Thursday, January 17, 2013
Jonathan Nicholls served as a sergeant at Hampstead from 1973 until his retirement in 1995. He now lives in Hertfordshire and is an author and musician. He recalls the good old days when the Victorian station was fully functioning and reflects on its closure.
I have just heard with disbelief and some sorrow that my “Happy Hampstead” nick which stands like a sentinel guardian in Rosslyn Hill will soon cease to be an operational police station and the front counter will close.
I joined the Met in 1968 and, after serving at Paddington for five years, was posted to “Happy Hampstead” in 1973 on promotion to the rank of sergeant.
I was told by one old sergeant: “You will love it here and won’t want to go anywhere else.”
How right he was. I soon grew very fond of Hampstead and its colourful community of writers, artists and actors. I stayed for the rest of my service and have some wonderful memories.
Life was busy at “E” Division Hampstead and we were the mother station to West Hampstead, situated in Fortune Green Road.
In spite of its location in a relatively peaceful plot of north London, Hampstead was a busy nick, manned by professional cops who genuinely cared for the community.
Among the many wonderful characters I met while working as a station sergeant at Hampstead was former Labour leader Michael Foot, who would lose Dizzy (his scruffy companion of a dog) when taking a morning jaunt up Rosslyn Hill. Sunday was always “Dog Day” at Hampstead when everyone seemed to lose their dogs on the Heath.
Where will they report their missing mutt now? How can there not be an active nick in Rosslyn Hill?
The police station is a necessary centre of the community.
I now live in Hertfordshire but often come up to Hampstead to meet old colleagues in one of the local hostelries and I am still addressed as sergeant by several locals who have not realised I retired 17 years ago. Hampstead needs a nick!