There was sadness at this week’s Chipping Norton Town Council meeting when PCSO Cheryl Harrison told councillors that Chipping Norton Police Station would close in 2015.
The police station, located on London Road, was one of the first purpose-built police stations in Oxfordshire.
In mid-Victorian times, the county’s police committee had identified Banbury, Chipping Norton and Woodstock as the first three places in Oxfordshire that should get a new, purpose-built, town police station, and land for Chippy’s police station was duly purchased in 1859.
By the 1870s, the police station was run by the inimitable Superintendent Joseph Lakin, who in 1873 imprisoned two poverty-stricken mothers and their babies. The women said they were barely fed and that the station was cold; the babies were starving and became ill as a result.
Lakin and his staff were subsequently accused of “gross inhumanity”- a cause celebre that became known in the national press as “The Chipping Norton Case”.
On a lighter note, the police station is now home to a famous – or infamous – snooker table, and several of the councillors wondered what would happen to it when the station closed!
Cheryl moved to assure councillors that Thames Valley Police would continue to have a presence in town, perhaps renting a new property in town as their base.
The closure is not, perhaps, unexpected. The police station has seen its opening hours reduced in recent years – it is currently only open 10-2, Monday to Friday.
However, its closure – even if it is nearly two years in the future – has already led to speculation on social media about the future of the site. Some wonder whether it will be the next building, after a couple of old Chippy pubs and the old hospital site, to be turned into housing.