Old police station, Bethesda

button-theme-crimeOld police station, Bethesdabutton_lang_welsh

bethesda_police_stationThis building, now home to Copa Hair & Beauty and Caffi Seren, was Bethesda’s police station from at least 1860. Previously the town’s “lock up” was used. A sergeant and a constable lived here with their families. In 1911 the sergeant’s accommodation extended to seven rooms, while the constable had to make do with just three!

They dealt with misdemeanours including counterfeit coins, being drunk in charge of a horse and cart, racing omnibuses, bad language, running a lottery and poaching!

The police station is visible on the right in both of the old postcards shown here.

They were members of the community, neighbours and friends, but the great quarry strike of 1900-1903 strained relations to breaking point. Where five policemen had walked the beat, now 20 to 30 were present and an investigation into the actions of the police during the strike was severely critical. The military was also deployed. On 3 January 1903, a large, noisy crowd gathered outside this building in protest at the arrival of a squadron of Dragoon Guards.

In February 1903, Sgt Rowland Rowlands and his family moved in. A month later, a storm caused one of the three tall chimneys to crash through the roof into the constable’s accommodation.

bethesda_high_street_and_police_stationSgt Rowlands, a member of Bethesda Chapel, made headlines in 1906 giving evidence in a prosecution for unlicensed beer selling. He said he had tasted the beer and it was good (laughter in court). His only complaint was “the smallness of the quantity he had been allowed to taste” (Loud laughter). Asked how he knew it was beer, Rowlands explained: “By the taste, sir, and because I have had a drop many a time before to-day” (Roars of laughter).

One night in April 1906, Sgt Rowlands was surprised by “furious screams in his vestibule”. Mr Edwards, a butcher, had locked his wife in one of the station’s cells because she was drunk! The sergeant reprimanded Mr Edwards and released Mrs Edwards, ordering her home. But when she said she was going to the chapel to hear her son sing, Sgt Rowlands told her “in a deep voice that if she did not go home he would lock her up officially”.

Postcode: LL57 3AR    View Location Map

With thanks to Dr Hazel Pierce, of The History House, and to Haf Jones & Pegler for help with images. Sources include 'The North Wales Quarrymen 1874-1922' by RM Jones (Cardiff, 1981), pp. 245, 252

Website of Copa Hair & Beauty (Facebook)