When Howard Webb was a full-time police officer, West Bar Station was the place every Sheffield bobby wanted to be posted.
And now Howard has returned to see why the new Hampton by Hilton hotel - the station in refurbished form - is expected to prove equally attractive for guests.
Gone are the days of cells and panda cars, functional offices and fingerprint files.
Instead the top football referee - who worked as a South Yorkshire Police sergeant at West Bar for eight years - got the chance to see the Hilton’s plush hotel rooms, modern gym facilities and restaurant endorsed by Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White.
He was joined by enquiries desk assistant Janet Brown - the last person to lock up the station before it underwent its multi-million pound refurbishment.
Howard, currently back with the police in a community engagement role, said it was ‘nice to see the building put to good use’.
“It was one of those iconic places in the police, where everyone wanted to be sent to,” he said. “It’s difficult to visualise where some of the things were, looking at it now, but I have quite a few nice memories of the place. It would have been nice to have had a bar!”
Howard said the rooms were a far cry from the basic accommodation provided to some young officers when he joined the force.
“It was like a barracks - you got an allowance and somewhere to stay if you had no living arrangements,” he said.
A particular staircase in the hotel also brought back memories: “We used to time ourselves running down the stairs as a fitness challenge.”
Janet said she thought the transformation was ‘absolutely marvellous’.
Tomorrow the hotel is being transported back to its days as a police station for a special ‘Whodunnit’-themed opening party.