HOW many people could actually tell you what police boxes were?
"I can remember when we were going home from school and a flasher approached me and a friend," Pat O'Brien told the Sun, blushing, "and Mum took us to the police box at Merrylands station to report it and we had to squeeze into the box."
Ms O'Brien of the Holroyd Local History Research group said the police box was a little larger than a telephone box.
It contained a telephone linked directly with other call boxes between Parramatta and Liverpool, allowing patrolling officers to keep in touch with each another.
From 1935 to 1965, the miniature police station was also the point of call for anyone needing to contact the police in Merrylands.
"There was one at Guildford, too," Ms O'Brien recalled. "They virtually followed the railway line."
The major problem with the police box was that is wasn't very practical.
As Alderman William Campbell complained in 1941, "Calls to a telephone box could not be made if the police or anybody else were using the [single] line."
By Peter Wilson's day the police had radios in their cars.
"You'd go to VKG," he said.
Mr Wilson of South Wentworthville was stationed at Merrylands — then known as "26 division headquarters" — from 1977 to 1994.
"It wasn't a very busy station when I started," he said.
"Everything was handwritten and the firearm was a standard [Webley &] Scott .38 revolver, which holds six bullets.
"The cars look a little different but otherwise you still had the cage in the back."
What hasn't changed is the feeling you have when you see your first corpse, he said.
"The first time I saw a murdered man I was 35," Mr Wilson said.
"We were coming back to the station and as we were halfway down the street there was what we thought a drunk in the middle of the road and after stopping to investigate we realised it wasn't a drunk at all, but someone who had been shot.
"We ended up getting the fella inside the house who'd shot him. That's something that stands out in my memory — that and suicides."
As part of its 150th anniversary celebrations, the NSW Police Force invites the public to visit Merrylands police station and pass on a written message to police, past and present.
Message books are available in each of the state’s 80 local area commands. On December 31, 2012, they will be collected and compiled into a book for historical safekeeping.
DID YOU KNOW?
1788 John Smith, a free settler, became the first recorded police officer in Australia
1898 Merrylands gets its first policeman
1964 A two-storey police station is opened in Miller Street, Merrylands