SOME of our most popular TV series are crime dramas. Wallingford is well known in this respect: Agatha Christie wrote many of her thrillers here, providing us with Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot; the town has been a major location for filming Midsomer Murders, and most recently Endeavour. But how was real crime in the town policed in the past? Here’s just one true drama from 1887. A drover staying overnight in The Jolly Farmer pub in Wood Street woke to find his trousers had been stolen during the night. As he possessed only the one pair, he asked the police to track down the thief and recover his lost trousers. A policeman was duly dispatched and, after a remarkable search, he found and arrested the culprit, many miles away in Aldershot, and set off back to Wallingford with him. Meanwhile, the robbed man was ‘taking root’ at The Jolly Farmer, unable to leave for lack of trousers! The landlord felt that ‘having to feed him as well as lodge him for nothing was not a very desirable project’ (as the local newspaper put it) so eventually he acquired another pair of trousers for the man and sent him on his way. Shortly afterwards, the triumphant policeman returned with his prisoner (and trousers), only to find that there was no one there to accuse him to the magistrate - so the case was dismissed! There was some justice eventually, however, because the prisoner was discovered to be an army deserter, so was handed to the military to be dealt with. One hopes the exhausted policeman was duly praised for his stalwart efforts! The Wallingford Police Station at the time was situated in St Mary’s Street. It had been built in 1856 as part of the new Berkshire Constabulary. Before that, The Wallingford Watch Committee (1836-56) had been responsible for preventing local crime: it had a Superintendent and two Constables to walk the streets, day and night, dealing with any misconduct. Although supplied with uniforms of a greatcoat, cape and glazed hat – plus a staff, lantern and ‘rattle’ – the watchmen had only limited success, so the new police force was much welcomed in 1856. The new station had proper cells (removing the need for the old town lock-up beneath the Town Hall) and was marked by a blue light outside. The police were more effective in dealing with both crime and vagrancy; any vagrant entering the town had to get a ticket at the police station before being sent on to the Wallingford Workhouse for a night’s lodging. In 1930 the police station was relocated to the old memorial hospital building in Reading Road, (next to the 17th century almshouses). That was replaced with a modern building in the 1950s but recently it was closed down and we are now, once more, without our own police station. Let's hope there are no more trouser thieves about.