PeopleOf Cwmamman

Police Sergeant Thomas Richards

Carmarthenshire Police Helmet Plate c.1920

The Amman Valley Chronicle, in it's 25th June, 1936 edition, carried an article announcing the retirement of Police Sergeant Thomas Richards and gave us an insight into his career.

He joined the Carmarthenshire Constabulary in 1895 and during his career was stationed at Llandeilo, Llanelly, Pontyberem, Saint Clears and Ferryside. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in April 1919, before being transferred to Cwmamman, where he took up his posting in May of the same year.

During his time in the police force, Sergeant Richards performed his duty in a variety of locations and situations, including the tithe sales and industrial disputes in the Rhondda and Carmarthenshire. Edward VII's visit to Aberystwyth and Swansea, as both Prince of Wales and later, King, saw Sergeant Richards in attendance at the locations and he was on duty at Llanelly for the visit of King Edward VIII.

During the 17 years that Sergeant Richards had charge of Cwmamman, he encountered a wide range of experiences, some of which were extremely unpleasant. He was on duty with another officer; Constable Thomas, on the night that Thomas Thomas was murdered at the Star Stores in 1921. He and Constable J. Thomas were the first Police Officers at the scene of the crime.

In February of 1927, at a special sitting of Ammanford Court, Police Sergeant Richards gave evidence against a labourer named George Williams of no fixed abode. His evidence included the following statement: "I have never met a more violent prisoner in the whole of my experience."
The defendant was charged with being drunk and disorderly, assaulting the police and committing wilful damage to a bucket and the walls of a cell at Garnant Police Station. The defendant continued to mumble abusive remarks towards the police officers while they stood in the box to give evidence throughout the hearing.
The court heard that at 2:45 pm on Monday the 21st of February, 1927, Police Constable Ben Roberts saw the defendant interfering with and giving verbal abuse to road users, whilst in a state of drunkeness at Glanamman Square. After taking no heed of the constable's warnings, he was arrested and became violent whilst being taken to Garnant Police Station by bus. Constable Roberts was kicked several times on the leg and suffered a bleeding mouth when the defendant struck him.
Sergeant Richards told the court that when the bus arrived at Garnant Police Station, he was summoned by the bus conductor and went to the aid of Constable Roberts, who was having to hold the defendant down. The defendant was "mad drunk" and using filthy language in front of the rest of the bus passengers. When they tried to move the defendant from the bus to the station, he was kicking, trying to bite and threatening the officers. The defendant became violent again inside the Police Station and had his boots removed after kicking both Constable Roberts and Sergeant Richards. From his cell, the defendant promised to kill both of the police officers. The bad behaviour continued until 2 am on the following morning, with the prisoner flinging a bucket from one end of the cell to the other. The bucket had been placed in the cell to be used as a toilet.
When the court asked the prisoner if he had anything to say, he merely replied: "Do as you like with me."
He was sentenced to one month imprisonment.

Christmas did not cause Sergeant Richards to neglect his duty and the consumption of too much alcohol by some of the young men of the village did not go unnoticed by the dedicated officer when they became unruly. The Ammanford Police Court in January 1933, heard how Sergeant Richards saw a young man staggering around on Cwmamman Road. The Sergeant did not immediately arrest the man, despite his inebriated condition, but ordered him and his friends to be on their way, allowing them to head off down the road. Alas, the young group drew the attention of Sergeant Richards again 15 minutes later, when they caused a nuisance by bumping into the crowd of people who were coming from a singing festival. This time the young misbehaver was reported by the Sergeant, before the officer allowed him to catch a bus home. The court showed leniency towards the young man as it was Christmas and he was let off with having to pay only the costs of bringing the case to court.

The following day, the proprietor of the Globe Inn, Garnant was not so lucky when he and his barmaid were reported for selling intoxicating drink during non-permitted hours. Sergeant Richards entered the Globe Inn at 11:30 am on Boxing Day and asked the proprietor whether there were any men there. He admitted that there were. The Sergeant walked through to the back kitchen and saw evidence of drinking, but no customers; these having made a hasty departure. The barmaid admitted serving five men and was charged with aiding and abetting. The proprietor protested to Sergeant Richards, accusing him of taking advantage of the holiday. The court imposed a fine on both the proprietor and his accomplice.

Tales of drunken misdemeanours or serving alcohol outside permitted hours may seem trivial today, when alcohol related crime is so abundant. Some events that required Sergeant Richards attention were, however, extremely distressing. In August of 1933, he was called to attend to a suicide victim at 6:40 am, when the postmaster at Garnant mortally wounded himself with a revolver. Sergeant Richards found the man still alive and tried his best to make him comfortable until the local doctor arrived. His duties then demanded that he investigate the possible reason for the man's actions and to give detailed evidence at the inquest. What would have made the policeman's task more emotionally difficult, is that he and the postmaster would have almost certainly known each other well.

In 1935, Police Sergeant Thomas Richards received the King George Jubilee Medal.

The 25th June 1936, edition of the Amman Valley Chronicle reported on his retirement and stated that Police Sergeant Richards intended to remain in the neighbourhood afterwards. Unfortunately his wife had died the previous December. The article stated that he had carried out his duties with care and judgement and described him as popular with all classes. The Ammanford Police Court eulogised his services at it's 26th of June, 1936 sitting. On the 30th June, 1936, a meeting of the Cwmamman Urban Council was held at the Workmen's Hall, Garnant. There, the Chairman wished the "popular" officer continued good health for the remainder of his days. Mr. G. Tracy Phillips, the Clerk, described Sergeant Richards as a charming gentleman.

Thomas Richards' replacement was Police Sergeant Rees of Tycroes.

The above information was taken from the Amman Valley Chronicle. Thanks to Ross Mather for the photograph of the Carmarthenshire Police helmet plate. Ross Mather's collection of police memorabilia can be viewed at:

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