A MAN who began his police career on the Keighley town centre beat has written his memoirs.

Ken Pickles also recalls his many years patrolling the Addingham and Bolton Abbey area in his new book Remember The Constable.

Ken has lived in Addingham ever since moving from his Keighley posting in the 1960s to the Wharfedale village’s police house.

Ken said: “My book covers Keighley and Skipton Division in the 60s and 70s when we still had a 'proper' police force.

“Keighley had four officers working the town beats 24 hours a day, plus the outside beats covered like Utley, Riddlesden, Ingrow, Oakworth,Bracken Bank, Worth Village and Laycock. Rural villages throughout the West Riding had resident constables.

“We had to be out where people could see us. You can’t put a price on the value of police officers on the street.”

After three years in Keighley, Ken spent 17 years on the Wharfedale beat, which entailed a long daily trek through the countryside taking in Addingham, Draughton, Bolton Bridge, Bolton Abbey, Storiths and the busy A65.

He said: “Every hour we had to stand at a telephone kiosk for 10 minutes in case Skipton station wanted to call us. Eventually I had a ‘Noddy bike, then a minivan, to get around in.

“The A65 was a very dangerous road in those days, and we dealt with the major accidents. I was usually the first on the scene.”

Ken said most of the police constables were ex-servicemen who had seen action during the Second World War, or National Servicemen like him.

He said: “They had taken an oath to serve the Queen and her people and did their best to make their country a safer place.

“Police officers lived among the people they policed, were well-known to them, respected and trusted and available to assist with every kind of problem.

“The retirement of most of those who served during World War Two to remove the backbone from the service and in the 70s led to massive changes and the days of the beat constables were numbered.”

Ken Pickles was born in 1939 in Riddlesden and grew up a keen naturalist, becoming a gamekeeper is a teenager.

In honour of his Scottish ancestry he spent his 1950s National Service with the Gordon Highlanders, joining the police force in 1961.

Despite gaining success in Home Office law exams and being offered promotion five times, Ken decided to remain a PC for his whole police career.

In his book Ken calls his wife Catherine the “unsung hero” who held the fort when he was on patrol and did much for the image of the police in handling public callers at all hours.

Ken has had published two books on bees, a poetry anthology and several short stories. He has a daughter and two grandchildren.

Remember The Constable is published by Peacock Press, Scout Bottom Farm, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge HX7 5JS