Cardiff Docks And Its Police Force: A Chronological Review Of Events

1819 Five special constables were appointed in Cardiff due to vandalism and hooliganism but their hut was destroyed by vandals.

1825 First reference to the Railway Police (Stockton & Darlington Railway)

1829 The acknowledged start of the police service with the Metropolitan Police

1830. Act of Parliament allows for the building of the “Bute Ship Canal” at Cardiff.

18.03.1835 Foundation stone on the first Bute Dock (the West Dock) was laid by John Lloyd.

1835 The first coal staith was erected by Thomas Powell on the River Taff.

Jan 1836 Cardiff's newly elected council set up a Watch Committee who appoint 24 year old Jeremiah Box Stockdale, Cardiff's first police superintendent.

03.11.1839 The Chartist uprising. Violent clash at the Westgate Hotel, Newport where 20 were killed. Zephania Williams arrested by Stockdale aboard the vessel Vintage moored in the canal basin at Cardiff. 

27.08.1839 The County Police Act received royal assent.

09.10.1839 The Bute West Dock opened. The intended ship canal was never built.

EARLY 1840 First reference to the Bute Dock Watchmen. 16 year old French girl, Mathilde Demandre jumped into the newly opened dock and drowned.

1840 Superintendent Stockdale arrested a man for robbery at the West Dock. The man was later transported for seven years.

08.10.1840 The first section of the Taff Vale Railway opened from Abercynon to Cardiff.

1841 The formation of the Glamorgan Constabulary

06.10.1842 The Town Dock at Newport opened. Closed and filled in October 1930 

23.09.1845 141 vessels counted in the West Dock at Cardiff

07.12.1845 First gas lighting (12 lampposts) arrived at the dock.

1847 The Harbours Docks and Piers Clauses Act was passed allowing the appointment of constables with at docks and harbours and up to one mile in the vicinity thereof.

1848 Cardiff's first race riot followed the stabbing to death of a Welshman by an Irishman.

18.03.1848 The 2nd. Marquess of Bute died in Cardiff.

1849 335 deaths from cholera in Cardiff and the surrounding area.

1850 The River Taff straightened and the Town Quay disappeared and led to the demise of the salmon fisherman who had been using coracles on the river for centuries.

18.06.1850 The South Wales Railway opened between Chepstow and Swansea.

Feb 1851 The Plews Report on the Bute Docks: lack of lighting and poor state of the Watchmen.

02.08.1852 The last mail coach left Cardiff for London. (South Wales railway now open.)

1852 Work began on the building of the second Bute Dock (The East Dock)

1852 The first postman was appointed to deliver mail to the ships in dock.

20.07.1855 The first section of the Bute East Dock was opened to shipping 

13.08.1856 The Steam Packet Tidal Harbour opened.

13.08.1856 The Bute Tidal Harbour opened (Where the Roath Basin was later built)

DEC 1857 Opening of Rhymney Railway to Cardiff Docks (23 miles)

Oct 1858 The Bute Dock Police force was formed. and issued with cutlasses.

04.11.1858 BDP Policeman John SCUDAMORE drowned in the feeder near the East Dock

1858 The Rhymney Railway line opened bringing coal from the Rhymney Valley.

01.07.1859 Ely Tidal Harbour opened (At the mouth of the Ely River)

Sept 1859 The Bute East Dock was completed

1860 HMS Havannah was beached at Penarth Road bridge to become a ragged school

1863 The South Wales Railway was taken over by the GWR

10.06.1865 Penarth Dock opened

1866 HMS Thisbe was moored in the West Dock to serve as a seaman's church.

Nov 1866 The uncommissioned warship Hamadryad was beached at the mouth of the river Taff and converted into a seaman's hospital with 50 beds.

1868 The Norwegian Church was built beside the West Dock

10.01.1873 Superintendent Daniel Gavin died in service; succeeded by Joseph Carne ROSS

30.01.1873 First mention of an Alexander Dock & Railway Company policeman (Newport).

23.07.1874 The Roath Basin was opened.

1875 The Alexander North Dock and Lock opened at Newport.

13.03.1876 Edward Stelfox, a fisherman, was shot and murdered in his shanty on the foreshore- John Webber arrested and executed at Cardiff Gaol six weeks later.

c. 1880 Superintendent Henry Urquhart was in charge of the force for 12 months

1882 The Glamorgan Canal Company was purchased by the Bute Dock Company

1982/3 Superintendent Thomas Edwards was in post as officer in charge of the BDP force.

1880s Police rattles disappeared in favour of whistles.

09.12.1885 Superintended Thomas Edwards died in service, succeeded by Supt. John O’Gorman

01.02.1886 The Coal Exchange opened in Mountstuart Square, Cardiff

24.08.1887 The Roath Dock was opened to shipping.

1888 The annual costs of the Bute Dock Police were £2,894

1888 Merger proposed between Bute Dock Co. and the Taff Vale Railway Co. but did not take place 

05.07.1889 First dock (No. 1)at Barry Dock was opened.

19.11.1892 The Bute Dock Co. offices in Cardiff destroyed by fire and many records lost.

c.1895 Consideration was given to build a dam across the Taff Ely Estuary from Penarth Head to Cardiff Docks. The Queen Alexandra Dock was built instead.

06.08.1897 The Bute Docks Company changed its name to the Cardiff Railway Company

02.12.1897 Supt. John O’Gorman died in service.

July 1898 A second Dock at Barry opened.

c. 1899-1902 Superintendent Herbert Evans was in charge of the force

1905 The hospital ship 'Hamadryad' broken up and replaced by a properly built hospital. The former ragged school hulk 'Havannah' was also broken up.

28.10.1905 Cardiff was proclaimed a city.

1906 Superintendent David Davies was in post as officer in charge of the force.

13.07.1907 The Queen Alexandra Dock officially opened when the Royal Yacht ‘Victoria & Albert III’ with King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on board sliced through the ribbon

1909 The world’s first £1 million cheque reputedly changed hands at the Coal Exchange.

02.01.1909 Tragedy during construction of a new lock at Newport. Timber shoring collapsed and many workmen trapped; 39 men killed, some instantly, while others perished as the tide came in. Bodies which could not be recovered were left entombed in the mud.

15.06.1910 Captain Scott and the 'Terra Nova' left the Roath Basin, Cardiff for the Antarctic

1912 National strike of transport and dock workers involved an attempt on the life of Detective Constable Thomas Owen.

23.03.1913 22 yr old Spaniard Julian Biros was stabbed to death at the Roath Basin by Hugh McClaren who was later arrested and executed at Cardiff Gaol

14.06.1913 The 'Terra Nova' returned to her berth at the Roath Basin following the tragic events in Antarctica, almost three years to the day after she had left.

27.07.1914 The force went onto 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week the next five years.

23.10.1914 Seven constables were nominated for war duty with the military police.

05.10.1918 Sergeants and constables were granted one day's leave in seven (Special war duty leave only.)

01.01.1922 Bute Docks sold to the Great Western Railway for a nominal sum of £5. Barry Docks and Penarth Docks also passed to GWR

22.05.1922 The Bute Docks Police became part of the Great Western Railway Police. Green uniforms were exchanged for blue. The GWR Chief of Police was Mr. J.H. Matthews

01.01.1923 A large number of small railway and dock companies (and their police forces) merged into 'the big four' railway companies- The Great Western Railway, Southern Railway, London Midlands Scottish Railway and London North Eastern Railway companies.

1925 Superintendent David Davies retired- succeeded by David JOHNSON, previously Chief of Police of the Swansea Harbour Trust Police.

1931 The Cardiff Railway line closed

July 1936 Penarth Docks closed to commercial traffic. (Re-opened during the 2nd World War)

1936 John Matthews, GWR Chief of Police retired, succeeded by George Stephens.

1939 The outbreak of the 2WW . 150 special constables recruited to supplement existing police staff at Cardiff Docks. Officers issued with .38 Smith & Wesson revolvers. German seamen interned.

09.02.1940 Royal Visit to the docks by their Majesties the King and Queen- the first of three wartime royal visits.

06.06.1940 The first bombs of the war fell on Cardiff. A stick of eight bombs fell on the docks; one sank the SS Stesso in the East Dock.

09.07.1940 The San Fillipe was sunk by a bombing raid on Cardiff Docks

May 1941 David J. Johnson retired as Superintendent at Cardiff Docks and succeeded by John Ridd who took charge of all South Wales docks and rail police posts.

01.01.1944 Superintendent John Ridd was awarded the OBE in the New Year's Honours list.

01.01.1944 The Glamorgan Canal was sold by GWR to Cardiff City Council.

Apr 1944 Policewomen granted same Annual Leave as male officers- 12 days.

31.12.1945 George Stephens retired as Chief of Police for GWR and succeeded by Arthur Lane

31.12.1947 Railways nationalised and the British Transport Commission Police created. William B. Richards appointed Chief of Police. South Wales Docks Division amalgamated with the South Wales Railway Division to form one division commanded by John Ridd.

06.12.1951 The last demise of the Glamorgan Canal took place when the sand dredger 'Catherine Ethel' burst through the inner lock gates and destroyed them.

01.05.1952 Superintendent John Ridd retired and was succeeded by Archibald W. Jordan

Early 1954 Button neck 'dog collar' tunics were replaced by open necked ones with shirt and tie.

20.12.1955 Cardiff proclaimed the capitol of Wales

31.12.1955 William B. Richards retired as Chief of Police for BTC and was replaced by Colonel N. McNaughton-Jesper DSO OBE MC FRD.

26.04.1958 Archibald Jordan retired as Superintendent South Wales Division and was succeeded by Edwin T. Leath

06.07.1958 Colonel N. McNaughton-Jesper retired as Chief of Police for BTC, succeeded by Arthur C. West who adopted for the first time, the title of Chief Constable.

01.01.1963 The force changed its name to the British Transport Police. The British Transport Docks Board took took over from the disbanded British Transport Commission..

1963 The last shipload of coal was exported from Cardiff Docks

08.08.1963 The Great Train Robbery took place.

01.09.1963 Arthur C. West retired as Chief Constable and was succeeded by William Owen Gay the first and so far only Chief Constable to come through the ranks within the force.

01.01.1964 The South Wales Docks Division was created with Superintendent William Voyle taking command.

31.01. 1964 The West Dock closed to shipping for good.

15.07.1964 The hours of duty were reduced from 48 to 42 hours per week

1964 The force stopped policing the British Waterways undertaking.

1966 South Wales Docks and Rail Divisions formed a Dog section for the first time.

24 July 1968 The retirement age was reduced from 65 to between 55 and 57 for constables and sergeants and 60 for inspectors and above.

15.11.1968 New police station at the Roath Basin opened by Home Secretary, James Callaghan.

1969 The West Dock was filled in.

JULY 1969 The Royal Yacht Britannia visited Cardiff for the Investiture of the Prince of Wales

31.01.1970 The East Dock closed to shipping.

01.04.1970 The working week was reduced from 42 to 40 hours.

18.07.1970 Emergency Regulations introduced due to national dock strike.

23.11.1970 Superintendent William Voyle died while still in service.

21.03.1971 The South Wales Division and South Wales Docks Division amalgamated following Supt Voyle’s death. Supt Doug Sellik took command of the combined Division.

28.10.1972 Douglas H. Sellick retired as superintendent in charge of South Wales Division and replaced by Chief Superintendent William Edmunds

31.10.1973 Police escorts on the Travelling Post Office trains, a nightly occurrence since the great train robbery in 1963, ceased.

30.12.1973 South Wales Division Control room opened at Cardiff Docks at 0600 hours.

27.06.1974 Chief Constable W.O. Gay retired from the force, succeeded by Eric Haslam OBE

01.09.1974 Equal pay for policewomen introduced.

28.09.1974 William D. Edmunds retired as Chief Superintendent in charge of the South Wales Division. He was followed by Superintendent Leslie Cockerton.

11.02.1978 Leslie Cockerton retired as Superintendent, South Wales Division. Colin R.J. Ayres became the last Superintendent in South Wales to have charge of police posts at the docks. He oversaw police withdrawal from South Wales docks in 1985.

08.02.1981 Eric Haslam OBE QPM retired as Chief Constable of BTP and was succeeded by Kenneth Ogram as Chief Constable of BTP

10.1.1984 Associated British Ports announced its intention to dispense with the services of the BTP at all 24 of its ports.

13.04.1985 The last patrol officers at Cardiff Docks, Pc Keith Williams and Pc John MELLOR, locked the police station door for the last time and went to work at Cardiff Central Station.