and looked at the next generation of police cadets that had also joined up that day. I thought they looked very young at 16, but then I had to remind myself that I would have looked like that too and at 19 I was not that much older.   I was allocated the number 3278 and told that it had belonged to a policeman who had moved to Canada.  I signed the forms for insurance, wages and an application for a driving licence. I also received a large folder of student notes and realised there was going to be an awful lot of law to learn.  I was sworn in as a constable by a local Magistrate on Wednesday 4th September at police headquarters, Birmingham. The words of the oath were:


“ I do solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will well and truly serve our sovereign lady the Queen in the office of constable, without favour or affection, malice or ill will: and that I will to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and preserved and prevent all offences against the persons and properties of her Majesty’s subjects: and that while I continue to hold the said office I will, to the best of  my skill and knowledge, discharge all the duties thereof faithfully according to law.” 

On the Sunday I met up with other recruits at Tally Ho! including ex-cadets Roger Cox and Peter Reader. We were transported to Ryton-on-Dunsmore, near Coventry, where the first person I saw was Graham Clough, who had joined up the month before. He was on guard duty at the barrier. 


The training centre had been in existence since 1963. Before it had been used by wartime refugees, yet it felt a big unfriendly place. The reception area had wooden panelled walls with pictures of all the instructors.  The one image that caught my eye was of an unsmiling Sergeant Tommy Trickett.  He had more of a military look about him because he was the drill instructor. He was actually a constable in West Midlands police, but was given the rank of sergeant to give him more credibility on the drill square.


Joining the other recruits we mustered in the dining room where we were allocated individual rooms in the living quarters located around the outside edges of the complex.  The classrooms, of a similar design were located near to the main building where the offices of the senior officers were. As well as administration offices it housed a gymnasium, the dining room and a fully functioning bar and other social facilities including a snooker table. The drill square dominated the entrance to the training centre. I sat on the bed with my bags in my room. It might as well be a prison cell as I felt dreadful and could not wait for those horrible feelings to subside. If ever there was a place to deter people from stopping there, then Ryton was the place.  

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