Story By Martyn Linton – IPA London North Branch
A few weeks ago I received via the London Reception Officer details of a group of officers from Switzerland who were visiting London. The trip was being arranged by a man called Carlos and the visit was for three days. Their trip was based around a England vs Switzerland football game to being played at Wembley.
Our guests arrived early on the Monday morning and later that morning I along with John Toombs (Hertfordshire & Bedfordshire Branch) and Rob Weaver (Gloucestershire Branch) met our guests at the hotel. After introductions we headed for the tube station to start our day of activities.
Our first stop was Kensington Palace and the Royal Albert Hall. Here John explained a little about the history of the buildings and the gardens.
We then went to a traditional pub in Kensington for some lunch and a couple of pints and after that we went to what would be the most popular venue of the day which was the Metropolitan Police Heritage Centre. The Heritage Centre is home to various exhibits of Met Police history. I am a serving Met officer and I have walked past the centre several times but have never been inside. Had I known what was inside I would have visited sooner.
Inside our guests tried on old uniforms and looked at exhibits and the friendly staff were happy to answer questions about exhibits. There were a range of exhibits that included helmets, swords, warrant cards, radios and more.
Prior to leaving the Heritage Centre a number of people myself included purchased items from the gift shop. The gift shop sells things from tie pins and badges to mounted presentation shields. I said thank you to Simon who works at the Heritage Centre for allowing me to take our visitors along. After leaving the Heritage Centre I was pleased to hear how much our guests had enjoyed themselves. I will certainly be returning with future guests.
Our next stop was the Houses Of Parliament. We were joined here by two more members of 9 Region. One of those members also named Martin spoke about the history of the building. We took photographs from the bridge and then went for a walk around the outside.
IPA Members Outside The Houses Of Parliament
We stopped at a few more buildings nearby including Westminster Abbey before going to our last venue of the day which was Downing Street. We had planned to visit some other venues however time was against us as we had arranged an evening get together for other members to join us.
After a short visit to Downing Street we got back on a tube to Russell Square for a beer and for the guests to have a shower etc before the evening event. The evening event was a casual get together and a few drinks. We went to the Metropolitan Bar in Baker Street. I went ahead of the group and spoke with the manager on duty where I explained that we had a large group and asked if we could present one of them with a birthday cake as it was his birthday. She was very accomodating and reserved a section of the pub for us to use so we could stay together.
After dinner the traditional exchanging of gifts got underway. BTP Branch Secretary Gary Warren and I presented a traditional helmet and some other things including patches. Carlos presented a Swiss hamper that contained a range of sausage, biscuits and cheese. Other gifts included patches, a bottle of alcohol which came with a verbal warning “drink this very slowly” and Swiss army knives.
At just past midnight the days events drew to a close and everyone made their way home. A good time was had by all and it was an absolute pleasure to have hosted IPA Switzerland members for the day.
I wanted to make a public thank you to Simon at the Met Police Heritage Centre. I have been speaking with him about taking IPA members to the centre. Simon has said that IPA members are more than welcome to visit in the future and I will certainly be taking him up on that offer. You can find out more about the Metropolitan Police Historical Collection and the Heritage Centre and join as a member for a very small annual fee by visiting https://www.metpolicehistory.co.uk/