December 2022: The Old Police Cells Museum
The Old Police Cells Museum, located in the basement of Brighton Town Hall, was established to preserve, care for, and share fascinating objects of Sussex Police heritage. It provides an opportunity to visit Brighton Borough’s main police station for the period 1832 to 1967 and learn about the murder of Chief Constable Henry Solomon in 1844, see some of the old cells with their graffiti from the Mods and Rockers era and explore the collection.
Students of all ages visit us to learn about the development of policing and our education tours supports areas of the curriculum such as Crime and Punishment, Local and Social History and Sociology. With students, as with all our visitors, we encourage discussion about the causes of crime, the difficulties faced by police forces and officers and some of the tensions which exist in community relations. We see part of our role as a police museum to bring the community and the police together to explore contemporary issues as well as investigating the past.
The collection here is unique to Sussex Policing. Highlights from the collection include the model of the bombed Grand Hotel, which was used at the trial of the bombers. Along with this, visitors also have the opportunity to see the registration card used by Patrick Magee (the man found guilty of the Brighton bombing) to check into the hotel under a false identity.
The Old Police Cells Museum also holds uniform and equipment spanning over 100 years of policing and a unique collection of truncheons and tipstaffs, one of the largest in the country. Notably, the museum cares for the Caffyn Collection of truncheons. The Caffyn Collection was formed by Brigadier Sir Edward Caffyn during the late 20th century. It is an important collection of (mainly) 19th century items and was donated to Sussex Police Authority in 1992 by Lady Caffyn following her husband’s death in 1990. The collection is made up of decorated truncheons and tipstaffs that were originally issued to police officers before warrant cards were in use. Carrying one of these truncheons around signified to the public that the owner was an official police officer.
The museum also collects contemporary items and one of the recent donations received by Sussex Police are Pride epaulettes. These also show the new gender-neutral numbering system Sussex Police now use to identify their officers. Receiving these, along with the LGBTQIA+ lanyard that officers also wear, have provided an opportunity to explore the relationship between the police and the LGBTQIA+ community.
The museum is open Saturdays for booked tours. These can be booked via the website. Education tours for students are available on Mondays. If you would like to contact the museum, please email. The collection can be viewed on The Old Police Cells Museum website.