Posts Tagged ‘£300 stolen’

Murder most foul in Pontypool

August 25, 2008

I always regarded Pontypool as a quiet sort of place and not to be compared in any way with Chicago or London in the criminal league.

The first crime I remember – a relatively minor one – was perpetrated against my own family only a year or two after we’d moved to School Lane. My father was a keen gardener and had planted a small orchard of seven apple trees in the half of the garden near the house. We were all thrilled when quite a number of apples appeared on the trees and we watched their growth with great interest waiting for the day we could pick and eat them.

One Sunday evening, on returning home from Park Terrace Methodist Church, we were dismayed to see that someone had taken advantage of our absence and had picked every apple, except one, off the trees. At that time the field was next to our house and the fence consisted of only three strands of wire which made for easy access.

My father made extensive enquiries of local children, some of whom had seen the dirty deed, and he was told that “It was Paddy Hanford’s gang”. Apparently he was a character who lived somewhere in the Broadway area. As a result of this, my father bought a great dane dog to discourage this sort of thing from happening again. We called him Ras, and when he was a year old, he stood six feet tall on his hind legs. Naturally we had no further trouble with intruders of any sort.

But the crime which shook all Pontypool to the core was the murder of William Alfred Lewis known as “Dripping” Lewis. He was a 59 year old bachelor who lived at Plasmont, Conway Road. He was known as “Dripping” because of his liking for eating dripping sandwiches which were quite popular at that time. In my four journeys to and from Town School every day I passed his house regularly. As there was a high stone wall around it and a large gate in the corner, little could be seen of the house itself so it was easy to pass it without really noticing it.

A clipping from the Free Press at the time of the murder

Mr Lewis had been a draper at Cwm, Ebbw Vale until 1931. His unmarried sister lived with him at Plasmont until she died in 1936. The body of the victim was discovered by Thomas Brimble, a builder and decorator of Abersychan on Wednesday 24th May 1939. He had been working for some time on renovation work at Mr Lewis’s house. The milkman told Mr Brimble that the milk he had left on Monday was still in the two jugs and had not been used. That was when Mr Brimble went into the house to investigate. He found Mr Lewis’s body sprawled across his bed with a pillow over his face. He contacted the police at once.

Scotland Yard was informed and four of their officers came to investigate. They discovered that Mr Lewis had suffered several blows to the back of the head but could find no weapon nor any other clues. They later discovered that about £300 was missing from the house: £200 in rents from the houses and shops in the area owned by Mr Lewis and £100 worth of gold jewellery.

A post mortem later established that Mr Lewis had died on Monday 22nd May from shock brought on by his severe injuries.

The murderer was never caught but there was a tremendous amount of talk about the event for a long time afterwards.