Getting to Know You: The launch of the South Wales Police magazine in 1970

Following the launch of the new South Wales Constabulary on 1 June 1969, the Chief Constable, Melbourne Thomas, was keen to foster activities, including the production of a magazine, that would begin to knit together the four police forces drawn together by the amalgamation. In his first annual report Thomas had noted:

Without doubt the development of the magazine will assist in encouraging a greater sprit and a better understanding between all Officers of the Force. (DSWP/16/2)


The production of a magazine for the new force was entrusted to Assistant Chief Constable, E R Baker. Simply styled the ‘South Wales Police Magazine’ the trial edition, in pocket book size and 40 pages in length, appeared early in 1970. From the outset Baker wanted the magazine to have a ‘family feel’, detailing not only what was happening in the force, such as promotions and retirements, but also including news of engagements, marriages and family sports and exam successes.  All 7 divisions plus Traffic, Headquarters and the Criminal Record Office were commissioned to provide contributions.

The ‘divisional correspondents’ all chipped in and helped to establish the style, informative but with a light touch, that ran through early editions. Here are just a couple of clips from an update on developments in the Traffic Division for the trial edition.

Reports have been received at this office from agitated motorists on the A48 Trunk Road, complaining that the traffic is moving more freely and safely owing to the fact that [two] Police Constables …are no longer interrupting the flow of traffic. It would appear that the gain of the motorists on the A48 is the loss of the students of the Police Driving Academy where the two officers are performing duty.

In August 1969 [the son of a Police Constable] was awarded first prize as the ‘Bonniest Baby’ at Butlin’s Holiday camp Minehead. There was a considerable amount of disagreement amongst the judges when they could not decide just who was the bonniest – father or son!

(South Wales Police Magazine Preliminary Issue – DSWP/52/1)

The gauntlet had well and truly been thrown down. The magazine was the place to go not only for the serious business of promotions and retirements but also for the lighter developments across the broad family of the South Wales Constabulary. As a result, the second edition, issued in the autumn of 1970, ran to a bumper 96 pages. Just about every division included both staff and family news and a series of anecdotes and stories.

The magazine now contained cartoons, poems, sports reports, a quiz, a crossword, book reviews and, echoing the family feel, a children’s story corner. Also every edition contained a mix of lengthy articles often chronicling the comical mishaps of colleagues and other ‘tall stories’. Here are two of the shorter contributions.

One evening a police Landrover went to the assistance of a member of the public whose car, boat and trailer had stuck in the sea at the river mouth at Ogmore by Sea. In the course of the recovery the police Landrover got into difficulties and, because of the fast incoming tide, the crew members had to ‘abandon ship’. The Landrover was eventually covered by water and before ‘going down’ the blue flashing lamp started to rotate as a sign of defiance. The vehicle was recovered next day and it is understood that members of the Central Traffic Sector partook of a meal of fish which had been trapped in the vehicle when it was high and dry.

(South Wales Police Magazine, Autumn 1970, DSWP/52/1)

Headed ‘Getting to know you’, there was also a story of a young PC napping with his head bowed on his chest in the inner recesses of a shop doorway late one evening. Hearing his Sergeant approaching, at the last minute he clasped his hands across his chest and said:

And please watch over all those who are on duty this night and forever and ever, Amen.

(South Wales Police Magazine, Autumn 1970, DSWP/52/1)

It is perhaps a positive sign that every edition had an extensive range of advertising dominated by local companies from across the Constabulary’s patch. However, the real sign of success was the extent to which the magazine could look back on, and smile at, the trials and tribulations experienced during the amalgamation. The Autumn 1970 edition included a poem and two articles on the amalgamation, including this extract from a skit on the lengthy debates that surrounded the agreeing of common paperwork and systems across the four forces. In this case, a form for resignations.

The meeting also decided to re-design Form Resig/Amalg/1/Ops … for the use of Admin Superintendents. Undoubtedly there would be a further meeting to decide who signed at the left, the middle and on the right – but that was something that could wait until tomorrow. “You know …I can never understand why a clever young fellow wants to resign anyway.” “Not enough to do, I suppose,” agreed his colleagues as they left through their personal doors.

(South Wales Police Magazine, Autumn 1970, DSWP/52/1)

The final test was the first clue in the crossword – 1 across:

Effective from 1st June 1969 – three words with 5, 5 and 12 letters.

Hopefully, by the autumn of 1970 all members of the force would have solved this in seconds. But, if you are struggling, the answer lies in para 1 of this article.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Copies of the first three editions of the South Wales Police Magazine for 1970 can be found at the Glamorgan Archives, reference DSWP/52/1.

Pandas on the streets of South Wales: The new South Wales Constabulary formed in 1969

This is the second of three articles that look at the formation of the South Wales Constabulary with the amalgamation of the Glamorgan, Cardiff, Merthyr and Swansea police forces. The first article concentrated on the launch of the force on 1 June 1969. In the second, we look at the new ‘modern’ police formed 50 years ago. Most of the material used is taken from the Chief Inspector’s Annual Reports held at Glamorgan Archives and, in particular, the report for 1969-70 (ref.: DSWP/16/2). Glamorgan Archives also holds an extensive collection of photographs of police work from this period.

The South Wales Constabulary drew together the four forces in Cardiff, Glamorgan, Merthyr and Swansea with very little change in the overall number of officers. The bulk of the new force, some 1300 officers from a total of 2391, was drawn from the Glamorgan Constabulary. The smallest force, prior to amalgamation was Merthyr with 141 officers followed by Swansea and Cardiff. This sounds like a sizeable number and indeed the Constabulary was one of the biggest in the country. However, as the new Chief Constable, Melbourne Thomas, pointed out, this only amounted to one officer for every 500 people in the area covered by the constabulary.

There were already signs that the new ‘modern’ police force was seeing changes in its traditional recruitment patterns. Although not fully integrated within the force until after the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975, by 1969 female police officers were employed in just about every aspect of the force’s work from the uniform branch to the Criminal Investigation Department, the Traffic Department, Special Branch and Drugs Squad. However, there were only 65 female officers, some 3% of the total strength. In other areas civilian roles were expanding rapidly with a total of around 500 employed by the South Wales Constabulary. While most were in clerical jobs, civilians were increasingly being employed in wider roles both out on the street with 69 traffic wardens, and behind the scenes with vehicle maintenance being undertaken by civilian staff.

The numbers and the maintenance of vehicles were dealt with in some detail in the report. In part, this was indicative of changing police methods with the introduction of Unit Beat Policing. In line with national recommendations, issued by the Home Office in 1967, Unit Beat Policing encouraged forces to invest in cars and personal radios so that officers could patrol and respond rapidly to calls from the public. While the approach taken reduced the number of officers patrolling on foot, in theory, it sought to make best use of new technology to police large areas. By the end of 1969 the new force owned a total of 459 vehicles, of which 160 were allocated to the 8 divisions for Unit Beat Policing. Although still work in progress many cars were already equipped with wireless while officers had access to 528 personal radios.

The introduction of Unit Beat Policing was not without its hazards. 1969 saw a significant rise in police vehicles involved in traffic accidents, including 93 incidents involving cars involved in Unit Beat Policing. As Melbourne Thomas admitted:

Because of the rapid introduction of unit beat policing it was not possible to give every driver the full instruction which police drivers normally undergo to raise them to an above average standard…

However, he assured the public that:

…no police officer was allowed to drive without a test to show that he was well capable of coping with normal traffic hazards.

Glamorgan Archives holds an extensive collection of photographs from this period, including several of the Morris Minors that provided the backbone of Unit Beat Policing in South Wales. Referred to as Panda Cars, although they were actually painted light blue and white, and equipped with wireless they became a distinctive feature of policing in many areas.



Looking at the report there were many features that now sound commonplace but were new developments in police work in 1969, including campaigns to promote the installation of automatic burglar alarms and the running of crime prevention seminars. There were also one or two old favourites including the ‘Talking Beacon’ used in road safety campaigns with young people. Sometimes referred to as ‘Billy’ or ‘Bertie the Beacon’, the campaign featured a belisha beacon with a face and often sporting a bow tie that was taken on visits to schools. Billy had a recorded voice and provided advice on road safety such as ‘Stop, look and listen before you cross the road’. In an age when robots were still largely limited to Hollywood movies, Billy was ‘always enthusiastically received’.

Perhaps one other aspect of the ‘new developments’ was of significance. The crime statistics for 1969 were dominated by the traditional categories of assault, burglary and theft. Although the new force had a specialist Drugs Squad the only reference to work in this area was the report that two police dogs had completed training to detect cannabis resin. Possibly this was with a weather eye to the future for, within 12 months, the Chief Constable was reporting he was concerned by …the spread of illicit drug usage especially amongst young persons…  With 274 people charged with drug offences in 1970 and the arrest of 6 people in Cardiff for running a ring importing LSD in exchange for cannabis resin the Chief Constable was sufficiently concerned to order training for all officers in combating drug crime.

During 1969, 11 officers from police forces across the globe – from Nigeria to Bahrain to the Solomon Islands – visited the South Wales Constabulary. There is no record of their thoughts. But there is no doubt that there would have been much food for thought as the new constabulary put down its roots and adjusted to the changes and challenges of policing South Wales.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Copies of the Annual Report of the Chief Constable for 1969 and 1970 are held at Glamorgan Archives, reference DSWP/16/2.


Captaining Glamorgan at Cricket, 24 September 1890

With four games in the ICC Cricket World Cup being staged at Sophia Gardens the focus once again this summer is on cricket. A trawl through the records held at Glamorgan Archives has unearthed an account of a cricket match played over 130 years ago, when a Glamorganshire cricket team took to the field against old rivals from across the River Severn. Played at Cheltenham on 24 September 1890, the match against East Gloucestershire had a dramatic ending with the home team needing to score 34 in the last 15 minutes to secure victory. In an attempt to avert defeat, Glamorgan turned to their captain and opening bowler Hill, supported by Webber, to stem the flow of runs. In the first innings they had formed a deadly partnership sharing 8 wickets. Hill had also opened the batting for Glamorganshire scoring 56, with the newspapers reporting that the openers had …hit out freely and the score rose with great rapidity. However, despite their best efforts, a series of hefty blows from one of the Gloucestershire openers, Champain, who scored 31 in quick time, secured victory for the home side and maintained their unbeaten record for the season.

This was no ordinary cricket match. The Glamorganshire captain was Constance Hill, daughter of Colonel Sir Edward Stock Hill of Rookwood in Cardiff, and it is almost certainly one of the first records of a women’s cricket team being formed and representing Glamorganshire.

D1372-1-1-4 match report_compressed

The result would have been a significant disappointment. Earlier in the summer, under the guise of Col Hill’s XI, Constance and many of her team, plus Miss Morgan of Ruperra, had travelled to Dedham in Essex and made short work of a side assembled by Sir John Gorst, then Undersecretary of State for India. The newspapers reported that their arrival had created quite a stir:

Colonel Hill and his party travelling from London in a saloon carriage attached to the 10am train from Liverpool Street arrived at Ardleigh about 11.30am. The stoppage of the express and the detraining of the fair athletes and their friends forming evidently quite an event in the annals of that quiet little station.

After bowling out Dedham in their first innings for a low score,Col Hill’s XI made 113:

…Miss Morgan contributed 32 by hard hitting, her innings included a fine hit to square leg for six and three fours; while Miss Hill, who went in first, played steadily and carried her bat for 51 runs.

It must have felt like a good preparation for the Gloucestershire match but, as it turned out, their opponents in September were far more formidable.

Cricket was very fashionable in this period. There are numerous records of matches being played in Wales between mixed teams or Ladies v Gentleman, often with the men batting with broomsticks and only being allowed to bowl and catch with their weaker hand. However, it was also a time when many women saw no reason why they should not participate in what had previously been a male dominated sport. Only 3 months earlier, in June 1890, an exhibition game had been played in Newport staged by the Original English Lady Cricketers. Although a report in the South Wales Daily News that the match had been watched by thousands was probably overstated, there was a genuine interest as the two teams, known as the Reds and Blues, took to the field. The Newport game was one of a series of exhibition matches staged by the Original English Lady Cricketers across England, Wales and Ireland in the summer of 1890. As paid professionals there was no frivolity in the approach taken, with the players employing overarm bowling and those batting equipped with leather and padding to protect against injury. Even so, it was reported that one player left the field that afternoon with a suspected broken nose. There were also inevitably nods to the conventions of the time with the women wearing long skirts to the calf, trimmed with red or blue and weighted with lead shot.

The match was seen as outrageous in some quarters with the suggestion that engaging in such sports was not ‘lady like’. There were heated exchanges in the press as to the extent that the young female body could cope with the strains and stresses of competitive team games such as cricket. In response, the management team pointed out that the players were handpicked for their athletic ability and, given that team members had an average age of 19 years, the party was cared for and chaperoned by a matron and an assistant matron.

Although the Original English Ladies Cricket team soon faded from sight, women’s cricket was taking root. This was particularly the case in the more wealthy sectors of society and it was often promoted, not without some controversy, in colleges and schools for young women. It is a reasonable assumption that Constance Hill and her colleagues in the Glamorganshire team would have attended the Newport match.

D1372-1-1-6 Miss C Hill_compressed

Constance, who was 22 years old at the time, would have had little time for matches involving broomsticks for bats, for the Hills were a cricketing family through and through. Her elder brother, Vernon, played for Winchester and Oxford University and scored a rapid hundred in a varsity game against Cambridge University. He went on to play at county level, for Somerset and Glamorgan, and his brothers, Eustace and Percy, also played county cricket.

D1372-1-1-4 family group_compressed

The Hill siblings

The scrapbooks of the Hill family held at Glamorgan Archives chart the cricketing achievements of Col Hill’s sons and daughters and include match reports and several photographs. Although there is no record of Edward Stock Hill’s elder daughter, Mabel, playing cricket, Constance and her younger sister, Gladys were both keen and talented cricketers. The Gloucestershire game would have been played in deadly earnest for the home team was coached by William Woof, who played over 140 games for Gloucestershire, taking over 600 wickets. He coached the Cheltenham College cricket team and in later years the Oxford and Cambridge University sides. A left arm bowler, Woof had been recommended to Cheltenham College by W G Grace. While the Glamorganshire team may not have had such an eminent coach it is very likely that they would have been coached by Colonel Hill and Constance’s brothers and, in particular, Vernon, who in 1890, was already a member of the Somerset county team.

D1372-1-1-6 cricket match_compressed

The Hill family and friends at a cricket match

The Hill family scrapbooks provide a fascinating picture of women’s cricket in this period. Cricket matches commenced just after midday and ran through to 6 o’clock with a break of an hour for lunch. Teams dressed in long skirts trimmed with ribbons in the team colours and wearing straw boater hats. Constance was an accomplished cricketer with both the bat and ball and almost invariably opened the batting and bowling. Although not taking the precautions adopted by the Original English Lady Cricketers, she would have worn cricket pads and gloves when batting, although the records suggest that the gloves were often discarded. Constance’s style was to accumulate runs steadily rather than spectacular hitting. However, this was not always the case and in a match at Tredegar Park it was reported that:

Miss Hill and Miss Morgan commenced the second innings for their side. Some splendid batting was now seen both ladies hitting to all parts of the field. In 42 minutes when stumps were drawn the partnership had contributed to 72 runs which included 6 3s by Miss Hill and a 5 by Miss Morgan.

As to bowling, accuracy was the key to her success. In the few records that survive her victims were generally clean bowled. In the one set of bowling statistics during a spell of 6 overs Constance took 3 wickets for 11 runs and, unlike many others, did not record any ‘wides’. It should be noted that this was a fairly short spell in that an innings for an afternoon game might last up to 50 overs. So much for the concerns about the ability of ‘frail young ladies’ to play a competitive cricket match.

Without a formal structure for women’s cricket in South Wales, Constance played for a number of ad hoc teams including Fairwater and a range of invitation teams such as Miss Morgan’s XI. She was also recruited in later years to play for the same Miss Gorst’s XI that had been comprehensively beaten in 1890. While cricket was making in-roads at all levels of society the games reported in South Wales were largely constituted between the daughters and occasionally the wives of a number of wealthy and influential families. This including the Morgans of Ruperra, the Morris’ of Danycraig and a bevy of well-known local families including the Pritchards, Beynons, Curtis’ and Davids.  Their rivals in the Gloucestershire team had included three daughters of Col William Agg, JP, of Prestbury and two daughters of Lt Col Bateman Champain, late of the Royal Engineers who had served in India.

There is a very grand set photographs in the Hill family scrapbooks of the wedding of Constance to Walter Robertson Hoare in 1897 at Llandaff Cathedral.

large wedding group

Sadly her marriage also marked the end of the records of her cricket career. It may be that she devoted herself to family and she certainly had other ‘strings in her bow’ as a talented actress, musician and golfer. She was also active in politics, serving as President of one of the Cardiff Branches of the Primrose League.

One hundred and twenty years later another cricketing all-rounder, Heather Knight, lifted the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup at Lords as England defeated India in the final on 23 July 2017. In 2013 former cricketer, Isabelle Duncan, completed a book on women’s cricket titled ‘Skirting the Boundary’. There is no doubt that Constance and her team would have applauded both, for they had made their contribution to putting women firmly at the wicket and no longer skirting the boundary.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

This article draws on the records of cricket matches and family photographs held in the Hill Family of Rookwood scrapbooks deposited at Glamorgan Archives. The key books for this period can be found under the reference D1372/1/1, in particular Vol 3 (D1372/1/1/3), Vol 4 (D1372/1/1/4) and Vol 5 (D1372/1/1/5).