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The Cooper Works later The Traffic Police Garage In Surbiton

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User avatar
MAB
Posts: 432
Joined: 20 Dec 2016, 22:55
London/Surrey
England

The Cooper Works later The Traffic Police Garage In Surbiton

Postby MAB » 24 Dec 2016, 15:19

The story behind the Police Garage TDV and their Mini Cooper Police cars - The Metropolitan Police's 'V' Division Traffic Garage, formerly the Cooper Works in Surbiton, Surrey until the 1970's.

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"Charles Cooper moved into 243 Ewell Road Surbiton in 1934. This was a corner shop at the Junction with Hollyfield Road, to the rear was the site that would become TDV. At that time it was a corrugated building, with a small stream 'out back'. It is rumoured that Charles kept ducks on the stream. The Cooper family would for awhile live in the flat, above the corner shop. The site was first known as Cooper's Garage and it operated a 24hr breakdown service. Later it would also posses a Vauxhall dealership.
Having the police station across the road, turned out to be an added bonus. Because as the Ambulance came down the hill (from the ambulance station) they would ring their bell, to inform the police station, they were attending an accident, on the Kingston By Pass. It is said that at this sound, Charles would crank up his breakdown truck and follow the emerging police car (before JPG was even born)!!
The growth of the Cooper company into a Formula One team is a story in it's self and very much involves Charlie's son John. Anyone wanting to know more should, purchase a copy of Doug Nye's excellent book Cooper Cars. The above picture was shamefully copied from this book, although he has subsequently agreed to its use.
By the end of the sixties the Cooper Formula One team was no more. For a while the site was used as a Cooper Cars Sales dealership. In the seventies it would become TDV."

The Austin Mini YOK 250 used as the Cooper prototype alongside a Cooper Formula Junior race car outside the Surbiton works.
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Clive Abrahams adds, "I joined TDV Traffic Unit at its location at Hampton in November 1967. We moved into our new garage at Hollyfield Road, Surbiton on 1st April 1968. The new garage premises were owned by and leased to the Metropolitan Police by one John Cooper. The same john Cooper of Formula 1 fame, and the originator of the now famous Mini Cooper Car. The first Mini Cooper’s were converted from the standard machines at the premises now occupied by us."

In August 1968 we were supplied with the two Mini Coopers index numbers PYT767F and PYT768F, these replaced Wolseley 110’s, which were being phased out, these had the standard car for very many years. The remainder of our fleet at this time consisted of,

A Daimler Dart
A Sunbeam Tiger
Rover 2000TC’s
Triumph 2000’s
Land Rover 109 long wheel base
Jaguar 3.4s Type ‘s


This later car was destined to be the workhorse of Traffic Division for many years to come. However it had one major draw back. This related to the Area, which our Traffic unit patrolled. This consisted of the outer very rural parts of Surrey with fast open roads

Where the car ruled supreme and also the very urban inner part of Greater London such as Tooting, Balham and Wandesworth, where the manual clutch proved to be very hard on the leg muscles.

To this end the Mini Cooper was brought in to see if it would fill the niche as a more suitable vehicle for the inner London areas.

The main difference was how the vehicles would be used. Normal patrolling practise was for double manned cars. The mini’s would to be single manned with two vehicles patrolling the same area previously patrolled by one. Thus Whiskey 11 became Whiskey 11 and 12.

The vehicles were purpose built for single manned operation. The centre boss of the steering wheel, now redundant as a horn button, was replaced with a speaker / microphone with a small remote transmitter switch on the steering column. This enabled the car to be driven at speed without hands being removed from the steering wheel to transmit messages.

The vehicle had two-tone air horns and a winkless bell all under the bonnet. The standard AT calibrated speedometer head was fitted in place of the standard mini speedometer. Other then that the vehicle was more or less completely standard. We Carried minimum kit in the boot and in the area that would normally have been the rear seat which removed there was a single rotating Blue light fitted. This was mounted on a raised plinth of about 4inches; as to mount it on the roof directly would have been blow the required height for it to be legal. A single Ariel was mounted behind the Blue light. There were POLICE signs front and rear, which could best be described as number plate style. The front can be seen; the rear was above the rear number plate illumination/ Boot handle.

We kept the vehicles for about two years. There were teething trouble with gear selection and brake fade, they eventually moved on to our Traffic Unit at Bow (near the City of London) and then to disposal.

To the best of my knowledge no others were purchased despite an original order for 12.in those days policemen were much larger and taller then today so the were somewhat cramped, but extremely enjoyable to drive through heavy traffic situations.

The picture below is from the Daily Mail and it shows is Eric Molyneaux (who was 6’3”) with Edward Spinks (about 17 stone) who was about to retire after 30 years service. You can see why both were chosen for their physical attributes.

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Gift Set, featuring the two Mini Coopers loaned to TDV in 1968. It is a limited edition of 2000 and were manufactured to mark the 75 years of The Metropolitan Police Traffic Division. They are supplied in a transparent presentation case, with a numbered certificate of authenticity

More here:
http://www.tdv.org.uk/cooper.htm

Photos of Cooper's Garage in Surbiton, Surrey 1962 and quite recently.......latest news update is it is now a Porsche specialist garage.
http://www.charlesivey.com/contact-us/

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See Page 257 of Nye 'Cooper Cars' (World Champions series) Osprey.
Photo says 1962, and inset of Cooper special 1936.
Corner showroom window says "The Austin Super" and a weird squiggle... "Austin for Luxury"
Full caption of the picture:-
"The Cooper empire after 25 years’ effort, depicted in this montage promotional photo ; Charles and John supposedly blocking Hollyfield Road with their Mini-Coopers, No 243 Ewell Road on the corner with the family flat above where first Mr & Mrs Cooper Snr then Mr & Mrs Jr lived before buying properties elsewhere ; the corner showroom where Stirling Moss spotted his first Cooper 500, where Owen Maddock studied the ThinWall Special and from where Ian Burgess and Andrew Ferguson used to run the Drivers’ School. In the background is the rebuilt production factory, now with the drawing office housed in the penthouse extension, while Major Owens had taken over the old drawing office behind the ‘Esso’ sign. Inset, the Cooper Spl ‘TI’, John up, in the Brooklands paddock."

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User avatar
MAB
Posts: 432
Joined: 20 Dec 2016, 22:55
London/Surrey
England

Re: The Cooper Works later The Traffic Police Garage In Surbiton

Postby MAB » 02 Apr 2017, 09:03

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A press cutting and photo from the original launch of the Mini Cooper in the showroom at Surbiton. (Thanks to Neil Duke)
L-R
Bruce McClaren, Roy Salvidori, Mayor & Mayoress of Surbiton (Mr & Mrs Greenwood) & John Cooper.

Image

(From 1962 Autocar magazine - (Thanks to Mininuts-TMF)

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MAB
Posts: 432
Joined: 20 Dec 2016, 22:55
London/Surrey
England

Re: The Cooper Works later The Traffic Police Garage In Surbiton

Postby MAB » 02 Apr 2017, 09:00

Some Pathe film of the earlier Cooper Garage in Surbiton here:
Speed Car To Invade America AKA The Cooper… 1949
http://www.britishpathe.com/video/speed ... er-car-aid

More recently discoved Pathe film here (May 2014)
John Cooper at Surbiton & testing a Cooper race car on the A3 Kingston by pass in 1946!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNBekmexzyA

Video tour of the Metropolitan Police's 'V' Division Traffic Garage, formerly the Cooper Works in Surbiton, Surrey until the 1970's.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10Ue4h6mzgY

"Charles Cooper moved into 243 Ewell Road Surbiton in 1934. This was a corner shop at the Junction with Hollyfield Road, to the rear was the site that would become Cooper Cars. At that time it was a corrugated building, with a small stream 'out back'. It is rumoured that Charles kept ducks on the stream. The Cooper family would for awhile live in the flat above the corner shop. The site was first known as Cooper's Garage and it operated a 24hr breakdown service. Later it would also possess a Vauxhall dealership and later still the Metropolitan Police Garage TDV."

Property Details are still online (now open again as a Porsche Garage):-
http://www.charlesivey.com/contact-us/
Ex-John Cooper Works in Surbiton was for sale/to let:-
http://bonsors.agencypilot.com/store/do ... key=296+97
Business premises comprising Industrial/Workshop,Offices and roof terrace.
Approx 7,218 sq ft (670.6 sq m)

The Listed Building Entry below says.....

Former Cooper Cars Company workshop and showroom - List Entry Summary
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
Name: Former Cooper Cars Company workshop and showroom
List entry Number: 1429242
Location
Hollyfield Road, Surbiton, Surrey, KT5 9AL
Grade: II
Date first listed: 24-Sep-2015

Summary of Building
Sports car workshop and showroom. Built c1958 for Charles Cooper to the designs of Richard Maddock on the site of his earlier garage. Second-storey draughtsman’s office added c1960. From 1965 used as a police car depot/forensics laboratory.
Reasons for Designation
The former Cooper Car Company workshop and showroom, Hollyfield Road, Surbiton, built c1958 for Charles Cooper for the construction of Formula 1 racing cars, is recommended for listing at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Historical interest: for the role played by the Cooper Car Company in the development of the modern Formula 1 racing car, and the important role that it played in the history of British motor sport;
It would appear that all the cars from the Cooper 500 onward were built at the Hollyfield Road workshop, although a secondary site at Langley Road, Surbiton was purchased in the late 1950s. From 1961 John Cooper, in association with Alec Issigonis, designer of the British Motor Corporation (BMC) Mini, designed a series of sports versions of the car, the Mini Cooper. These were large scale production models and were built by BMC at Longbridge, Birmingham but their design is popularly associated with Hollyfield Road.
* Architectural interest: for the early use of double-height, aluminium-framed glazing utilised in a dramatic curved frontage; * Rarity: very few purpose-built motor car workshops or showrooms survive from this period.

History
The site on Hollyfield Road was purchased by Charles Cooper in the 1920s. The plot was populated with a series of sheds which he used for his garage business; these are shown on the 1934 Ordnance Survey (OS) map. In the late-1930s a parade of shops was built along Ewell Road where the end shop (No 243) was leased by Charles Cooper as a showroom, with his family living in the flat above. By the time of the 1955 OS map the sheds had been cleared and a new garage built on the site. It is shown in a 1946 Pathé newsreel as a series of single-storey, pitched roofed workshops, stretching to the road in the north-west corner, with a yard to the south-west with three petrol pumps. The current building was designed by the architect Richard Maddock, father of Owen Maddock (1925-2000) who was the Cooper Car Company’s chief designer from the late 1950s until 1963. Richard Maddock had been employed by the practice of Sir Herbert Baker and worked on the rebuilding of the Bank of England (1925-39). The current building is shown in a photograph of 1958/9 around the time that it was built. Another photograph, dated 1963, shows the addition of a draughtsman’s office on the flat roof of the main two-storey range. In 1965 Cooper Cars relocated to Byfleet in Surrey and the garage was leased to the Metropolitan Police as a police car depot and subsequently as a forensics site. Some internal re-ordering was carried out, particularly on the ground floor of the office block. The police vacated the site in 2014.

Lots more detail on the site and building in the Historic England listing here:-
https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/ ... ry/1429242
Last edited by MAB on 02 Apr 2017, 09:07, edited 2 times in total.


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