Dozens of locals, including many retired traffic officers, turned out to wish a fond farewell to the Metropolitan Police’s Historical Vehicle Fleet, which left its Hampton Garage for the final time today (26 February).
A motorcycle escort – headed by a 1956 Triumph Speed Twin and a ’66 650 Basic – appropriately led the way, while the evocative soundtrack was provided by the sirens of a ’48 Wolseley 18/85 – the oldest car taking part.
The convoy also featured a 1970 Morris Minor, an ’83 Rover SD1 and the ex-Special Branch ’73 armoured 3500. The two-tonne P6 (see C&SC, September 2013) sports inch-thick glass and served as a 10 Downing Street protection vehicle until ’87.
The vehicles stopped off at New Scotland Yard en route to their new home at the Met’s Peel Centre, Hendon, passing many famous London landmarks along the way – including The Mall, Parliament Square, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park Corner and Marble Arch.
Those in Hampton reminiscing about their time on the force included Colin Palmer, a traffic officer from 1968-’77, Malcolm Rooke (a sergeant who served from 1970-’98) and former chief inspector Peter Scotchford.
“Easily the best sports car that we had in our day was the MGC,” recalled Palmer. “We’d also had the Daimler Dart, but that was a liability. It was good at going fast but not so clever when you needed to stop in a hurry!”
After the rest of the fleet had gone, though, a Triumph 2.5PI poignantly sat in the corner of the famous old garage, surrounded by an assortment of period signs and traffic paraphernalia.
As Palmer pointed out: “It was meant to have gone today but they only discovered this week that the MoT had run out, so it’ll be driven to Hendon as soon as it has a new ticket.”
The late-model 2.5PI – looking very Sweeney! on its steel wheels and hubcaps – was based at West End Central police station and decommissioned in ’81.
The car was about to be crushed when it was rescued from an Oxfordshire scrapyard, along with two other police cars, and restored. Several owners later, in 2010, it was bought by the Historic Collection.
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