It is recorded that in July 1843 the ‘Justices of the Quarter Sessions’ resolved that a Rural Police Force be appointed for the county of Carmarthenshire with the following rates of pay: Chief Constable £ 300 p.a., plus expenses, Superintendent £120 p.a., plus expenses, Sergeant £1-2-0. a week and a Constable £ 1 a week. There is no doubt, many more facts about law and order of the county available in the Carmarthenshire Archives Office, but how did the actual police of long ago appear to the people of Llanelli? The answer can be found from old papers in the Llanelli Reference Library. Written by an unknown ‘Morfa Workman’ on his childhood recollections, he describes the constabulary of the town in the 1860s:
In the old days the Bobbies were known as the ‘Beaver Hat Brigade’. The sergeant was William Lewis who lived in Stepney Place, he was a fine old man with grey locks and he always wore white gloves, he was highly respected by all classes and possessed one of the best gardens in Llanelly. The fruit and vegetables were of a very fine quality. The Old Brigade numbered five. They were dressed in blue uniform and a high beaver hat, with a shiny leather roof to keep the sun and rain out. The coat was a swallow tail pattern, with two pockets behind one for the truncheon and one for the handcuffs. Around the waist they wore a big wide strap, which would have made a suitable belly-band for a horse weighing about two tons. The brass buckle on the strap was big enough for a gaol door knocker.
The author of the narrative continues with a description of the men themselves.
One of the Big Five was Mr Walters: he was big and possessed a voice like a foghorn. He was quite a good sort, though his cane struck terror in the hearts of all small boys. If he touched you with that Magic Wand you would not sit down for hours, if there was any mischief afoot and one of the boys spotted Mr. Walters, he’d shout Heigh up! Wat’s coming! and then there was a scamper. Mr Williams was another of the Old Brigade. He was even bigger than Walters. He was a very good sport and was never in a hurry to catch the boys .He was very stout and was called “Apple Dumpling”. When he appeared on the scene, the shout went up “Dumpling’s coming” and another scamper announced another rout of the lads. Then there was Mr. J. Thomas, a tall thin man. He was so thin he could almost hide behind a lamp post. On many occasions the boys failed to notice his approach, and only became aware of his proximity when he made his presence felt through the magic wand. Mr. Thomas was known to the boys as “Jack Sprat”.
Mr Dunn, otherwise known as “Pat” was also a very good sport, but the boys didn’t risk too much when he was about. And lastly there was Sergeant B. Lewis, who was stationed at the dock. He was a very fine fellow and greatly respected. I’d also like to mention another name, Captain Phillips who occasionally visited this town; he was the Superintendent of Police.
It is likely that these policemen were based at the old Police Station that once stood in Market Street, next to the Market Street School.
Notes and Citations
- The Carmarthenshire Historian. 1972. Vol. IX (Ave Atque Vale) P 28
- The Llanelly Mercury, Thu 12 Jan 1933. 'Llanelly in the Old Days' by Old Morfa WorkmanLCH0033