Abertillery Police Stations and Court Houses.
In the mid 19th century the main Police Station, The County Constabulary was in Blaina. There were Police Officers in Abertillery at this time though they were not based in a station, they seemed to have been based in either their own home or in Police Houses in the town.
On Monday 2nd September 1849 one of the first reports of a Policeman in this area was Policeman Mr Samuel Addison, in Abertillery, he was at the White Horse Tavern, Cwmtillery and accidentally shot the Landlord Mr Daniel Jones in the arm with a six-barrelled pistol. I don’t know if Mr Addison was based here, Blaenavon or Blaenserchan as the White Horse Tavern was close to the main drovers route to both places in those days and quite a few Pit Sinkers who sunk the Tillery Colliery in the late 1840s came from Pontypool so the White Horse Tavern was a busy place at this time.
In the 1850 the Magistrates in Abertillery under the Chairmanship of Mr J. Conway (Tin Works proprietor) held Court in the Odd Fellows Arms close to the Tin Works (where the Fire Station is today).
In 1853 Mr Charles Banfield (Police Officer) was patrolling at Six Bells at the time a Railway accident happened. He was in all the reports and inquests but no mention of where he was based.
All records show that the first resident Police Officer in Abertillery was Mr Charles J. Haysom, he and his wife Mary Ann (nee Starks) lived in Abertillery in the 1860s and he attended many scenes of crime, sometimes his wife accompanied him when anyone needed aid or comforting. Later Mr Haysom was reported as being employed as the Tin Works Security/Policeman in Abertillery. The Collieries also had there own Police, sometimes the officers were contracted to the Colliery by the Constabulary and paid for by the Coal owners.
In 1869 P.C. Fleming was in Abertillery and he featured on quite a few reports of Abertillery, not sure if he was based here or Blaina. (New information recently received shows he was in Abertillery as seen below).
In 1871 the Census shows that there was a Police Station on Market Street, Abertillery. It was situated as being adjacent to the Commercial Hotel and a few premises away from the Top Bell Inn. It looks as though it was where the Market Hall would later be built. The Census states Mr Patrick Fleming a Police Constable aged 31 years old was in charge and living there with his wife Mrs Mary Ann Fleming aged 30. Mr Fleming was from Ireland and his wife from Cheltenham, Gloucester.
In 1875 P.C. O’Donnell and P.C. Cosh were reported as being on duty in the town, though again I don’t know if they were actually based in Abertillery or Blaina, though the new information suggest they may have been stationed in Abertillery .
The First Police Station.
Up until this point Abertillery wasn’t well populated and all Police work was organised from The County Constabulary in Blaina. As stated (above) there was some sort of Police Station on Market Street in the early 1870s. A report on the need for a new Police Station in Abertillery was put to the Police Committee. The Committee agreed to this and set out terms on financing and purchasing land to build a Station. The Committee arranged to lease ground at Wesleyan Road, Abertillery, later to be re-named Tillery Street. It was built on land rented from the Brynmawr Coal & Iron Company at £2, 13s, 6d. per annum and to be built at an estimated cost of £1,200. The Brynmawr Coal & Iron Co was set up by Mr Basil Jayne to purchase the Tillery Colliery from his father Mr John Jayne in 1873. They owned the land until Mr T. W. Powell took over the collieries in 1882.
On the 15th March 1878 tenders were invited for the building of the new purpose built Police Station at Abertillery. Tenders to be sent to Mr Charles B. Fox Clerk of the Police.
On 22nd March 1878 a meeting of the Police Committee took place at Usk, those present were as follows – Mr S. R. Bosenquet Esq (Chairman); Mr A. D. Berrington Esq; Mr J. C. Hill Esq; Mr C. J. Parkes Esq; Mr Basil Jayne Esq and Mr John James Esq: The Committee gave the go ahead for the Station at Abertillery and accepted the tender of Messrs D. J. and D. Davies of Cardiff at a cost of £1,180. The Population of Abertillery at this time was 6,000.
In April 1898 the Monmouthshire Standing Joint Committee at Newport decided to connect the Police Station at Abertillery to the Telephone Exchange.
On Wednesday 7th August 1895 at a meeting of the Monmouthshire County Council a letter was read from Mr Samuel Nathan Jones (Abertillery) to inspect the old Powell’s Tillery Reading Rooms, near the Police Station in view of the proposal to purchase the building to use as a Court House. Later the Powell Co built the new Powell’s Institute and sold their old Reading Rooms for £1,000 and the construction of the Court House next to the Police Station went ahead.
On Friday January 1899 the Abertillery Court House was completed. The work was carried out by Mr W. Smith (Builder) under the supervision of Mr W. Tanner (County Surveyor) and was officially opened by Mr Samuel Nathan Jones, the other Magistrates in in attendance were as follows – Mr Colonel G. W. Wilkinson (Risca); Mr E. J. Williams; Mr Titus Phillips; Mr T. P. White; Mr J. Wallace; Mr Evan Phillips; Mr John Dakers; Mr J. Phillips and Mr W. Steadman: The following officials were also present – Mr E. H. Davies (Clerk); Mr Fowler (Deputy Clerk, Tredegar and Acting Superintendent Porter); Mr L. E. Webb (Solicitor) and Mr John Davies (School Attendance Officer):
At the turn of the century the Tillery Street Police Station was getting too small for purpose, with the growing population a new much larger station was needed. In October 1901 Tenders were invited for the building of a new station and court house to be erected on Somerset Street, in Abertillery.
On Wednesday 9th October 1901 at a meeting of the Monmouthshire Standing Joint Committee the Tender of Messrs D. W. Richards at a cost of £4,400 was accepted for the construction of the new Police Station and Court House.
On Tuesday 27th May 1902 Mr Bosenquet (Chief Constable of Monmouthshire) came to Abertillery, he inspected the station and all the bookwork. He stated that there were 3 Sergeants and 19 Constables based at the Tillery Street Police Station. The Population of Abertillery at this time was 21,955.
The New Station.
On Wednesday 18th February 1903 the new Abertillery Police Station and Courts were opened. The selection of the site was not an easy one, the preferred site had already been let (I don’t know where this was?) so the site between Cwm Streets and Queen Street was chosen and the ground secured for a Head Quarters Station and a Court House. The contract of Messrs D. W. Richards of Newport was carried out in a satisfactory manner and the final cost was £5,000. The site was on a hill in an awkward position fronting two streets parallel to one another. The frontage to Cwm Street was 90 feet and to Queen Street being 120 feet. The depth between the streets was 150 feet and the rise from Cwm Street to Queen Street being 36 feet.
Because of the difficulties the station was built in two blocks, that fronting the Cwm Street consisting the Police Station, entrance, charge office 3 cells, Constables day room and offices with accommodation for ten single Constables, a Superintendents office, married Sergeants quarters, consisting of a parlour, living room, scullery etc and three bedrooms. The quarters in each instance were private connected inside by doors having separate entrances.
The frontage to Queen Street has a house for the Superintendent, comprising a parlour, living room, kitchen and offices, with four bedrooms and a bath room. On this elevation was the Court House 37 feet by 22 feet, retiring rooms for the Justices and witnesses. Separate entrances were provided for the public, Police and Prisoners, the latter being brought from the cells from the lower section via a flight of stone steps.
The actual buildings were built of 16″ inch hollow brickwork, the Red face bricks used being from the Star Brick Works (Risca) and the Buff face bricks were from the Ebbw Vale Works. The cells were constructed in double thickness in accordance with Home Office regulations. The buildings were heated by hot water, the heating contract being carried out by Mr Perman of Newport. The buildings were designed by Mr William Tanner F.S.I. County Surveyor and erected under his supervision.
There was no formal opening but previous to commencing the business of the courts the Magistrates inspected the building and expressed themselves as being thoroughly satisfied with what had been provided. Mr J. Green of Blackwood was the Presiding Magistrate (Chairman). The other Magistrates on the bench were as follows – Mr S. N. Jones; Mr E. J. Williams; Mr T. B. White; Mr T. Phillips; Mr W. Stewart; Mr T. Vatchell; Mr J. Richards; Mr G. Padfield and Mr J. Davies:
The very first ten cases heard on this opening day ranged from – The theft of a Pigeon, Stealing Coal, Wife Desertion, Slaughter House nuisance, A Stable nuisance, Family Assault case, Street Fighting, Bad Language, Disorderly Conduct and Obstruction. After the first batch of cases the Magistrates retired for lunch at the Cwm Hotel served by the landlord Mr Judd. The following gentlemen were also present at the Luncheon – Mr W. B. Harrison; Mr J. A. Shepard; Mr E. H. Davies; Mr V. Bosanquet; Mr J. Lewis; Mr William Tanner; Mr A. H. Dolman; Mr J. E. Phillips; Alderman Bowen; Inspector James; Messrs Francis Perman and W Richards:
Later a Police Station was opened at Cwmtillery (as seen on the map left) It housed a few Police Constables over the years though I believe it ceased being a station in the 1970s.
The main Police Station in Somerset Street was used on a part time basis from about 2010? but is now closed and boarded up.
On the 18th February 2017 the Ambulance and Police services moved into the Abertillery Fire Station to share the same building.