Former police station, Abergavenny
Former police station, Baker Street
This building used to house the magistrates’ courts and police station, from 1871 until the police moved to Lower Monk Street. The cells were in the basement.
In 1877, PC Foxwell brought a drunken woman called Elizabeth Topham, wife of an engine driver, to the police station in a wheelbarrow. He had found her lying unconscious outside the Bridge End Inn. Captain Hill, chairman of the police court, said it was a disgrace to the town for her to be seen passing through “like a dead animal” on a wheelbarrow. The following year another woman, Elizabeth Evans, was brought to the station from near the Dog Inn, where she was drunk and creating a disturbance. When her husband arrived and demanded to take her home, he was told he was too drunk. He became violent and banged the station doors, until he too was locked up.
Until the 19th century, Abergavenny had only parish constables who were elected annually. As the population grew, demands for enforcement of law and order grew.
The Improvement Act of 1794 enabled the Town Commissioners (forerunners of the town council) to appoint their own watchman and night constables. Special constables were enrolled when public disorder was expected, for example during the Chartist protests (which culminated in many Chartists being shot outside the Westgate Hotel in Newport).
From 1854, Abergavenny had four constables, but the local constabulary merged with the county force in 1857. By 1881 there were nine constables, a police superintendent and a sergeant living in Abergavenny.
The old police station is now home to Martin’s Framing and Gallery. It was established in July 2005 by Martin Fletcher and displays art from Wales and further afield.
With thanks to Gill Wakley, of Abergavenny Local History Society
Postcode: NP7 5BB