A village bobby’s memories of Briggens in the 1960’s
Between July 1966 and December 1970 I was, initially, the village bobby at Stanstead Abbotts before becoming part of the Ware Rural team with the introduction of panda cars. Briggens was a part of my beat and I would frequently drive through the estate between the A414 and Roydon level crossing, indeed if I did not do so it was almost a case of Lord Aldenham asking what he had done to upset me! The police were always told when the property was to be left unattended so that we could make frequent visits to check that the house had not been broken into and I used to earn about £1 10s. (£1.50) a day beating for shooting parties. It may not sound much, but having two young children it was a welcome addition to our household finances and I invariably returned home with a brace of pheasants or ducks during the shooting season.
During the day the gates opposite Roydon Station would be open but at night, and possibly weekends, the gates would be locked. However, the key was always left hanging in the porch of the lodge so it was simply a matter of unlocking the gates and relocking them in order to drive through the estate. The Briggens estate was a very convenient short cut if needed. With the introduction of panda cars the Sergeant would sometimes come out with me. If we drove as far as the county boundary and Roydon level crossing we would have to turn back towards the A414. On more than one occasion I was asked at night if we could get through the estate but my reply was always that it was not possible as the gates were locked. I was not about to reveal my "escape route" if I was having a cup of tea at Roydon signal box.
The Aldenham family were all very polite. My wife told me on one occasion that she had done her shopping in the High Street and was about to walk back to the police house with a pram containing our baby daughter and our young son walking with her. In the High Street she met Lord Aldenham's grandson who kindly carried her shopping all the way back to the house before returning on foot back to the village centre. Those were very happy days.
John Weeks, 2021
Briggens rear gate, Roydon entrance.