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On Night Patrol With Constable Tassell

August 29, 2023
by the gentle author


Next ticket availability Saturday 2nd September


We join Constable Lew Tassell on a night patrol in the City of London on Tuesday December 12th 1972

Police Constable Lew Tassell of the City of London Police

“One week in December 1972, I was on night duty. Normally, I would be on beat patrol from Bishopsgate Police Station between 11pm-7am. But that week I was on the utility van which operated between 10pm-6am, so there would be cover during the changeover times for the three City of London Police divisions – Bishopsgate, Wood St and Snow Hill. One constable from each division would be on the van with a sergeant and a driver from the garage.

That night, I was dropped off on the Embankment during a break to allow me to take some photographs and I walked back to Wood St Police Station to rejoin the van crew. You can follow the route in my photographs.

The City of London at night was a peaceful place to walk, apart from the parts that operated twenty-four hours a day – the newspaper printshops in Fleet Street, Smithfield Meat Market, Billingsgate Fish Market and Spitalfields Fruit & Vegetable Market.

Micks Cafe in Fleet St never had an apostrophe on the sign or acute accent on the ‘e.’ It was a cramped greasy spoon that opened twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. During the night and early morning it served print-workers, drunks returning from the West End and the occasional vagrant.

Generally, we police did not use it. We might have been unwelcome because we would have stood out like a sore thumb. But I did observation in there in plain clothes sometimes. Micks Cafe was a place where virtually anything could be sourced, especially at night when nowhere else was open.”

Middle Temple Lane

Pump Court, Temple

King’s Bench Walk, Temple

Bouverie St, News of the World and The Sun

Fleet St looking East towards Ludgate Circus

Ludgate Hill looking towards Fleet St under Blackfriars Railway Bridge, demolished in 1990

Old Bailey from Newgate St looking south

Looking north from Newgate St along Giltspur St, St Bartholomew’s Hospital

Newgate St looking towards junction of Cheapside and New Change – buildings now demolished

Cheapside looking east from the corner of Wood St towards St Mary Le Bow and the Bank

HMS Chrysanthemum, Embankment

Constable Lew Tassell, 1972

Photographs copyright © Lew Tassell

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On Top Of Britannic House With Lew Tassell

A Walk Around The Docks With Lew Tassell

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Gilbert O’Brien permalink
    August 29, 2023

    I get a bit more nostalgic for the London Lew Tassell photographed, those dim quiet streets of the late 60s/early 70s when I was also exploring the very same places, even occasionally popping into Mick’s Cafe for egg and chips, a middle class teenager who was as much a sore thumb as Lew Tassell might have been. Is he still alive?

  2. Michael Babcock permalink
    August 30, 2023

    Checking in from Boston, Massachusetts, and with the street names you caption the photos with, I plotted (roughly) the course in Google Maps.

    I find this an interesting way to understand where the photos were taken, and the course, if only approximately since several captions indicate views at intersections. If I had a little more time, perhaps later, I’ll see if it’s possible to “walk” the route using Street View. I left Embankment off the route since that seems to have been a random shot. Perhaps the constable did loop south and west again, but the route would be impossible to plot.

    Particularly interesting, as a printer, would be Bouverie and Fleet Streets, though neither would remain vital or unchanged as they would have been in 1972 when the news was on paper.


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