Police headquarters weren’t always so grand

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From: Keith Sturdy, Grimbald Road, Knaresborough.

THE recent announcement that North Yorkshire Police is to move from its headquarters in Newby Wiske to a purpose-built HQ near Thirsk got me thinking of two incidents in the past when things were not always so grand.

After the last great police reorganisation in 1974, I was posted to the Harrogate Police Division which until that time had been in the West Riding and was still staffed mainly by their former officers, some of which did not take kindly to the new set up.

North Yorkshire Police’s HQ at that time was an old, inadequate building on the outskirts of Northallerton built for the old, smaller North Riding force. One of the older Pcs who had been at my station for donkeys’ years had red hair and a rounded appearance and was called Great Uncle Bulgaria after the Wombles character.

I had been missing one morning and ‘Great Uncle’ came up to me on my return and asked where I had been. I proudly told him I had been up to headquarters. He said to me: “Headquarters? What do you mean, that row of whitewashed cottages down Racecourse Lane? You don’t call that a headquarters, do you, lad?”

During the miners’ strike in 1984, North Yorkshire was again the poor relation. West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside etc had fancy coaches, equipment vans and the latter even had mobile canteens. No such luxuries for us. We did have blue personnel carriers which each had attached to them a white trailer for our equipment.

We pulled up in one of these at Orgreave one morning alongside a Merseyside van. I got out without saying anything, and someone with a Scouse accent shouted across to me “See you’ve brought your headquarters with you mate” pointing to our white trailer. Happy times.