Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Last Hanging in Wales

 photo gallows1370x279_zpscf5ed489.jpg

On 6th May 1958 Vivian Frederick Tweed became the last man in Wales to be hanged when he went to the gallows of Swansea prison for the murder of William Williams, a 73-year old postmaster from Fforestfach.
Teed already had a criminal record for offences such as theft and assault and had served two years in prison for those offences. He was regarded as an aggressive individual, indeed the crime for which he was hanged illustrated this. On a darker than usual night on 15th November 1957, Teed broke into the post office in Fforestfach in a desperate attempt to get money. He knew large amounts of money was often kept in the post office because he was one of the builders who had carried out work on the building. From the shadows he knocked on the side door, not thinking for a minute somebody was in but when the door opened and William Williams appeared, Teed struck him several times with a hammer he was carrying in his pocket.
The South Wales Evening Post said: "There were no less than 27 separate wounds on Williams's head. Some of these had been inflicted with such violence that the bones of the skull had been forced into the brain."
After the hanging, under the new rule, no notices were pinned to the main gate of Swansea Prison to announce that the execution had taken place.
It was raining on the morning, and at the appointed hour only a handful of people waited outside the gates. But residents of nearby streets were seen standing in their doorways, waiting for the final grim moment.

The chaplain of Swansea Prison, Reverend Leslie Norman, later attempted to apologise for Teed:

'He wasn't a murderer - he killed a man. If you told him that he was going to murder someone, he would have been shocked. He was caught in the act. They fought and one died. He had no intention of murdering him.'

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Lines Under Sentence of Death

Lines for one under sentence of death:

My brother - sit and think,
while yet some hours on earth are left to thee;
Kneel to thy God, who does not
from thee shrink,
And lay thy sins on Christ, who died
for thee.
He rests His wounded hand
with loving kindness, on thy
sin-stained brow,
And says - "Here at thy side I ready
to make thy scarlet sins as white
as snow.
"I did not shed My blood
For sinless angels, good and pure
and true;
for hopeless sinners flowed that
crimson flood.
My heart's blood ran from you,
my son, for you.
"Though thou hast grieved me sore,
my arms of mercy still are open
I still hold open Heaven's shining
Come then - take refuge in My
wounded side.
"Men shun thee - but not I,
come closer to me - I love my erring
My blood can cleanse thy sins of
blackest dye,
I understand, if thou canst only
Words fail thee - never mind,
The Saviour can read e'en a sigh or
I came, sin-stricken heart, to heal
and bind,
And died to save thee - to My heart
thou'rt dear.
Come now - the time is short,
longing to pardon and to bless,
I wait;
Look up to Me, My sheep so dearly
And say, "forgive me, e'er it is too

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Where The Gallows Once Stood

Photobucket Goal Entrance

This is one of the entrances to Carmarthen Gaol. This part of the prison is part of the castle and is much older than the part which looms over the town.

One of the towns gallows was situated here. The wall behind was the actual backdrop and saw many murderers swing.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Old Gaol


Front of the old jail in Carmarthen, now used as county council offices.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Carmarthen Court Window

The photograph below is of one of the large windows of the court which looked in on courts that were in session. Here is where huge crowds gathered to watch murderers recieve the death sentence.

On trial and on show. Photograph by author.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Carmarthen Gaol Closed

On the 13th February, 1922 the people of Carmarthen heard that their historic gaol was to close. The government were looking to save expenditure in all departments; docks, board of health, mines, police and prison. All through Wales and England none were left unaffected as government looked to save £75 million.

Report from The Western Mail, 13th February, 1922:

'The Home Office has issued an intimation that it proposes to close His Majesty's Prison, Carmarthen, as from the end of March.
This step is believed to be in accord with the present campaign to affect economies in the national expenditure as urged in the Geddes Report. Eight other prisons in the country, it is learned, are also to be closed.
The Geddes Committee report states regarding the closing of prisons (England and Wales): We understand that the Prison Commission are of the opinion that no further closing of prisons is considered to be practicable at the present, but in view of the release of Sinn Fein prisoners we think thisquestion should be very carefully examined.'

In those times Carmarthen gaol served the three counties of Carmarthen, Pembroke and Cardigan. It had played a major role in the history of the town and surrounding Counties, all the way from the earliest days of public executions.
The day following the announcement of Carmarthen's closure, Swansea prison announced that all of its female prisoners would be moved to Cardiff, making way for the inmates of Carmarthen gaol. There is no doubt that if the prison had not closed, the walls of Carmarthen gaol would have witnessed more condemned ending their days on the gallows.
With the transfer of inmates to Swansea Prison, executions in Carmarthen were ended. In March 1922, the famous Gaol finally closed and it was demolished in 1938 to make way for the new County Hall. In so doing, Sir Eric Geddes achieved in 1922 at Carmarthen what John Nash and all the others before had failed to do and that was to destroy one of the most historic landmarks in West Wales.

**** Life Comes Full Cycle ****

The gates to the gaol went missing after its closure and for over 70 years, their disappearance remained a mystery. Those gates that were once used to keep inmates locked up, returned to Carmarthen museum and are now left open for all to see and walk freely through. The last governor of the prison, Captain John Nicholas, had removed the 12 foot gates to adorn his countryseat, Maes Teilo, near Llandeilo. But now Maes Teilo was a nursing home, and they returned the gates to Carmarthen as it was felt that gaol gates were not an appropiate entrance to a nursing home.
History again coming its full cycle.