Police Station

St. Nicholas Police station was founded by Captain Charles Frederick George Napier, the first Chief Constable of Glamorgan.   

Appointment of the First Chief Constable for Glamorgan

Captain Napier
Captain Napier

The advertisement relating to the appointment of Chief Constable for the new Glamorgan Constabulary appeared in the local papers, and quite simply required "any person desirous of the appointment, to send sealed testimonials of his qualifications to the Clerk of the Peace at Cardiff on or before Friday 23 July 1851."

No mention was made of the qualifications for appointment, though the Clerk of the Peace had already received from the Home Office a copy of the rules made by the Secretary of State prescribing qualifications.

Undoubtedly, the Home Secretary would expect to find these fulfilled in the any applicant recommended for his approval. On the face of it this omission appears to have been deliberate and it may well be that the magistrates did not wish to limit the field of applicants. They may have preferred to examine the qualifications of the widest possible range of applicants before committing themselves to a condition of appointment with which they might not agree, for example, age.

xample, age.

"The Guardian," however, did supply the missing information in a paragraph commenting on the advertisement:

"For the guidance of those gentlemen who may think proper to answer the advertisement for a Chief Constable...we subjoin the rules laid down by the Secretary of State as to his qualifications. His age must not exceed 45 years, he must be certified by a medical practitioner to be in good health and of sound constitution, and fitted to perform the duties of his office. He must not have been a bankrupt, nor have taken the benefit of the Insolvents Act, and he must be recommended as a person of general character and conduct."

The preliminary meeting of the Committee was held privately at Pyle towards the end of July, but "The Guardian" managed to get news of its proceedings, for it announced that "there were about 20 applicants, the great majority of whom produced testimonials of the highest description", and that "the Committee decided unanimously on recommending Captain Charles Napier, of the Rifle Brigade, for the choice of the magistrates at the ensuing Quarter Sessions."

The appointment of Captain Charles Frederick George Napier was confirmed at Quarter Sessions at Pyle Inn, Pyle on 11 August 1841.

was made in July 1841. The building was demolished in 1960.

He must have commenced his duties almost immediately for his first report to the magistrates was dated 30 August 1841. Napier's dedication is shown in that he had already made a tour of the County on horseback for the purpose of "suggesting the required arrangements prior to the adoption of the new system of Police Force."

Evidence shows that Captain Napier must have taken up his appointment on Friday 13th August, for his salary for the quarter ended 30th September is recorded as £60 8s 8d, which at the rate of £450 per annum (£300 salary plus £150 for his horse and other expenses) would cover a period of 49 days.

Chief Constable Napier Takes Control

Following his appointment as Chief Constable in August 1841, Captain Napier, working closely with the Marquis of Bute, set about planning the new Glamorgan Constabulary in detail.

They divided the County into 4 districts:

  • Merthyr (an area which included Merthyr, Dowlais, Rhymney, Troedyrhiw and the upper part of the Aberdare Valley from Mountain Ash to Hirwaun)
  • Newbridge (the Rhymney Valley, the Taff Vale below Mountain Ash and Troedyrhiw, the Rhondda Valleys and Llantrisant)
  • Cowbridge and Ogmore (the Vale of Glamorgan from Penarth to Taibach, and the Ogmore, Garw and Llynfi Valleys)
  • Swansea (the West of the County from the Avon to the Carmarthenshire and Breconshire borders)

4 Superintendents with police experience were recruited, together with 34 suitable men to serve as policemen.

Napier looked to his military past for a rank structure and decided on subdividing his constables into 3 classes. The first class would be known as sergeants while the rest would be known as constables but would be divided, by pay, into 2 classes.

For the first month of their police life the new sergeants and constables of the Glamorgan Constabulary lived in the Bridgend Workhouse. In 1841 the new Workhouse was only 3 years old and was occupied by only 2 paupers. It offered Napier an ideal location to assemble his new force, supervise them, drill them and teach them their new duties.

Bridgend Workhouse 1841
Bridgend Workhouse 1841

Napier issued his first General Order on 23 October 1841:

"All orders and regulations of the Union Workhouse to be strictly adhered to, particularly with regard to tobacco smoking which cannot be permitted within the walls of the Union grounds.

The rooms to be kept thoroughly clean, beds rolled neatly and personal clothing folded.

The Sergeant on duty will be responsible for the cleanliness of the rooms, regularity at meal times, the respectable conduct of the constables, as well as due observance by them of all rules and regulations.

He will cause all lights to be put out, and the men in bed, by 10.00pm, reporting such or any irregularities."

Captain Napier and Superintendent Lewis

During the period the Sergeants and Constables were occupying a wing of the Bridgend Workhouse, the 4 Superintendents with their horses were accommodated by Captain Napier at his house, Brynteg, on the Ewenny side of town. Napier and Lewis, one of his Superintendents, actively disliked one another.

Lewis had been in charge of the small trial Force for about 20 months prior to Captain Napier arriving on the scene, and the reason for the animosity between the two men may have stemmed from his reluctance to play a subordinate role. It would appear from archival records that Lewis was both a flamboyant and a conceited person. The uniform he obtained for himself was of the finest quality, liberally decorated with silver braid. This was topped with a blue, red and gold forage cap. 

The other Superintendents were issued with a basic uniform lacking all frills and embroidery except for the silver embroidered crown on the collar. There was no forage cap, and in response to a request from Lewis that Superintendents be awarded permission to purchase forage caps for their own use, Napier insisted instead that this was only allowed providing the cap was of the plainest possible description.

Napier confirmed this personal victory over Lewis by insisting he move from Llantrisant to Pontypridd as Pontypridd was better suited for District Headquarters. It is possible though that Napier also wished to increase the distance between himself and his errant Superintendent.

The Men Begin their Duties

Napier's estimate that 3 weeks would be long enough to equip the men proved to be an overly optimistic one, for he had to apply on two occasions for extensions of time for the occupation of the workhouse wing. It was not until Tuesday 23rd November 1841 that the men were fully equipped and sent to their respective stations.

All the single men were sent to Merthyr, the only place in the County where more than one constable was to be stationed, and where Superintendent Davies had been able to rent a large house called the Station House in which he and his men were housed. Elsewhere it was a case of each man finding whatever accommodation he could in the district which was his beat and then, having settled in, if the house was not conveniently situated for his purposes, taking up a more suitable lodging house as opportunity occurred. 
The men were allocated as follows:

Merthyr District
Merthyr - 1 Sergeant and 7 Constables
Dowlais - 1 Sergeant and 2 Constables

One Sergeant at Aberdare and one Constable at Hirwaun and Rhymney.
In the other districts of the County there was one man at each "station," the Sergeant indicated by the asterisk.

Swansea District
*Neath Abbey, *Loughor, Aberpergwm, Pontardawe, Aberavon and Ystalyfera.

Newbridge District
*Newbridge, *Caerphilly, Treforest, Llantrisant, Llandaff, Nantgarw and Nelson.

Ogmore District
*Bridgend, *Llantwit Major, *Cowbridge, Cornelly, St Nicholas and Maesteg.


Captain Charles Frederick Napier
First Chief Constable of Glamorgan

Captain Charles Frederick Napier
Captain Charles Frederick Napier

This picture of Captain Napier is the only one known to be in existence.

Charles Frederick Napier was born in Ceylon in 1805, the first child of Major Charles Frederick Napier and Catherine Carrington, sister of Sir Edward Carrington, Chief Justice of Ceylon.

Charles initially became a cadet with the Woolwich Royal Military Academy and unable to afford a commission to the Royal Artillery, he joined the Rifle Brigade in 1825 at Dover Castle, marrying Emily Boughey Pinto Tomkinson on 7th December 1831. In August 1834 he was promoted Captain and was in charge of the 2nd Battalion of the Rifle Brigade at Usk and Monmouth, at the time of his appointment to the Police in August 1841.

Napier appears to have been very friendly with the Morgan family of Ruperra who were connected with the family of Lord Tredegar, and also with the family of Bosanquet, one of whom later became the Chief Constable of Monmouth. It was suspected that his involvement here was a deciding factor in his appointment to Chief Constable of the new Glamorgan Constabulary. A rival to the position pointed out that he was after all a total stranger to the county.

Whatever the truth or otherwise of this suggestion, there is no doubt that Napier was an excellent appointment. After spending a month travelling on horseback to all parts of the County, Captain Napier formed his plans for the best dispersal of his men. He decided to divide the County into 4 police divisions, with one police station in each, and to make his own headquarters at Bridgend.

Lewis continued to serve as the Superintendent of the Newbridge (or Pontypridd) division, and by the beginning of October 1841, Captain Napier had selected the other three - Edward J Davies of the Lancashire Police (at Merthyr), Edward Leveson-Gower, retired lieutenant of the Rifle Brigade (at Bridgend), and Captain Henry J Peake (at Neath). Leveson-Gower left after 2 months' service and was replaced by Edmund Corr, from the Metropolitan Police.

The first Chief Constable of the Glamorgan Constabulary took up residence in the first instance at Brynteg, now the Comprehensive School, on Ewenny Road, Bridgend. 1948 records show him to have been living then at the Vicarage on Newcastle Hill. Charles then moved to a spacious house called "Sarn Fawr" situated to the North of Bridgend. The house was later demolished to make way for a housing estate at Sarn near Aberkenfig.

Sarn Fawr
Sarn Fawr

Sarn Fawr House was Chief Constable Napier's residence during his time as head of the Glamorganshire Constabulary.

In addition to policing, Napier was also interested in public affairs. He became a member of the Board of Health for Bridgend, and was undoubtedly largely responsible for the subsequent official enquiry into the public health and sanitary arrangements of the town.

There is evidence too of his courage, most notably during the Rebecca Riots of 1843, but also on a more routine basis. The Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian of 25th November 1843, reported how Captain Napier risked serious injury by apprehending a runaway horse which was saddled to a small wagon.

However, although held in high esteem by the County Magistracy, he was never accepted by the County gentry as one of their "set." At one time he did seek social recognition in the interests of his wife, son and daughter and in particular his son, as his wife wished to place him in the church. In a letter to his aunt in 1845 Charles described Wales as a country where one is valued and rated according to one’s connections and asked her to acquaint him as to what branch of Napier his father belonged to and if he was at all related to Lord Elgin.

His frustration is apparent in this letter extract dated 6th October 1845, "I am sure, my dear Aunt will forgive my untiring anxiety on these points, and for the sake of my son's prospects, as it can prove otherwise than an annoyance and a stumbling block to a man, bearing our name especially, where constant enquiries are made as to our connection, to be perfectly silent and unable to reply. I know myself the vexation this has been to me, often times, and I could really wish to be enabled to hold out a better prospect to my son, who although I have no money to give will, I trust, ever maintain his name."

The aunt was able to trace connections with quite a few prominent Scottish families, including the Duke of Hamilton. There is however no evidence that this information served Charles’ purpose, as his son later went into the army - a decision which would lead to his premature death. Charles’s daughter, Emily Paulina, married William Howe, a labourer and ex-soldier from Coity in 1856. However although their marriage was frowned upon because Howe had the reputation of being a waster, family ties were maintained nevertheless.

With the death of his wife in 1855, Charles ceased to harbour the social ambitions he had been nurturing previously. He certainly had no interest for his own part for his life was dominated by his work. Bored with army life, Charles relished this new role as an outlet for his energies and administrative ability.

Chief Constable Napier died suddenly at the age of 62 from tuberculosis in January 1867, after catching a cold whilst waiting for a train at Cardiff Station. He had been attending a police finance committee meeting. His funeral drew the attendance of few not connected with the Force or his family.

The Funeral of the late Captain Napier took place on Wednesday 16 January 1867.

The cortege leaving Sarn Fawr consisted of:

1st Carriage - Mr Morgan, Cabinet Maker and Mr Evans, Draper

2nd - a large body of the force under Inspector Adams

3rd - the hearse

4th- a carriage containing the Venerable Archdeacon Lynch Blosse, Reverend D Evans and Dr Pritchard

5th - containing Dr Allen, T T Lewis, Esq, and M George Bird

6th - containing Superintendents Sadler, Wrenn, Thomas (Neath), and Thomas (Pontypridd)

7th - containing Mr and Mrs Howe, daughter and son-in-law

Then followed a few other carriages containing members of the household. They reached Newcastle Church at Bridgend just after 1pm.

Napier's grave can still be seen at the Church today. It is made of flat stone and features a foliated sword. His wife, Emily, and son, Lieutenant James Dundas Napier of the Royal Marine Light Infantry, are buried with him. His only son, for whom he had so tirelessly strived to obtain the connections necessary for his entry into the Church, predecessed him by only 4 years. Lieutenant James Napier received such bad injuries in the Crimea that he eventually died in 1863, at the age of just 30.

Napier's daughter, Emily Paulina Howe, the last surviving member of his family, died in 1890 at the age of 59 after a short illness.

Napier's death saw the end of an era. In the 25 years of his command the Force had risen in strength from 34 men to almost 200, the uniform had changed from that of the "Peeler" to the modern dress of helmet and tunic, and a number of police stations had been established.

These were located at Bridgend, Merthyr, Pontypridd, Neath, Aberdare, Maesteg, Caerphilly, Llantwit Major, Cwmgwrach, St. Nicholas, Mountain Ash, Dowlais, Briton Ferry, Llandaff, Pontardawe and Penarth.

The 6 "trial force" constables became merged in the County Force when it came into being in October 1841, and all but one became Sergeants in the new Force. Banner became Police Sergeant Number 3 and returned to Newbridge for duty. In September 1842 he was transferred to St Nicholas, where he remained (except for about a year in Maesteg 1848-1849) until 1852 when he appears to have become "mine host" at the Three Tuns, St Nicholas, the impressively thatched house opposite the police station. His place at Newbridge was taken by PC 29 William Hume. Hume did not last long for in March 1844 he gave evidence as a retired police officer. PC Hume was succeeded by PC 26 James Thomas, who was the first police officer to take up residence as Sergeant in the newly provided police station in Sardis Road (then called the Tramroad) early in 1845, becoming Superintendent of No 2 (Newbridge) District of the Force in 1847.