We have just received this excellent series of photographs of the old Hamilton Police Station on Parliament Street, between Front Street and Reid Street, which is in the process of being demolished. The photos were all taken by our good friend and former colleague Dexter “Fudge” Flood who has very kindly allowed us to use them to illustrate this article on our ExPo website and on our ExPo Facebook page.
We invite you to write to us and let us have your recollections of working at this Police Station together with any photos you may have that were taken inside or outside the building.
Prior to undergoing a major refurbishment in the mid 1970’s the Allenhurst Building as it was called, was the headquarters of H.M. Customs for many years as well as housing Government offices, including the Accountant General's department on the upper floors. It is believed to have been originally built in 1906 by Musson Wainwright for the Furnishing and Supply Company and was converted a few years later to the Allenhurst Hotel. It was acquired by the Bermuda Government in the 1920’s for use as Government offices, with the upper floors apparently utilized as police barracks for a few years.
The so-called “major refurbishment” was intended as a short-term solution so the Police could move out of their existing station which at that time was located a little further north on Parliament Street where the Government Offices are now located. The old station was in poor condition, too small, and totally unfit for purpose, and there were strong representations made to Government for a new custom-built police station in Hamilton.
Senior police officers of the day tell of meeting with Government officials who explained their dilemma - financing a new prison or a new police station! There was a great and urgent need to build a new prison to replace Casemates which was never intended as a prison and was both grossly inadequate and in terrible condition, and a decision had to be made as to which project should be tackled first. The senior officers, including then Commissioner L.M. “Nobby” Clark were invited to Casemates to examine the prison facilities and were said to have agreed that the first priority should be a new prison facility, on the understanding that moving into the Allenhurst Building would be a temporary measure for about 2 years.
Commissioner Clark reluctantly agreed to the move from the old police station to the Allenhurst building but he made a comment in his own inimitable style that, “We won’t have a new police station as long as I have a hole in my a…..” 'Nobby' retired from the BPS in 1981 and he passed away in 1993 when the promised new Hamilton Police Station was still years away from reality!
By the late 1960’s the Allenhurst building was practically derelict and suffered from major termite damage, and in late 1969 H.M. Customs moved to the old Hamilton Hall on Front Street. The Allenhurst building remained empty and derelict for several years but it was finally refurbished as a temporary police station in 1978 and this included installing holding cells, a reception area, interview rooms and offices for both uniform and CID personnel. Even after it was opened it required extensive repairs and constant upgrading much of which was carried out by then Police carpenter, Malcolm “Malcy” Smith and his assistant.
It was 33 years before the Police Service finally moved into their brand new state-of-the-art Hamilton Police Station located in the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building on Court Street at the junction with Victoria Street, on 7th October 2011. The building, which also houses the new Magistrates’ Court and Government offices had a price tag of some $94.5 million.
The Police Station was officially opened by H.E. The Governor, Sir Ricard Gozney who cut the ribbon together with The Hon. Wayne Perinchief, then the Minister of National Security, who is of course, one of own fellow ExPo members having served in the BPS from 1964 until 1995 and at the time of his retirement had risen to the rank of Assistant Commissioner. Wayne would have had first-hand knowledge of the old police station at the Allenhurst building having spent much of his career working out of the old Station, especially during his time in Central CID.
CLICK HERE the Royal Gazette article covering the official opening of the new Police Station.
Shortly after the official opening of the new Hamilton Police Station, then Commissioner Michael DeSilva invited all of the past Commissioner's who were still with us to a conducted tour of the new facility. All four would have been very familiar with the conditions existing at the old Station during their working days, and all four were most impressed by the new facility.
From the very earliest days of the Police Force which was incorporated in 1879, the first Hamilton Police Station was built on Parliament Street at the junction with Church Street as seen in the attached photo taken circa 1890.
When the second Hamilton Police Station was created where the Government Administration building now stands, it was situated next to the Hamilton Jail which held anyone sent to prison until the Casemates at Dockyard was converted for use as the prison, so we have had no less than three buildings on Parliament Street used as police stations.
When comparing the two phorographs of our modern Hamilton Police Station today with the building being used in 1890, it is noticeable that both buildings are within a short distance of Holy Trinity cathedral We may not have moved very far physically, but we are light years away from the Police Force in 1879.
2nd July 2020
When Dexter "Fudge" Flood recently donated these excellent photos of the old police station being demolished he suggested that perhaps some of our ExPo memers might want to reminisce about their time working in the old building and share some of their experiences with us. We would be delighted to hear from whether you worked out of the Station on beat patrol, as duty driver, station constable or sergeant, jailer, duty driver, in CID, or in the office. We are also looking for photos of the building, both inside and outside. You can either make short comments in the "Comments" section below or send us a more detailed reply by email. We look forward to hearing from you.
To get us started here are some telling comments made by the Late Chief Inspector Gerry James in his "Then and Now" article how, after being promoted to Inspector in 1976, he was transferred to the "new" Hamilton Police Station. CLICK HERE for the full "Then and Now" article about Gerry.
"While at Operations I was promoted to Inspector at the time when they introduced the Watch Inspector system at our “new” Hamilton Police Station near the bottom of Parliament Street. This was in September 1976.
The old police station had been demolished to make way for the new Government Administration Building, and we were moved to the old Customs building further down the street. The place was a dump and most unsatisfactory as a Police Station. The move was supposed to be for 2 years, but as of now (January 2011) the Police are still there and I’ve been retired for quite a few years! (Editor’s note - the new Police Station on Court Street was officially opened in October 2011)
As soon as we moved in I had two major concerns, apart from the terrible condition of the building. One was that the cells were housed in a separate building and I thought this was a real security problem. The other concern was about the location of the interview rooms on either side of the corridor when you walked through the Station. I made my concerns known to senior officers but they were brushed off.
It took two serious incidents to highlight these problems. On one occasion a prisoner was being interviewed in one of the interview rooms by a detective, and they got into a fight with the prisoner hitting the police officer. The door had been locked from the inside and it was only by luck that someone happened to walk by the room and hear the sounds of the struggle. We had to smash down the door to get in there and subdue the prisoner.
On the second occasion I was sitting in the Inspector’s office on the 1st floor interviewing two people when I noticed the smell of smoke. I called downstairs to enquire where the smell was coming from and the station constable had no idea. The fire alarm went off and I immediately went downstairs to check it out. It turned out that a detective had been interviewing a prisoner who had been cooperative so the detective gave him a lit cigarette when he placed him back in the cells. The prisoner decided to set fire to his blanket and the cells very quickly filled up with smoke, so much that several prisoners in the cells were overcome with fumes and had to be carried out and given first aid before being sent to the hospital for treatment. P.C. Phil Taylor also suffered serious injuries for smoke inhalation and had to be sent to England for treatment. I know that for days after I was spitting up lumps of soot.
It took these two incidents and other problems for us to have some renovations carried out, but even then the building was never suitable as a Police Station."
We have just received these comments from retired D/Superintedent George Rose who spent several years there in Central CID.
"Back in 1968 the two-story Valerie T. Scott building (shown boarded up) was in use by Central CID with an office on the upper floor and at least one interview room at street level. D/ Chief Insp. Trott’s office was on the upper level. I distinctly remember interviewing “Dewey” Durrant in the room second in from the corner looking out onto Reid Street when DCI Sheehy signaled to me through the window as he walked past heading east. He knew I was in there alone at 5.0 pm with “Dewey” who I’d arrested earlier and who eventually confessed to his part in the burning down of A.S. Coopers Warehouse during the preceding riots of April 1968. [See article]
The upstairs office looked down on the old Hamilton Post Office on the diagonal corner (later to become the Hamilton Magistrates Court.) There was many an arrest of wanted persons crossing the junction after being observed from the CID office.
I believe the policewomen’s department led by Insp. Isobel Lee was also in the same building at about this time located downstairs in the far west section.
I recall walking to the Allenhurst building (now Valerie T. Scott) as a young CID officer in company with the newly arrived D/Supt “Gruff” Hammond. We had just walked out of the Supreme Court together where a Bermudian, Forbes, had just been acquitted of the street shooting death of a girl DeSilva despite some fairly convincing witness evidence. He said to me as we entered Allenhurst, “This is an evil island lad, an evil island.” Those words have stuck with me ever since although I don’t necessarily agree with his assertion.
There were three floors above the ground level in the main police station each connected with a wooden flight of stairs leading off a landing. Wood worm droppings could be observed daily on each of the bannisters and treads. There was no elevator joining the floors. Whenever a certain overweight senior barrister attended the station in search of his arrested client who was being interviewed by CID on the top floor it became necessary to take the prisoner to a ground level interview room in order to accommodate the lawyer presence. It was very clear he would not have been able to ascend the steps to the top floor.
I recall being in the Officers Mess late one afternoon in mid-1978 when then Home Affairs Minister Sir John Sharpe who had earlier attended a passing out parade at headquarters was being entertained after the event. I heard him say to Commissioner ‘Nobby’ Clark “It’s a bit of a dump I know but only temporary, we’ll have you out of there inside two years.” He was referring of course to the move of the old, old police station a short distance to the Allenhurst building which Sir John acknowledged was a most unsuitable place on the lower hill of Parliament Street.
In the basement of the Allenhurst building there were large walk-in vaults similar to those to be found in banks. The heavy doors hung on colossal hinges and I recall long wooden trestle tables being set up inside one of the two vaults holding confiscated stolen property being itemized. It seems to me that the building must have been erected around the vaults since I can see no way they would have been added afterwards. The only way to descend into the basement was to navigate from the ground floor down a twisting wooden stairway similar to being in a lighthouse.
The building once housed the Accountant General’s Department (and HM Customs I heard) and the vaults are said to have housed the Government’s cash on hand. Whenever large amounts of coin or bullion was off-loaded from a ship at dock it was transferred under secure police escort up the hill into the vaults for safe keeping.
The building was abandoned by the Accountant General when it was condemned structurally and also declared a fire risk by the Fire Service. A fire escape staircase existed on the southern side only but could only be accessed through locked administration offices at nighttime. The roof was flat and was a constant source of water drip. During the height of Hurricane Emily in September 1987 a ‘waterfall’ was seen running from the roof top down inside the building and into the basement where it had to be pumped out later."
3rd July 2020
Sgt. Dave Cook
Comments from retired Inspector Dave Cook:-
"When I worked in Valerie Scott building as Divisional Clerk in 1968 it was called the Golinsky Building. Chief Insp Robert Ball was OIC Central.