On yer bike: Ballater’s vintage police cycle

18 June 2014, The Donside Piper, Scotland

A vintage police cycle, dating from 1960 and used to safeguard Balmoral Castle, is one of Ballater’s more unusual two-wheeled residents.

The nifty bike with a history belongs to John Holley who still rides it, not as a method of police transport but down to collect his daily paper at the newsagent.

Built by Raleigh in Nottingham, the bicycle was intended for export to Nigeria where it was considered a status symbol due to having the unusual feature of two crossbars providing extra strength.

Instead it was used for general police patrols and home beat duties by officers of the Metropolitan Police, London, at Chelsea Police Station, Sutton Police Station and Banstead Police Station.

For two to three months each summer the police bike was used by officers attached to Scotland Yard’s Royalty Protection Department (SO14) for security patrols at Balmoral Castle, when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the British Royal Family were in residence.

During the early 1980s the London Metropolitan Police actively encouraged the stamping of a post code on bicycles and this particular one was used heavily in the promotion of this crime prevention initiative by the force.

Contrary to general perception, the Metropolitan Police did not own the bikes.

They were, in fact, owned by the individual officer who received a cycle allowance when used for official police duties.

Today, 54 years on, the bike is used on a very regular basis and housed permanently in Ballater.

It receives many admiring glances and interested enquiries such as “They don’t make ‘em like that anymore” from locals and tourists alike when ‘parked’ in the village.

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