Obituary: 'Bobby-on-the-beat' who was quick on his feet dies aged 86

Peter Hadlett as a traffic police officer outside County Hall in Norwich during the early 1970s

Peter Hadlett as a traffic police officer outside County Hall in Norwich during the early 1970s - Credit: Supplied

The daughter of a police officer who began his career as a “typical bobby-on-the-beat" has paid tribute following his death at the age of 86. 

Peter Hadlett joined Norfolk Constabulary on October 11, 1955, and was quick to earn the nickname “Spadger Hadlett”. 

The Norfolk term is used to describe a house sparrow – always quick on its feet. 

Combined with oodles of ability, Mr Hadlett would go on to have a successful career inspiring others who followed in his footsteps. 

Peter William Thomas Hadlett was born on June 21, 1935, in London. The longest day of the year - “and it was,” his mother would often remind him. 

Growing up as an only child in the Wembley area, where his parents married, he was idolised by his seamstress mother, Ellen, known as Nellie or Mrs H, who made many of his clothes and dressed him immaculately. 

Peter Hadlett, aged three, with his parents in Wembley

Peter Hadlett, aged three, with his parents in Wembley. His mother always dressed him smartly, which had an impact throughout his life as he always dressed immaculately - Credit: Supplied

He was also doted on by his father, who worked in the telecommunications industry. As a result of his father’s profession, the family was not evacuated during the Second World War and remained in London. 

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Mr Hadlett attended Wembley House Preparatory School, before moving to Lyon Hall Preparatory School in 1941 at a cost of just over five pounds and four shillings per term for him to attend.  

He later attended the private Boy’s High School Harrow and brought home school reports describing him as “having ability but not paying attention”. The former attribute became a gift he showed in his police career and his expertise as a police driving instructor. 

When he was 17, Mr Hadlett’s father retired. He bought and renovated two joined cottages in Frettenham, north of Norwich, before relocating the family. Here, Mr Hadlett began working as an insurance clerk at Norwich Union, but it was said he “hated being stuck behind a desk”. 

Peter Hadlett, at the age of 18, in 1955, during his National Service in the RAF

'Smiling and immaculately dressed in his uniform' - Peter Hadlett, at the age of 18, in 1955, during his National Service in the RAF - Credit: Supplied

It was during his National Service in 1953 with the RAF in Cyprus, that he had something of a calling.   

His only child, daughter Nicky Crebbin, said: “He loved it. In fact, he really enjoyed all of his life. He always loved wearing a uniform and took pride in wearing one.” 

When he joined the force in 1955, he spent a short time in Cromer, the place where he met and later married Edna Ann Graveling in 1958. He then moved to cover the Brooke patch, south of Norwich. The couple divorced during the 1980s. 

Peter Hadlett with his daughter Nicky as a baby and her mother Edna Ann Graveling

Peter Hadlett with his daughter Nicky as a baby and her mother Edna Ann Graveling - Credit: Supplied

The family lived in the police house there, which is where they welcomed Nicky in 1964, and when Peter became a “typical bobby-on-the-beat”. He was later stationed in Loddon around 1968. During this time, the family lived in a bungalow in Chedgrave. 

Mrs Crebbin said: “Those were the days when policemen joined the force, they were given an old-fashioned typewriter, a police whistle and a black crossbar bicycle – Dad would often ride me on the crossbar sat on a cushion. 

“He then moved to traffic policing based in Norwich and began working with traffic vehicles.  

“From a young child Dad always wanted something with wheels on, he told me he particularly liked Dinkey toys. He was so proud to be involved with the traffic side of the force.” 

Peter Hadlett, pictured during the late 1980s, was a civilian police driving instructor

Peter Hadlett, pictured during the late 1980s, was a civilian police driving instructor, a career he started as a police officer driving instructor before the school was made civilian - Credit: Supplied

In 1975, he qualified as an advanced driving instructor and took up a post at the police driving school at Norfolk County Hall, where he “taught loads of police” to drive. 

“He was so good at this job," she added.  

“He was not blessed with patience, but was an exceptionally calm and respected learner with advanced driver students, never raising his voice or becoming angry.  

“He was well respected by police colleagues, students, and the police driving instructors he worked with who became his friends. 

“He always wanted to help people, support and guide others.  

“He was just a real character, really fun, and loved playing jokes on people. A previous colleague said to me that they never saw him without a smile on his face and a devilish look in his eye.” 

Peter Hadlett, aged 76, at his daughter's wedding blessing on September 24, 2011, at Elsing church

Peter Hadlett, aged 76, at his daughter's wedding blessing on September 24, 2011, at Elsing church - Credit: Supplied

Previous to this, in 1973 he became a Ministry of Defence cadet officer at Langley School, achieving the rank of Captain. He became instrumental in running the Combined Cadet Force at the school with Major David "Nobby" Clarke. 

He was also a long-serving Freemason, becoming a grandmaster of two lodges.   

Mr Hadlett died on March 26, 2022, following a stay at Sanford House, Dereham. As well as his daughter, son-in-law and grandson, he leaves behind his partner of 40 years, Dora, and his extended family.  

Peter Hadlett, aged 74, with his partner Dora (right) and daughter Nicky (right) at Newmarket races in 2009

Peter Hadlett, aged 74, with his partner Dora (right) and daughter Nicky (left) at Newmarket races in 2009 - Credit: Supplied

His funeral took place on April 13. Donations were raised in his memory to The Norfolk Constabulary Benevolent Fund via ivanfisher.co.uk or sent care of Ivan Fisher Independent Funeral Home, Norton House, 17 Park Drive, Hethersett, Norwich, NR9 3EN.

Peter Hadlett, aged 76, at his daughter's wedding blessing on September 24, 2011, at Elsing church

Peter Hadlett, aged 76, at his daughter's wedding blessing on September 24, 2011, at Elsing church - Credit: Supplied