It probably wasn't the best line of defence to offer up to the magistrates.
When Henry Jackson, 30 a smith at the GWR Works, appeared at Swindon Petty Sessions in November 1881 charged with being drunk and disorderly, he claimed that 'he meant to be locked up to see what sort of beds they had at the station, as the last one he had was a wooden one.'
It's to be hoped the accommodation at Swindon Police Station came up to Jackson's exacting standards. In 1873 the new station at the top of Eastcott Road (then called Eastcott Lane) replaced the old one in Devizes Road, built some 20 years earlier.
Before the 1850s Swindon had only a lock up at the top of Newport Street. Built in c1762 this 8ft square, dark and dingy structure was less than secure. In the 1840s a railway navvy was liberated by friends who dug a hole under the door and then burned the building to the ground.
The new purpose built station at the top of Eastcott Road had accommodation for a superintendent, an inspector, a sergeant and 8 constables; a public court and 8 cells, although at the time of the 1881 census there could have been barely room to swing a cat o' nine tails in the new station.
Superintendent George North, his wife and five children plus a servant; Inspector Worthy Porter and his wife and nine children and Sergeant Thomas Rebbick with his wife and their four children all managed to squeeze in - oh and there were two prisoners, William Mills and George Barker.
By 1889 the Swindon branch of the Wiltshire Constabulary had increased to a superintendent, an inspector, two sergeants and 16 constables and in 1891 the building was enlarged on the South Street side.
With a population in excess of 45,000 in 1904 the Superintendent at Swindon was given a pay rise to reflect the heavy workload.
The station in Eastcott Road was closed and demolished in 1973, replaced by a new divisional headquarters on Fleming Way, which has since also been demolished.
The £19.5 million Gablecross Station opened at Swindon in 2005, though whether the beds are wooden or not remains unknown.
Wiltshire Constabulary was established in 1839.
Four superintendents were appointed at an annual salary of £100 exclusive of clothing but with a horse. A further nine superintendents received £75 per annum, minus the horse.
Constables were required to be under 40 years old, 5ft 6ins tall, literate, numerate and "to be free from any bodily complaint, of strong constitution and generally intelligent." Pay was 17s 6d (87p worth today about £59).
Photograph 1911: Swindon Division - Police Station, Eastcott Road, Swindon by William Hooper courtesy of Mr P.A. Williams see www.flickr.com/photos/swindonlocal/
Police Station 1966 courtesy of Swindon Viewpoint see http://www.swindonviewpoint.com/