Memories of a Snowshill Special Constable

Thanks to Hefin Williams

We had an email from Hefin Williams offering us a photograph of his father at a police dinner in 1964.

Police Dinner 1964. Special Constable Henry Williams is at the back on the right wearing the dark suit and tie.
(Gloucestershire Police Archives URN 11227)

We are not sure who any of the other people are in the photograph if you recognise anyone please get in touch.

The photograph arrived at the archives along with some wonderful stories.

Hefin says: My dad Henry Williams was a Special Constable at Snowshill, he moved there in 1948 from Brecon to work as a shepherd and  became a Special Constable at around the same time. I know that he was a Special in 1952 as that was the year that I was born and there is a photo of him in uniform holding me in his arms.

He was awarded a faithful service medal after 9 years service which would have been about 1960.


Long Service medal for Special Constabulary.


When they moved Mrs Williams  was asked to run the village Post Office on a temporary basis until they could find someone to take it over permanently. She kept the post office until she retired in 1988 after 39 years. In the 1960s and 70s they had a nuclear fall out warning system (usually found in police stations) and a weather station in the garden.

According to Hefin, Dad’s supervisory officer was the Constable in Charge at Stanton Police station which at that time came under Chipping Campden Station. Chipping Campden had an Inspector and a substantial number of constables as well as a magistrates court, the main magistrate at the time was Mr Everett agent and farm manager for the Springhill Estate.

Although there was very little crime in Snowshill there seems to have been quite a bit going on for a Special Constable to attend to.

During elections there was always a police presence at the polling station, which in Snowshill’s case was the village hall. Special Constable Williams would be there and the local Member of Parliament, Nicholas Ridley, would thank him and shake hands with everyone who was there during his visit.

Every Easter Worcestershire and Gloucestershire Constabularies would jointly police the North Cotswold point to point at Springhill as the county boundary ran through the estate. Special Constable Williams would do point duty for traffic control and wore white gloves and armbands, he also had to wear a heavy coat as it usually snowed at that time of the year.

Hefin remembers many of the regular officers stationed in the area with ‘fond’ memories of Police Constable Lee who he, as a boy,  describes as intimidating, zealous and professional. During his time at Stanton a local farm workshop was broken into through the roof but nothing was taken. with Special Constable Williams’ local knowledge and Police Constable Lee’s very thorough investigations, it turned out that the local boys had been playing football and yes the ball had gone on the roof and an older boy had climbed up to retrieve it and had gone through the fragile roof. Police Constable Lee wanted to pursue the matter but according to Hefin, “was persuaded by my father and the local farmer to drop the case. I would imagine Police Constable Lee became a Chief Constable somewhere as he certainly had the zeal to rise high through the ranks.”

Stantons most known and more recent constable was Police Constable Maurice Newman.

He was well known to the Williams family spending time with Special Constable Williams even after his retirement.




He appeared to be second in command to Sergeant Des Gay who became the officer in charge at Chipping Campden once it was no longer an Inspector led station.

The locals used to call Sergeant Gay the sheriff as he was very much the authority figure in the area.




Another story was about the Snowshill Hill Estate. This was owned by a family member of the Bourne and Hollingsworth department store in Oxford Street London. At the time they were big dairy farmers with a large herd of pedigree Ayrshire cattle. As my dad was a shepherd they knew each other very well. When their daughter was getting married it was arranged for my dad to patrol the house and guard the house contents and wedding presents while two regular constables patrolled the grounds and farm entrance. whether they were happy that a Special had the nice cosy job while they were outside I don’t know but I believe lots of drinks and food were supplied to all three upon the guests return from the church.

Hefin says that in 1967 a gamekeeper came to the house asking for my dad. I explained both him and my mum were out an. He told me that he had found a dead man at Welshman’s Hedge about a mile from Snowshill. I don’t know why but I didn’t want to ring 999 so I called Campden, no reply. I then rang Stanton but Police Constable Newman was out although his wife took a message and said she would sort it. When I told Sergeant Gay the story many years later he told me that all the policemen in the North Cotswolds were playing cricket at Cirencester at the time of my call and they had left the whole of the North Cotswolds in the charge of a Police Cadet who was out on patrol when I phoned. When they got the message from Mrs Newman the  sergeant told them to get to the scene as quick as possible and certainly before a Superintendent got there from Cheltenham.

The newspapers of the time  said that it was a case of a country doctor taking his own life after killing his lover.

Another case that Special Constable Williams was involved with was the fascist gathering in Guiting Woods which made front page news in the Daily Mirror.

Hefin remembers that after the woods were cleared,  he and his father  drove through a couple of weeks later to find the army on manoeuvres in the same area.

Another local character was Police Constable Martin Crump who was relentless in his pursuit of speeding motorists.

These are wonderful memories of a time when a Special Constable patrolled on his own in full uniform with a flat cap, rather than a helmet and a whistle. What good a whistle would be when the nearest police officer would be miles away is anyone’s guess.

This page was added on 18/10/2023.

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