Stansteads First Panda Car

By John Weeks

Although Alan Richardson may have been a village bobby at Stanstead Abbotts for about six months before me, my claim to fame is that I was the last police constable posted specifically to Stanstead Abbotts in July 1966.  Others may have lived in the police house at 101 Cappell Lane after we moved to Somerset in December 1970 but the officer(s) concerned would have been posted to "Ware Rural" and not just the Stanstead beat, which covered the twin villages and Great Amwell, although we did cover the rest of the Ware Rural area when other officers were not working.  We patrolled our areas on a 200cc Velocette motorcycle, or "Noddy bike" as they were always known.

    Ware Rural, which comprised the two of us at Stanstead plus the officers at Hunsdon and Wadesmill (later High Cross when a new house was built) came into being on 10th June 1968 when our noddys were retired and we were allocated a brand new pale blue Vauxhall Viva HB saloon, DNK 837F.  The only concessions to police work were that the car had reflective POLICE signs at front and rear, a single blue light on the roof and a POLICE STOP sign which could be illuminated in the rear window.  Other than a radio the only interior equipment consisted of two folding metal POLICE ACCIDENT and POLICE SLOW signs and about four traffic cones.  We gradually scrounged extra signs and cones as well as having a pickaxe handle, painted white, which was kept in the boot "just in case", although I don't recall it being needed.  A touch-up pen was also useful to cover up the inevitable stone chips.  That car was driven 24 hours a day and, despite a period when patrols were limited to 35 miles per shift, it covered more than 80,000 miles in 18 months.  The car was invariably spotless as, operations permitting, it was washed at the end of each shift so your relief started with a clean car.  The interior was regularly cleaned and the bodywork polished.  That doesn't seem to happen these days.

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