It was about now that the chief sent for me and asked if I would take charge of a sub Station on my own, a 1 man Station and he promised me promotion within 5 years. I said I would and after being at Gloucester for 12 years I was sorry to leave (although I used to go occasionally to Gloucester for my First Aid).
I was transferred to Twyning, Nr Tewkesbury in October 1933 and you can imagine us going to a house which stood on its own. I was now given over to the Coroners Office to teach me a few things that I would be doing whilst on my own. First I did mortuary work dissecting bodies brought in for Post Mortems. It wasn’t a policeman’s job but he had to assist the pathologist and Coroner which paid him to keep in with them and as I was goingto a district where there was no mortuary, I was going to find this useful. As in fact I did. Then there was the serving of summons, executing district warrants and Police Court routine. I moved to Twyning in October 1933 and the other man who I was relieving moved out. Well, we had left a town house and now came into a country house. No gas, electricity, no water mains, a pump was the supply, no flush toilets but a sentry box and bucket up the top of the garden about 30 yards from the back door. Anyway we settled in and made ourselves as comfortable as we could. We now had three boys, all school age and lucky enough the school was just across the way. The total inhabitants of Twyning was 800 so it was not long before we knew everyone and everyone knew us and they were a very friendly lot. I think that every house made home made wine and I thought that it was curious that some families could make barrels of wine when you want 4lb of sugar per gallon. It wasn’t long before the problem was solved, lorries passing through the district on the main road from the sugar refinery used to drop off a few sacks now and then to a certain person, who was eventually fined £ 10 for receiving. This did not stop the wine making and jolly good stuff it was too.
My biggest job was with gypsies and having 2 very large commons these gypsies used to camp on with their Caravans. They were on the move to get employment as fruit pickers, bean pickers and what they could get. I used to let them stop 1 night and then get off next day and during the season I used to get, on an average, 200 caravans to move on. They got to know me and I knew them and we knew where we stood and only once did I seek help to move a crowd off and in the 4 years that I was at Twyning I never had to take one to court in Tewkesbury. I had fight or two but that was by the way and that was how I used to keep order if necessary.
It was not long before I had my first great experience. A business man had come from a town about 50 miles away on to Brockeridge Common in his car and for no apparent reason he got out of his car and drank poison (pure nicotine) I was sent for by a farmer who had seem him sitting in his car half an hour before. I gave the farmer 3/- for carrying the body to a disused school room which I had selected for a makeshift mortuary. I notified the Coroner who lived at Newnham on Severn about 40 miles away and he gave me the necessary instructions. Yet there was a Coroner and mortuary at Tewkesbury, but I was not allowed to take the body there as they each have their own district. I had a Doctor from Tewkesbury come out to do the P.M and it was his first PM on his own but between us we managed. I took some parts to Gloucester to be analysed and found out what kind of poison it was. I squared everything up and his next of kin wished to have him taken to his home, which as I have said was about 40 miles away. The local undertaker made the necessary arrangements and that was that, chapter closed.
Then I had another funny experience. A small boy, about 4 ½ yrs, was nursed by his father on a Sunday afternoon when the boy suddenly died for no apparent reason. The doctor was called but could not give a certificate as dying from natural causes so the doctor rang me and gave me the facts. I then informed the Coroner who ordered a Post Mortem but in this case he ordered a special pathologist from Cardiff and his assistant. I had the care of the little boy. I won’t go into details and a PM was carried out most thoroughly and it was decided that he had died of dropsy.
Twyning was a district of surprises and the parishioners, if they saw anything or heard anything, they would tell me and although I used to take some of them to Tewkesbury Court, they would not bear animosity. One day a local bought a pedal cycle from a man on the main road and it wasn’t long before I knew also the description of the man. It turned out that I had received a phone call in the morning about a robbery at Thornbury and this man seemed to fit the description. I followed the way the man had gone 4 hours before and into Worcestershire. I rang 2 stations to say I was on the main road in Worcestershire giving chase to a man I wanted to interview. Eventually, I saw a man lying down on the grass verge about 4 miles from my district and, being a very warm day he had his coat off and was asleep, and he had a tell tale scar on his elbow which tallied with the description of the man I wanted. I woke him up and at first he denied any knowledge of the affair but after a little coaxing he admitted the lot including stealing the pedal cycle he had sold to my parishioner. I stopped a passing lorry going in the direction of Tewkesbury and he kindly took me, my prisoner and pedal cycle from Twyning into Tewkesbury where he was handed over to the Thornbury Police and dealt with by them. I received a commendation from the Chief for this.
About now my 3 boys were going to Twyning School and the Headmaster, Mr Fletcher, was a very clever man. He always had the honour of getting the boys he selected for Grammar School exam through as was the case of my eldest boy who was 10 years and a few months. He left the school and used to cycle to Tewkesbury Grammar School, a distance of about 3 miles. My youngest son, Philip, was unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident outside the school. A boy on a cycle ran into him and the pedal caught his upper lip and tore it across. I was on the spot living only a few yards away and in less than half an hour his lip was being stitched up by Dr. Loan of Tewkesbury, who was going into his surgery when I arrived there. There was hardly any scar to be seen after it had properly healed. What experiences we were having at this Station. I became President of the British Legion Section and Captain of the Billiard League. There was a good village hall about 100 yards from the Station where the villagers held all their functions, dances, whist drives and youth club. It was a very happy village where everyone knew everyone and their business.
A rather nasty accident occurred on the main road when a motor cyclist was run over by a Motor Coach on a Sunday. I remember it so well being a fine afternoon and a PC from Tewkesbury coming out to give me a hand. As I have said before, I had no mortuary and I had to find one because the Trustees of the old school had stopped me from using their property for such purposes. In this case it shows how primitive we were. I had to go to the midwife, who has a cottage and a lot of property, and I had to sweep out one of her hen houses and put a floor board on a large box. That was where the relatives had to come to identify the body and that’s how it had been going on for many years and I could not get it altered. Anyhow I got through that episode. Verdict was Accidental Death.
I was called to a fire which had occurred at Puckrup Hall, the residence of the Squire of the Village, The Rev Wigan. The Fire Brigade soon had the fire out which occurred at about 9pm. Afterwards the Squire entertained all that had helped to sandwiches and drink. He was a real old sport, he ran a Farmhouse and his estate ran into many acres which was looked after by his Bailiff and I used to pay his woods frequent visits with my gun and the cartridges were supplied. My Superintendent and an Inspector used to come here from Cheltenham for his sport but I was never there with them.
I had three public houses and 1 off licence in my district so we were well catered for and they were very well kept. During the fishing season we used to get a considerable number from Birmingham on a Sunday and I must say some Sundays it was like an Annual Holiday. Sometimes we would have about 20 coach loads come in the morning to start their competitions etc and leave about 7 pm. There was other occasions which were sad and I will not relate and there was a lot of happy events.