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The Final Years of Cardiff City Police: Wordcatcher History

The Final Years of Cardiff City Police: Wordcatcher History

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The Final Years of Cardiff City Police: Wordcatcher History

Length:
290 pages
4 hours
Released:
Sep 25, 2019
ISBN:
9781789421392
Format:
Book

Description

In 1969, Cardiff's own police force was amalgamated with others to become South Wales Police. This book recounts reminiscences of officers who worked the beat every day. John F. Wake is just one of those cops who trod the streets and knew the people of the dockland area and to the south of central Cardiff. The city, indeed the country, was changing in the sixties and new challenges faced those who had to manage policing the population. This book reflects the day-to-day life of police officers at a turbulent time in our social history.

The demolition of Tiger Bay in Cardiff corresponded with the final years of the Cardiff City Police, the force soon entering into an amalgamation of constabularies. Street life in 1960's Cardiff was colourful to say the least and the only protection an officer had was a truncheon and a whistle. Cardiff police did not even carry handcuffs. The I.T. revolution was decades away.

Follow Cardiff City Police officers on their beats and in their police stations in this informal look at 1950 and 60s life. Anecdotes vary from The Beatles' visits to street prostitution. Why was it called Tiger Bay? And do you remember the iconic pubs not only in the 'bay' but within Cardiff's boundaries?

PROLOGUE
1 THE FIRST POLICE CHIEF: JEREMIAH BOX STOCKDALE (1807-70)
STOCKDALE VERSUS FISHER
CHARTIST MARCHES
'THE IRON COPPER' - A TRIBUTE TO STOCKDALE
2 THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF CARDIFF'S OWN FORCE
3 A RHONDDA BOY'S PATH TO BECOMING A CARDIFF CITY POLICE OFFICER
4 'A' DIVISION: CENTRAL
THE CENTRAL CELLS
5 'A' DIVISION: BUTETOWN / TIGER BAY
6 IRISH NEWTOWN
THE IRISH CLUB
THE QUEBEC
7 'B' DIVISION: CANTON, LLANDAFF, GRANGETOWN, AND ELY
GRANGETOWN
LLANDAFF
8 'C' DIVISION: ROATH, SPLOTT, CATHAYS, LLANRUMNEY, AND LLANISHEN
CATHAYS POLICE STATION
9 LICENSED PREMISES, PROSTITUTION AND THE SALVATION ARMY HOSTEL
POLICE AND LICENSED PREMISES
PROSTITUTION
SALVATION ARMY HOSTEL
10 OTHER FORCES IN CARDIFF, TRAINING AND MOTOR PATROL
OTHER FORCES IN CARDIFF
TRAINING SCHOOLS
MOTOR PATROL
11 THE POLICEWOMEN OF CARDIFF
12 DRUNK DRIVERS: BEFORE THE BREATH TEST
13 POLICE STORES, THE NEW CURRY HOUSES, TROLLEY BUSES, & SPECIAL DUTIES
THE CARDIFF CITY POLICE STORES
THE NEW CURRY HOUSES
SPECIAL DUTIES
TROLLEY BUSES AND THE POLICE
14 THE WALES MOBILE COLUMN, MODS AND ROCKERS, AND RADIOS
WALES' MOBILE COLUMN
MODS AND ROCKERS
OLD-AGE COPPERS, NEW-AGE RADIOS
15 THE LAST YEARS OF THE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DEPARTMENT (CID)
16 ATTITUDES TOWARDS RACE AND HOMOSEXUALITY, AND THE COURTS
RACE AND HOMOSEXUALITY
ANTI-POLICE ATTITUDES
HOMOSEXUALITY
THE CARDIFF COURTS
17 WHERE IS IT? AND WHY WAS IT CALLED TIGER BAY?
18 VIVIAN THOMAS BROOK
A PERSONAL FAMILY TRIBUTE TO A CARDIFF CITY POLICE OFFICER BY JOHN BROOK AND DEE DUNHEIM
ENDNOTE

Released:
Sep 25, 2019
ISBN:
9781789421392
Format:
Book

About the author

Talked on Wales and it's attractions around the world from Washington DC to Dubai. The author of plays performed at various Cardiff locations and the Edinburgh Festival.  VIP-chauffeured many world famous people on their visits to Wales.  Joined the Cardiff City Police in 1965 and posted to Bute Street (Tiger Bay) police station. Was a Detective Inspector in South Wales Police. John has recently undertaken lectures on his books, 'THE CRUEL STREETS REVISITED' and 'CARDIFF. THOSE CRUEL AND SAVAGE STREETS'.


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The Final Years of Cardiff City Police - John F. Wake

Prologue

Some will agree and some will disagree with the opinions and views in this book. Everyone sees events in contrasting ways. It is an insight into a Cardiff City Police officer’s life in the 1960s. The incidents outlined in this book are memories from officers who served in the force. I have tried to verify each story but, more often than not, it is all encompassed within an individual’s memory. It is not the intention to identify any person involved in any related incident whether dead or alive. Opinions expressed in the book are those of the author and are not the opinions of others unless stated.

Prostitutes today are called sex workers. Political correctness was decades away, in all levels of society, when the events of this book took place. The terms used reflect the era and are not meant to offend. It is an informal insight into what we may now perceive as an old-fashioned police force at work in Cardiff, unrecognisable to today’s society.

This is the story of the last years of the Cardiff City Police in the 1960s. They possessed hardly any modern equipment and worked from antiquated or condemned police stations under convoluted and severe attitudes to discipline. These final years of the Force coincided with the final years of the infamous Tiger Bay area of Cardiff. It was also the swansong for much-loved city centre pubs; The Sandon, The Eagle, The Taff Vale, The Marchioness of Bute, The Moulders, and The Lifeboat. Demolition orders were signed and the end was drawing near. All of this was overseen by a police force still trying to break into the modern era and struggling hard to do so. It was all a tumultuous final ‘wag of the dying dog’s tail’ but to no avail. Inner city areas such as Roath, Splott, Adamsdown, Riverside, and Grangetown were to retain their character but a new kind of existence was evolving with new attitudes. The old police stations of Llandaff, Grangetown, Bute Street, Clifton Street, and Crwys Road were the centres of many Cardiff communities, where the officers were as well known as family members.

We will examine how a city was policed in the 1960s, the intimate method, the situations encountered, and how they were dealt with. We will walk the streets of Cardiff as a police officer and see the world through their eyes.

The Cardiff City Police did not always come into contact with the good, it was usually the bad and it was mainly during the hours of darkness. The inner city areas were diverse and at many times at odds with each other. The River Taff, the Great Western Railway tracks and their embankments unwittingly became the great divides. On the northern side, the bustling city centre, on the southern the docks, ‘Little Ireland’, ‘Rat Island’, and Tiger Bay. On the western side and over the river were Grangetown and Riverside, on the eastern side of the Queen Street railway, Roath, Cathays, and Splott.

There were people who would not enter Tiger Bay as tales of lurid happenings and violent behaviour made them apprehensive in the extreme. Those who ventured to walk the streets, still talk of the day they walked under Bute Street railway bridge and into the colourful world of Butetown by night. Memories of the Custom House pub and its 'girls’ still linger in the psyche of many a man who dared to enter Tiger Bay. On a corner, even in the 1960s, you may have seen a Cardiff City policeman keeping law and order and calling on his trusty whistle if in trouble. The impoverished Force could not even afford handcuffs.

These were the last years of the Cardiff City Police, soon gone forever, forced into an amalgamation with other constabularies. All around the sounds of demolition could be heard as old Cardiff became new. When we remember the close Docks and Central communities of Butetown, Tiger Bay, Newtown, Edwardstown, Sandon, and Frederick Street, we think of the intense ownership the residents felt. Many of their churches and places of worship have now gone, demolished in the endless race to modernise and make things ‘better’. The majority of these residents were family-orientated and law-abiding people. They were wonderful people to know, they were wonderful people to police.


The author outside Bute Street Police Station examining a vandalised car.

1

The First Police Chief: Jeremiah Box Stockdale (1807-70)

Jeremiah Box Stockdale was born into a publishing family in 1807 and grew up on the fringes of the London establishment. His mother’s maiden name was Box. His father, John Joseph, was an activist and not popular with certain sections of the establishment. His news magazine, True Brito, even got Mr Stockdale Senior into trouble, becoming a prisoner of the English state.

There are many negative reports about young Jeremiah’s father and his activities, not for dissemination here, but they might be part of the reason that kept young Jeremiah out of the family business. The most repeated cause was that he did not want to be confined to printing rooms all his working life.

His association with certain females in the aristocracy may have helped him into a senior officer’s rank in a brand-new army unit. This unit wasn’t established to fight and was more of a pseudo-ambassadorial role to assist another European royal family. The family in question was the Spanish, but ultimately it all went wrong, and the young Jeremiah returned to London.

He decided, or perhaps it was decided for him, to enter the ranks of the embryonic Metropolitan Police around 1834. He must have been one heck of a newcomer as, at the age of twenty-four, he applied and was given the role of Chief of Police in the new Cardiff Borough Constabulary. One wonders why, or how, he got the job? It may be one of three reasons:

1. someone pulled strings and got him the job;

2. Cardiff was such a small and unappealing posting that no-one wanted it; or

3. his stature, (he was 6’ and strongly built), and charisma put him firmly in the leader category.

It may have been a combination of all three.

Stockdale moved to Cardiff and started work but had only two constables, it was he who was to appoint more. It is interesting that one of those two constables later became Cardiff’s Town Crier and three decades later marched in Jeremiah’s funeral cortège. Constables of the parishes had been the administrators of law and order prior to Stockdale’s arrival.

Stockdale was the first to administer King William IV’s Act of Parliament giving powers to boroughs. It was this Act, dated 1837, that Stockdale must have studied, amongst others, not only to give him legal powers, but to understand the Cardiff beat. The latter must have given him an even more dynamic vision of what was ahead; confrontation and criminality.


Cardiff Town Hall and Police Courts, a place Jeremiah would have known well.

It was the Second Marquess of Bute who wielded considerable power in early Victorian Cardiff, and he obviously wanted a strong but compliant leader. That he got with Jeremiah Box Stockdale.

The Borough Aldermen gave Stockdale a gaol in St Mary Street, a police station in the nearby town hall and funds for up to four constables. Several decades later, and still under the auspices of Stockdale, this had risen to around sixty.

Uniform was a potent symbol of authority and Stockdale, who was used to looking the part during his short military service, wanted a symbolic brand for his police force. He decided on a blue uniform trimmed with red, a grand hat, and, most striking of all, a large belt for his sword. He knew that most of the population were subordinated to the power of a leader’s look. He also would have been aware that on the dark side of life he would be seen as a popinjay and a feather in the cap of anyone who could bring him down. And many subsequently tried.

Stockdale was interested in women and appeared successful in gaining their interest. One has only to imagine the man in his compelling uniform using his powerful position to impress not only his superiors, but all around him, especially the ladies.

He also had a little side-line that kept his salary topped up. He was allowed to be the landlord of a pub in Kingsway (then North Street).

The town of Cardiff was growing quickly, with a population explosion that has not been equalled since. Tens of thousands of immigrants flooded in; men, women, and children. Poverty was rampant amongst the working classes with drunkenness, prostitution, crime, and violence making a police officer’s job a dangerous one.

Even in those early days of his employment as Chief of Police, Stockdale was seen as a man who did not suffer fools gladly. He led from the front, which gained him great respect. He did not like injustice or cruelty directed at the poor just because they were poor.

Another Stockdale role was as a Relieving Officer under the Poor Law Union. Relief of the poor was carried out by parishes grouped into poor law unions. He was classified as Assistant to the Relieving Officer but, on the examination of Stockdale’s working practices, it is hard to believe he willingly took the role of assistant to anyone.

The Relieving Officer would examine the claims of individuals who wanted to enter the workhouse. There could be numerous reasons: poverty, pregnancy, ill-health, no job therefore no money, incapable of work, etc. Stockdale, it was said, did not like malingerers or people he believed were deceiving him. It was totally the opposite with people he genuinely believed were down on their luck or genuine in their circumstances, to these he was openly generous and helpful. To the suspected malingerer he was brutal in his condemnation and they were rejected in no uncertain terms.

In the early part of his tenure as Chief of Police, a new part of Cardiff was giving cause for concern. There was such an outbreak of lawlessness that something had to be done and apparently it was the Marquess of Bute who was complaining the loudest. It was not him who was the subject of crime but his brand-new West Dock.

There were rich pickings to be had there by criminals with the new breed of sailor and more especially the ships’ captains themselves. A team of men were targeting ships’ captains during the hours of darkness. Their demeanour and dress pointed to their rank and the criminals took advantage of this by assaulting them and stealing their valuables, mostly the contents of their wallets. It was 1840, and the new West Dock was attracting more and more shipping. The situation of the robberies could not continue unchecked.

Stockdale decided to dress as a sailor and, complete with a sou’wester, he paraded up and down near the West Dock at night. There was no street lighting, other than oil lamps in strategic positions on the short route from dock to town. Stockdale became aware of noises behind him and on looking around he saw three men running at him. One man got to him first and Stockdale turned and hit him with full force to his face, shattering his nose. The man screamed as Stockdale called on the other men to take him on at their peril. They turned on their heels and ran. The injured man was conveyed to St Mary Street Police Station and thrown unceremoniously into a cell. He ultimately appeared in court and was sentenced to seven years’ penal servitude.

Stockdale was soon to meet the lady who was to become his wife. He had often noticed her near her home in Trinity Street, close to St John’s Church in the centre of Cardiff. The lady in question was Margaret Kibbey and after a short courtship the couple married in 1841. It was to be a fruitful marriage, Jeremiah and Margaret raising six children. Unfortunately, by the time of Jeremiah’s death only three children had survived. His wife had also passed away many years before.

Jeremiah Box Stockdale was always at the vanguard of law and order in those troubled yet stimulating times. He remained the leader of the Cardiff Borough Constabulary for thirty-four years, seeing the town grow from a quiet backwater to a major sea port and all the criminality that came with it.

Stockdale versus Fisher

The story of Stockdale’s pursuit of Constable Fisher is one of the most enduring (but little-known) from nineteenth-century Cardiff. A London draper had heard about the fast-growing town of Cardiff and wanted to get a piece of the action. He moved, lock, stock and barrel to South Wales and set up a business in High Street, Cardiff, trading as Hurndall the Drapers. He sold large amounts of silk and similar products to be made into fine, ladies’ dresses. One night the shop was illegally entered and a considerable amount of stock was stolen. The crime was reported to the police and Stockdale ordered his men to keep their ears to the ground and look out for stolen fabric.

A few weeks later, Hurndall went along the street from his shop to the police station and asked to see Stockdale. He informed him that he had been told that many ladies walking past his shop were wearing dresses made from his stolen property. Enquiries were made, and it was ascertained that silk in large quantities was being sold in a local public house and the seller was none other than a police officer, Constable Fisher.

The errant officer heard that Stockdale was on his trail and caught the first train out of Cardiff and ended up in Salisbury, Wiltshire. With no wireless or telephone help, all crime transmissions were transmitted by mail. Somehow, Stockdale got to hear of Fisher’s location and caught a train to get him. This was early in the railway era it was opening up cities and towns to industry and job creation. Imagine Fisher’s face when suddenly Jeremiah Box Stockdale appeared. There was a scuffle but the Police Chief managed to get Fisher on a Cardiff-bound train. He handcuffed his wrists tightly together prior to the train setting off.

Fisher complained that the cuffs were too tight and his skin was being torn. Stockdale, who had great confidence in his own physical ability to control prisoners, opened the cuffs. What happened next was pure movie drama. When the train had slowed near the town of Bath, Fisher pushed Stockdale aside, opened the carriage door and leaped out. Stockdale caught hold of his prisoner’s coat as he jumped and both men rolled down an embankment. Fisher ran off shouting back to the dazed Stockdale, words to the effect, ‘You won’t get me, Stockdale’. In the fracas, Stockdale fractured his arm.

Jeremiah was enraged, so much so, that on his return to Cardiff he offered a reward of £20 for information leading to the arrest of Fisher. This was circulated by newspapers and news-sheets of the time.

Later, Scotland Yard detectives were informed of Fisher’s whereabouts and a letter was written to Stockdale in Cardiff. It was a classic case of revenge by a man whose lady friend had left him for Fisher. They set up home and called themselves man and wife. English detectives moved in to arrest Fisher at his home. He put up a fight and almost escaped detention. It is said that Stockdale showed himself and Fisher simply gave up.

Worse was to come for Fisher. After admitting offences of robbery and burglary, he was sentenced to fourteen years' penal servitude.

Chartist Marches

The Chartist marches and protests of 1839-40 were mostly centred on Newport but Cardiff Police had to look out, as the last thing they wanted was for the whole hullabaloo to extend into their town. Fortunately for Stockdale it did not.

The Chartists, in many people’s view, had a legitimate and honourable cause in attempting to bring a little fairness into society and the voting system. The thousands of supporters were met by all the forces of the state when they reached Newport. Stockdale found himself at the forefront once more, involved as he was in the arrest of one of the organisers. Zephaniah Williams was a wanted man. His part in the organisation of the uprising was seen to be of extreme importance and, if arrested, he would no doubt be sentenced to death. He managed to escape and went to ground. The Government put the massive sum of £100 as a reward to anyone giving information as to the whereabouts of Williams.

It was in Canton, Cardiff, that Stockdale gleaned the information from a resident that Williams was going to head out to sea and had been staying at the Sea Lock Hotel (a public house at canal-side near the sea lock gates that emptied into what is now Cardiff Bay). His intention was to gain access to a vessel named The Vintage and cross to France.

Stockdale disguised himself as a sailor and, drinking beer in the Sea Lock, he discovered the escape plan.

Stockdale, now knowing when Williams had boarded The Vintage, ordered his constables to get into a small boat and, with him giving the orders, they rowed into the River Taff in Cardiff Bay. The Vintage came into sight. Stockdale climbed on board and arrested Williams who was secreted in a cabin. Williams was conveyed back to the shore and then on to Newport.


Cardiff City Police Station Officer, John Blackburn, returns to where he worked for many years.

As if the job of Police Chief in Cardiff was not enough, Stockdale was in at the beginning of the 16th Bute Rifles. He held the rank of Lieutenant and then Captain Commandant. It was a Glamorgan-based unit and, in common with numerous other British volunteer detachments, was formed to be available should France flex its [her] muscles. This role was too much even for Jeremiah and he stood down to concentrate wholly on his Cardiff policing role.

He later appeared at Monmouth Assize charged, along with others, with treason offences. He was sentenced to death. He was to be hanged, drawn and quartered but the sentence was commuted. Zephaniah Williams was transported to what is now Tasmania and subsequently became a successful businessman.

Stockdale’s little troop of constables were not well-behaved. The Watch Committee heard tales of drunken behaviour and the frequenting of brothels that were springing up fast in Cardiff. Stockdale was marched in front of the Committee and told to clean up his act or else there would be a new Chief of Police.

But how could just a few officers, perhaps five, even hope to combat crime and lawlessness in the burgeoning town of Cardiff? The emerging areas of law-breaking, opium dens, brothels, disorderly houses, etc, were increasing, and it was imperative the force had more men. Battling between sailors from different ships was a constant problem. Knives and guns were used when feuds between foreign countries were played out between ships carrying conflicting state flags.

When a Russian ship found itself berthed adjacent to a Turkish ship, it was a recipe for disaster. It was the time of the Crimean War. Stockdale rushed to the scene just before the fully armed Turks were about to cut loose. He ordered the ships to be moved as far as possible from each other to either end of the dock. One ship he ordered to be unloaded quickly and leave and the other to be delayed. His quick intervention worked. For all his successes, he was always at the sharp end of a critic’s tongue. Between 1868-89 members of the Watch Committee were criticising their chief, perhaps for selfish reasons, as their businesses were being affected by crimes, particularly burglary. There were calls for Stockdale’s resignation. He told the officers of the Watch Committee in no uncertain terms that it was they who had to help him or else the situation would no doubt get

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