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Unsung hero: Former traffic cop who restores the Met's old cars
6:00am Sunday 2nd March 2014 in News
A former traffic cop who has saved vintage police cars and motorbikes, lovingly restoring them to the roads is this week’s Unsung Hero.
Jon Dorsett not only rescued the collection from being crushed, but refurbished and expanded it.
Speaking at a convoy to Hendon to mark the closure of the Hampton traffic garage Mr Dorsett said: “I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and overheard a conversation.”
But Detective Sergeant John Hames, of the Hampton road traffic investigation unit, said: “Without John I don’t think the fleet would exist as it does in its current state. His skills have been invaluable”.
Police sergeant Roy Seal set out in 1985 setting up a museum for traffic equipment in his spare time without official Metropolitan Police acknowledgement.
But in 1995 he retired and the collection, at a traffic garage in Catford, south London, was on the verge of being destroyed. Mr Dorsett, along with fellow volunteer John Murray, stepped in to rescue them and move them to Hampton.
The immobile vehicles have been restored to roadworthiness and they now tour fairs and schools.
Volunteer and ex-special inspector Anne Johnstone, who has taken the vehicles to Goodwood, said: “It breaks down barriers between the police and public. People come over to talk about a vehicle and then chat to the police.”
Mr Dorsett’s technical expertise has proved vital, particularly to the star of the collection, a 1948 Wolseley which was used in the Queen’s Coronation in 1953.
When Mr Dorsett first discovered the car it was nothing more than a collection of rusting parts spread across Met garages around London.
But he and Mr Murray spent five years restoring the two-tonne beauty, lobbying the Met for funds. The collection is now recognised as the Met’s historical vehicle collection.
The sad final procession to Hendon is the culmination of thousands of hours of passionate work. Mr Dorsett said: “What can I say? I’m a classic car enthusiast”.
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