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Farewell, New May House

New May House and Arsenal Yard back in the early 70s

If you have walked along Arsenal Street lately you will have seen the green tarpaulin and bamboo scaffolding around the 27-year-old New May House, now being demolished to make way for the Police Headquarters Phase Three development.

New May House was built from 1971 to 1973 to replace the then May House in Gloucester Road which was more famous for its curries than as a police building. The new May House became fully operational in November 1973 after a plaque-unveiling and opening ceremony, at which Princess Alexandra and then Commissioner of Police Charles Sutcliffe officiated.

At the time, May House was considered to be a model of efficiency. Costing some $24 million, the 20-storey building mainly housed Headquarters Crime units, Communications and Transport, Personnel and Administration. It also had a lecture theatre, an officers' mess, a canteen and an indoor firing range which was modelled on the Federal Bureau of Investigation Headquarters firing range in the United States.

The start of demolition in January

However, over the years the Force advanced rapidly, especially in the information technology area. New May House became an outdated and inefficient complex which could not meet the Force's present and future needs. To upgrade it to modern standards would have cost about $230 million (1997 prices) which was not cost effective. It was therefore decided to demolish New May House and build a modern state-of-the-art building on the existing site and external carpark area, to cater for the Force's needs into the next century.

Most of the HQ Crime Units originally housed there were moved to larger, more modern officers within Arsenal House West Wing, while others were temporarily decanted into Arsenal and Caine Houses and various leased accommodation pending the completion of redevelopment in 2004, which would see all HQ units housed within Arsenal Yard.

"New May House will soon disappear," Chief Superintendent (Planning and Development) David Thomas said. "However, many officers will have fond memories of New May House. Therefore, parts of it such as some stone work and internal wooden banisters will be retained and incorporated into the new building. This will take us, a distinguished yet modern force, into the future."

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