Friday, 3 February 2012

An 'Avertisseur de Police' - a forgotten relic?

This rather strange looking object, on the very limits of the city, is an ‘avertisseur de Police’. Before telephones were widely installed across Paris, these machines allowed witnesses to crimes or accidents to contact the nearest police station.

This news report published in the newspaper Le Soir in 1939 explains how they were used;
 
« D'un coup de coude énergique, M. Moreau, balayeur municipal, fit sauter la glace de l'avertisseur de police ; Allo, Police-Secours ?... Un cadavre dans un sac ! Ici devant le 88, boulevard de La Chapelle ! » (With a vigourous swing of his elbow, Mr Moreau, a city street cleaner, broke the glass on the police call box: ‘Hello Police? A body in a bag ! Here in front of 88 Boulevard de La Chapelle’)
 

Looking at the object, situated here on the Carrefour Bineau, just at the entrance to Neuilly sur Seine, it would seem that you broke the glass (long since gone here of course), pressed the button and communicated via the grills beneath and on the ides.

Why this particular avertisseur is still standing here is not clear, but strangley enough it is situated opposite another relic from the past - an Octroi tax building I previously mentioned on this blog. My guess therefore would be that it was left behind when city limits shifted, and that nobody since has wanted to take responsibility for its removal.

Now it remains as a picturesque reminder of a non-connected past which those under 25 will probably struggle to even imagine!

7 comments:

Starman said...

I hope whoever is in charge of relics will leave this standing. Or, at the very least, move it to a musée.

Owen said...

You find the craziest things ! Never heard of these...

Peter said...

I heard of this one, but never understood where to find it. You found it! Using the link, I also just learnt about these smaller octroi offices. Thanks!!

Anne said...

You have a great eye! The corners of Washington, DC are dotted with a similar relic and they are referred to as call boxes. Happily, there is a movement afoot to restore them and make them into small works of art. http://www.culturaltourismdc.org/things-do-see/trails-tours/art-call

Thérèse said...

Historic monument!

krf said...

In some cities in the U.S., there were two sets, one for police and one for the fire department. I remember seeing them in Milwaukee in the '50s.

Red_Cardinal said...

Just yesterday I watched the film "Maigret Tend un Piege" (staring the great Jean Gabin) in which one of these features prominently in the opening minutes.

Nice to see one still in situ.

We used to have them in the UK too.

(I'm a great fan of both Simenon's Maigret and Jean Gabin so the the film was doubleplusgood!) :)

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