History: Iconic Wanstead Police Station sold after 127 years (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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History: Iconic Wanstead Police Station sold after 127 years in service
Until its closure in September, Wanstead Police Station was the only London police station left to still have its famous blue lamp outside.
Now with windows boarded up and the famous blue lamp outside the station a thing of the past, the red brick exterior is the only reminder of the old station which opened its doors in Spratt Hall Road 127 years ago.
Before the station existed, a sergeant and three constables from Ilford began to patrol the area before a small temporary station was set up in 1845.
However it did not have any cells and prisoners were sent to Walthamstow police station.
A new building in Spratt Hall Road was built in 1885 in the traditional Queen Anne style, common with 19th Century buildings, normally consisting of terracotta brick work, broad porches and shadowed entrances.
The style was frequently used by Metropolitan Police surveyor John Butler, who designed Wanstead Police station as well as the old Scotland Yard building.
In 1886, at a cost of £2,366, the station opened, consisting of a detached building at the front, with a yard to the rear in which there was another building which held stables and accommodation for married officers to live in with their spouses.
An entry in Jones’ Woodford directory the following year read: “A new station has recently been erected near the Local Board Offices. The force consists of four inspectors, one sergeant and 16 constables.”
Information is known about one officer who was employed four years later called George Reim, who was awarded a special medal for his services in 1896 at the age of 24.
He later received a long-term service medal in 1914, when it was thought he left the force due to his potentially German surname and the start of the First World War.
According to the 1881 census of the George Lane area in South Woodford, previously called Wanstead Lane, many officers who were based at the station lived in the area.
At the station’s centenary in 1986, hundreds of police officers attended and an exhibition was held with photos, old uniforms, pocket books, lamps, truncheons and souvenirs.
Past police officers said the station had managed to retain its friendly atmosphere.
Up until its closure in September, the original cells were still used to hold suspects, while the old accommodation previously used for married officers made way for the crime squad.
The station was finally closed as part of a range of cuts designed to save the Met £500 million across London by 2015.
Although the station no longer serves its 127-year purpose, the Met says the closure will improve services and 86 extra officers will be placed in the area over the next two years.
The station remains a locally listed building but failed to become nationally listed.
Wanstead Society member Geoff Horsnell said: “We did try to get it nationally listed, but English Heritage told us that, despite its pedigree, it was not sufficiently unique.
“Even so, it remains one of a very small number of Victorian buildings that still have the original stables at the back.
“I would have thought that a building designed by none other than John Butler was important in itself.”
It was confirmed by police that the building would not be used for any further police work and the it is now boarded up after being sold by London estate agent Knight Frank.
A spokesman for Knight Frank said: “I can confirm a deal has been made and the site is no longer available. The details are being finalised.”
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