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Exeter folk and friends in their own words - 1890's to the 1990's │ << Previous story │ Next story >> │

Policing on a Sunday during the 1950s
by Peter Hinchliffe

I started in the Exeter City Police in 1958, I always hated having to work on a Sunday, it was so boring.
On Sundays all the shops were closed, they used to sell Sunday Newspapers in a few shop doorways in the High Street, but only until mid-morning.

The buses started to run about 2p.m. and stopped early at about 10. If you went to the pub you had to get the timing right, when they opened from 12 to 2 p.m. for lunch, and from 7p.m. to 10 p.m. in the evening.

They held a referendum in the mid 50s, to see if people wanted the cinemas to open on Sundays. The "yes" vote meant they showed films that had already been on general release, they had one showing of the main feature and closed again mid-evening.

Padlocking the swings, no fun

BUT the most important feature of Sunday was that the City Council would not allow children to use the equipment like swings, which was fitted in the parks.

I suppose the City fathers did not want toddlers to corrupt themselves by enjoying a ride on a swing, or the thrill of a trip down a slide, on a Sunday.

So every Saturday at dusk, a park keeper would cycle around the city padlocking the swings together, and securing any other equipment they could.

One of the better playgrounds was in Heavitree and the occupants of one house overlooking the park, were regular users of the 999 system, alerting the force that parents were actually assisting their children to use the see saw.

I like to think that I may have saved some child from a life of crime and debauchery, by insisting that they stopped enjoying themselves immediately.
Some say "those were the days"

Peter Hinchliffe is a retired police officer.

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