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A Walk In The City With PC Lew Tassell

June 10, 2024
by the gentle author

Next tickets for THE GENTLE AUTHOR’S TOUR OF SPITALFIELDS are available for Saturday 22nd June


Taking advantage of the early summer sunshine, Lew Tassell and I enjoyed a recent stroll through the City as he regaled me with tales of yesteryear.

PC Lewis Tassell on the beat in the seventies


‘Over my thirty years in the City of London Police I spent a lot of time engaged in duties other than walking the beat – security assignments, interviews, meetings and conferences in different locations in the Square Mile. Here are a few places of which I have fond memories and one in particular that was tragically sad.’


Pump Court


‘Working for twenty years in the Fraud Squad and a further sixteen years at the Serious Fraud Office, I spent a lot of time at case conferences in barristers’ chambers at 4 Pump Court off Middle Temple Lane where Henry Fielding lived in the eighteenth century.

The original buildings dated back to 1625 but many were destroyed during World War II and 4 Pump Court was rebuilt in 1952. The case in question took a number of years and led to the successful conviction of two fraudsters after a long trial at the Old Bailey in which the prosecution was led by a senior barrister from 4 Pump Court.

Walking through the Temple Estate is like stepping back in time, a haven in the centre of the metropolis. There are still gas lamps in Middle Temple Lane which in the eighties they were being switched on and off manually each day, although they are automatic today. ‘


Middle Temple Lane

Royal Courts of Justice


‘The Royal Courts of Justice house the High Court and Court of Appeal of England & Wales. During the seventies whilst working in the CID at Bishopsgate Police Station, I had a case of theft that went to trial at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey. All cases where the defendant elected to go to trial ended up at the Bailey no matter how trivial. This used to annoy some judges who were more used to dealing with high profile cases of murder, rape, robbery or fraud, rather than simple theft.

In fact my case was moved at the last minute from the Old Bailey, where they had no court available, to the Law Courts. So I ended up giving evidence here and it was all over in about two days with the defendant was found guilty.’


Micks Cafe


‘This was a Fleet St institution in the seventies when it was open twenty-four hours and seven days a week. It was constantly busy during the day but even busier at night when it was frequented by the print workers, drunks on their way home and homeless people who went there to keep warm, especially in winter.

On night duty in the seventies, we carried out a plain clothes observation in the cafe. It was suggested that the place was a location for dealing stolen gear and whatever was wanted by print workers could be sourced at Micks, though not – I should add – from those that ran it.

Needless to say the observations were fruitless since we stuck out like sore thumbs, sitting at cramped grimy tables sipping stewed tea all night. The establishment later acquired a apostrophe and became Mick’s Cafe before it closed in the nineties.’


St Paul’s Cathedral


‘I had many security duties at St Paul’s and I have had the good fortune to visit every part, from the crypt beneath to the cross on the top. One night when the cathedral was closed and sealed, I was tasked with patrolling the crypt alone in the dim light of the early hours of the morning. It was one of the few times that I have been truly spooked. I stood before the sarcophagus of the Duke of Wellington and immediately behind me was the tomb of Admiral Horatio Nelson. For some reason I started to shiver. Perhaps it was just the weight of history coupled with the fact it was in the middle of the night and I was on my own in the dark?

In 1982 I was on a security detail for a Service of Celebration & Thanksgiving to mark 60 years of the BBC in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen & His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, as well as many other VIPs. Sir Charles Groves was conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra with members of the Scottish, Welsh & Northern Symphony Orchestras. It was by ticket only and there were no exceptions. When I checked in Sir Charles, he was followed by a woman who I stopped because she did not have a ticket. Sir Charles turned and exclaimed ‘That’s my wife, if you don’t let her in there will be no bloody music’. Today here is a memorial stone to him in the cathedral.’


Wood St Police Station


‘My base in the Fraud Squad for twenty years was Wood St Police Station. It was built in 1965 to house the communications department, the stables and garage as well as accommodation in the tower block, mainly for single men and women who were serving in the force.

When I joined the Squad in 1979, they occupied what was the former living accommodation. It was a fine building but not really conducive for use as a police station. The garage was underground with low ceilings that had exposed pipes and ductwork, making it unsuitable for many police vehicles and the canteen was directly above the stables which made it unpleasant in hot weather. In later years much of the building fell into disrepair because alterations could not be made to bring it up to the standard required for a modern police station since it was a Grade II* listed building. The building is now to be converted to a luxury hotel.’




‘This is a fifteenth century Grade I listed building with a stunning medieval Great Hall where I fulfilled security duties at many functions over the years – banquets for visiting heads of state and Lord Mayor’s banquets. On two occasions, I even attended banquets myself as a guest at celebrations of the achievements of the Fraud Squad.’


Moorgate Station


‘As a police officer there are many tragic events that you have to deal with as best you can. On 28th February 1975 I was on early duty when I went into the front office at Bishopsgate Police Station. The phone rang and was answered by the sergeant. He asked me to walk around to Moorgate tube before my break as a train had run into the buffers. At the time, it was the worst peacetime accident on the London Underground that had happened. Forty-three people died and seventy-four others were injured. I still use Moorgate tube and I am always reminded of that dreadful day. There is a plaque at the station and a memorial in Finsbury Sq listing the names of those who died.’


You may also like to trace our previous walks

On the Beat with PC Lew Tassell

On the Beat with PC Lew Tassell again

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Marcia Howard permalink
    June 10, 2024

    A fascinating career, albeit hard to cope with tragedies such as the Moorgate Station one. Hardly ever see a Bobby on the Beat these days, but they were always a reassurance that ‘all would be well’

  2. Mark permalink
    June 10, 2024

    Lew’s photos are exquisite.
    Interesting take on the man and his working life.
    The tragedy of Moorgate, a sleazy greasy spoon.
    The life of a plod.

  3. Eleanor Bloom permalink
    June 11, 2024

    Hello Lew👋, have enjoyed reading all the accounts of your career. Very nostalgic for me as I was there in the City police from the early days of the 70’s.
    Hope you’re keeping well.
    Love Eleanor

  4. Lew Tassell permalink
    June 12, 2024

    Hi Eleanor, remember you well from the 70s at Bishopsgate, it’s nice to get back in touch.
    Love Lew

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