Battersea Police Station: An Invitation to the last Open Day
Sadly, Battersea Police Station closes its doors for the last time on Sunday the 22nd September. This day will be marked by a Station Open Day, with many diverse Met units including our Mounted & Dogs sections, TSG, Homicide Detectives with a Crime scene to investigate, our Gangs Task Force along with Trident SC08, Forensic specialists, Officer safety and Taser equipment trainers, displays by The MPS Heritage Museum, old uniforms & historic vehicles, Cadets, Specials constabulary & MPS Volunteers, the Wildlife Crime Unit & specialist staff from the Computer Aided Modelling Bureau. Safer Schools, Parks & Transport Officers as well Neighbourhood officers & partner organisations from across the Borough (LFB and WW Borough Council) will be in attendance to offer crime prevention advice (Bike & phone marking). There will be custody tours, fingerprinting for the kids and Chelsea Football Club coaches will be there to entertain our younger visitors. Battersea Dogs & Cats home will be offering free micro chipping to any dogs brought along on the day.
A Brief History:
The current Battersea Police Station at 112–118 Battersea Bridge Road was the second Station built on that site, the 1st was built in 1858 to designs presented by Charles Reeves, the police surveyor, to the Wandsworth District Board in 1859. Opened in January 1861, it was a compact, stock-brick building of two storeys over a basement, embellished only by the incised word POLICE over the round-headed door. Unmarried constables occupied a section house on the first floor, four per bedroom. The offices were on the raised ground floor over the mess-room and kitchen below. The station’s importance grew along with the local population. By 1864 its strength was four sergeants and 20 constables. In 1867 stables were added behind. The following year Battersea became a full sub-division, with two inspectors. The building suffered from the perennial north Battersea problem of flooded basements, which affected the men’s health. In the 1890s the Receiver of Police suggested moving the mess-room to the first floor, or rebuilding the stables. Superintendent David Saines ruled out the latter, as he thought mounted Police essential in Battersea ‘which is a troublesome Borough from a Police point of view’. The flooding got worse, bringing with it in June 1907 two feet of sewage. That year the freehold site of 112––116 Bridge Road adjoining was bought. A Home Office memorandum of 1908 reported: ‘This station is not a credit to the force … the single men cannot be considered to be raised above the level of their surroundings which are decidedly low’. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police therefore overruled the Receiver, recommending that a ‘Station of the First Class (Large Town)’ should be erected.
In 1910 Dixon Butler produced his design for the new station, which was duly built by J. G. Minter and taken into service in November 1911. The main station is a sober red-brick building of two storeys over a basement, surmounted by a mansarded attic storey with dormers, offset from the paired windows below. A shallow canted bay at the south end of the frontage dignifies the former Inspector’s room but sits uncomfortably beneath the deep eaves cornice. As first planned, the public areas were at the south end, which was staggered back along Hyde Road, while the entrance adjoined the Inspector’s bay. Behind were the charge, detention and matron’s rooms, and seven cells—two singles for women and four singles and one ‘association’ or group cell for men. The northern part, entered from the rear yard, housed the facilities for the officers and men. Beneath the cells was a parade room and on the north side of the yard a three-stall stable. In execution, a proposed ambulance garage in the yard was replaced first by a temporary prefabricated iron office for the Public Carriage Office licensing branch, and then by a permanent building for testing taxicabs The station survived largely unaltered until 1983 when extra land was acquired to the rear and an extension built, bringing the cell block to the same height as the main building and finishing it with a roof and cornice in the same style. The principal entrance was moved to the south end, the former entrance blocked in, the staircase removed and a wing added at the north end on the site of the stable block.
If you were interested in visiting Battersea Police Station at the weekend then you might be interested in the information below about the open day and history of the station itself. Credit for the text to Inspector James Ellis and the Met’s Heritage Centre.