Best of the police on show

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 06:46 22/01/2013
Dannevirke International Police Museum - Maureen Lyon
WARWICK SMITH/Fairfax NZ
Maureen Lyon with the new acquisition for the Dannevirke International Police Museum, a Chrysler police car from California.

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Dannevirke’s International Police Museum has been given a lift with the arrival and revival of some retired police vehicles.

The museum is home to a rare collection of police memorabilia, including a range of international police equipment and uniforms sourced from Europe, Asia and America, as well as a New Zealand armed offenders squad uniform, replica weaponry and vehicle fleet of more than half a dozen cars and motorcycles.

Since the new year, four more cars have joined the museum’s ranks.

They are a 1982 Holden Commodore, which was one of the first white police cars on New Zealand roads, a 1991 Ford Falcon dog van, which has been stripped and rebuilt, a 1998 Ford Falcon, fashioned as a New South Wales police car, and a 1997 Chrysler, which was a Californian highway patrol car.

They may not  be considered vintage just yet, but the museum’s owners and curators, Bruce and Maureen Lyon, say they are special vehicles they spent months tracking down.

‘‘You don’t come across them any more these days; they’re all long gone from service and they’re hard to find – we hunted for them,’’ Mr Lyon said.

The husband and wife bought the museum site in 2010, when Mr Lyon – a former Hamilton senior sergeant – decided after 36 years in the force it was time for something fresh.

So the pair bought the high-profile building with a ‘‘colourful history’’ in Dannevirke’s main street in 2010.

It was once a brothel owned by bordello Promiscuous Girlz before the Lyons converted it into the police museum and  a bed-and-breakfast motel.

‘‘If you’re going to leave the police, you may as well do something original and buy a brothel,’’ Mr Lyon said.

Considered a Dannevirke landmark, the building was the town’s former Public Trust Office, became a brothel and is now a police museum.

But it could all be on the move soon with the building going on the market for $440,000 last year, as the Lyons seek a new start.

The two-storey building has a five-bedroom apartment upstairs, as well as two lounges, two bathrooms, and a downstairs two-bedroom flat with an office and the large multiroom area that houses the museum.

But it’s just the building up for grabs and not the museum, Mr Lyon said.

‘‘We’ll relocate the museum, whether it’s in Dannevirke or Palmerston North, who knows, it could go anywhere, you’ll have to wait and see.’’

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Over the years, the couple have spent more than $100,000 gathering gear in celebration of law enforcement and for Mr Lyon it’s an investment in his passion.

 

‘‘It’s just a collection I started off. The idea was to make it so other people could enjoy it, too.’’

- Manawatu Standard

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