Recent stories in The News about the poor condition of Portsmouth’s police stations prompted Gladys Howard to look back on her 30 years in the service in the city.
She joined the old Portsmouth Police Force in 1947 when the women’s auxiliary service, which had served during the war, was disbanded.
She recalls there were four divisions: A, C, C&D and headquarters.
Gladys, of Langstone Road, Milton, Portsmouth, says: ‘My first posting was to A division, central police station in St Michael’s Road, in the old vicarage next to the derelict St Michael’s Church. I was allocated an empty back bedroom and the CID were in the front room upstairs.
‘The room was empty except for a small table and a kitchen chair. The floor was bare floorboards. In this I was expected to take my meal break when not on patrol. I was occasionally accompanied by a little mouse. I was not allowed to use the men’s recreation room which was downstairs.’
B Division was based at Fratton police station in Fratton Road, near St Mary’s Church and to get inside you had to go down an alley next to a pub.
Gladys adds: ‘The station was in an empty house and in it were cells in which prisoners were kept prior to going to court. There was also a room for police matrons which I could use if necessary.
Southsea police station, C Division, was on the corner of Albert Road above a small public library with CID in a private house in Waverley Road. ‘This was a pokey building which had a prison cell which in my opinion was disgusting, similar to the Black Hole of Calcutta,’ says Gladys.
D Division was based at Cosham in another private house, a small one in Albert Road off High Street.
And headquarters was in a large house in Queen’s Crescent, Southsea, which Gladys says was originally home to the Brickwood brewing family and later a private school.
She adds: ‘It was a very large spacious and convenient house. In it were the offices of the chief constable and his administration offices of the whole force. It also housed the traffic department and cars.
‘Despite the difficulties of all the old accommodation, they were very happy days.
‘During my 30 years’ service, three big new buildings were built and one acquired from the transport department – a great improvement for all concerned.’