The Job – A few early memories on where life can take you -Michael Layton

Yesterday I was chatting to a police pensioner in his 90s who has many great memories of how he first joined Birmingham City Police and went on to serve in traffic, driving the old Westminster’s,

and on CID at Lloyd House Police Headquarters. Everyone I know who becomes a police officer always refers to it as ‘the job’. Don’t ask me why but that’s the way it is. My meeting prompted me to reflect on my forty-two years service and the many aspects of that journey. I was born in Wheeler Street, Lozells near to the Lucas Factory. The cover of our little book ‘Tara A Bit’ features me playing at an early age with my elder sister in a back-yard. I later went to primary school at St. Silas’s. I realised at an early age that I didn’t like school and determined to make the experience as short as possible. At an early age I was a Marine Cadet at TS Vernon which was then situated at Gas Street Canal Basin, off Broad Street, and learnt the art of ‘bulling  boots’ which was to become useful later in life. (Photo) My abiding memory was of falling in the canal whilst canoeing. My father George (RIP) was at one stage a Special Constable in Birmingham City Police, as well as a Parks Policeman for a short time. (Photo) He was later to become the first civilian Warrants Office at Victoria Law Courts in Birmingham and spent many happy years there. (Photo). I later attended Lordswood Boys Technical School on the Hagley Road, and found technical drawing to be an impossible art. The lines simply never connected and I left school at the age of sixteen years with five ‘O’ Levels and one ‘CSE’ having promised myself that academic achievement was probably not going to be top of my list of things to strive for in life. I originally wanted to become a Police Cadet in the Birmingham City Police but was rejected because I was too thin. My doctor recommended a banana a day to increase weight but it simply didn’t work and I was eventually accepted by the British Transport Police as a cadet in 1968 and spent much of my time working at Rail House in Broad Street, at the Divisional HQ or at the old New Street Station which was a great place to learn your trade in the police. There is not one section of society that does not travel through a train station at some time or another. Football hooliganism was on the rise and at some stage it seemed like every phone box with a coinbox underneath was being broken into on the station which had a circular bank of them. I later attended an outward bound course at Elan Valley in Wales (photo) where I struggled to keep up with my West Midlands Police colleagues who were all pretty much twice my size and super-fit. In 1972 I transferred to Birmingham City Police and originally served in uniform at Ladywood before transferring to the CID. In 1974 the Force became the West Midlands Police and so the story goes on. Hairstyles have changed over the years but the job remains the same. (Photos) Some of those police experiences are chronicled in books – not glamorous, although occasionally exciting, and routinely intriguing they have been my life. The first picture is of me being presented with the Queens Police Medal in 2003 by HM The Queen having been awarded it in the New Years Honours List. From Wheeler Street to Buckingham Palace but not the end of the story and I still only have  five ‘O’ Levels and a CSE certificate!


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