Linton in Pictures
A History of Linton
in Photographs
Available here
LINTON MAGISTRATES COURT AND POLICE STATION IN SYMONDS LANE

Once Cambridgeshire had established its own police force in the early 1850’s a decision was made to divide the County into six Police Divisions.

The Linton Division covered over twenty local parishes going as far afield as Sawston , Ickleton and Weston Colville. New Police Stations were built in each of the Divisions, the Linton one cost £1040. Linton’s implementation of this new system did not proceed as smoothly as expected. In August 1855 the new buildings were severely damaged by “idle and disorderly persons.”

Nevertheless the Linton Police Station opened on time. It was staffed by at least ten police officers. There was a Superintendent in charge assisted by an Inspector, one or two Sergeants and eight Constables. In 1900 there were only 72 policemen of all ranks in the whole of the County (this figure did not include Cambridge Town or the Isle of Ely).

However, crime was very low and all the Linton Division cases were brought to Court within a two to four week period. Swift justice indeed compared with the present day. The Police Station in Symonds Lane finally closed in 1958 when the new Cambridge Road Police Station was opened.

New Magistrates Courts to try local offenders were attached to each Divisional Police Station from 1855. The Linton Court met every two weeks on a Wednesday and the cases heard were reported in the local press. Most were concerned with poaching, drunken assault, petty theft or marital disputes.

Here are three cases from the Cambridge newspaper archives:

In 1857 Charles Whittaker, a 30 year old labourer was found guilty of stealing 25 pounds (weight) of brass from his employer in West Wratting. He was sent to the Shire Assizes and sentenced to four years transportation.

In 1865 Robert Swann, a Linton labourer brutally assaulted his mother with a dung fork! The local magistrates sentenced him to three months hard labour to be served in the prison at Cambridge Castle.

Finally, Eugene Stamp a trainee Pupil Teacher at the Linton Church School threw a stone from a footbridge at a passing train. He lost his job and was sent for trial at the Assizes. Since his offence was more an act of stupidity rather than a malicious crime he was treated very leniently. He only received a fourteen day jail term.

Reading through hundreds of cases I was surprised to find that juries often acquitted prisoners when the evidence was contentious. Even important local people sometimes lost the cases they had brought against poor working class defendants. The English judicial system seems to have operated reasonably fairly in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Linton Magistrates Court finally closed in 1979.