The Bridgend Depot was housed in the old Fire Station of the armaments factory in the grounds of Glamorgan Constabulary at Waterton Cross.
In 1966 we were heavily involved with the communications following the Aberfan Disaster at Merthyr Tydfil. We were accommodated in a terraced house in Moy Street for several weeks as well as Eglwysilian and East Glamorgan Hospital.
The reorganisation of County boundaries throughout Wales brought a heavy demand on the workforce with the formation of remote maintenance units and the employment of Wireless Mechanics and Aerial Riggers, e.g. Dyfed Powys Police covered two thirds of Wales with thirteen hilltop sites and three VHF channels, all controlled from Carmarthen.
When Glamorgan Police moved to a new control room it had to be all personally hand built using the Albert Sipson Radio Operator and Incident Officer 2A Key and Lamp Units and an abundance of ancillary equipement.
Bridgend and the sub-depot at Colwyn Bay also had many weeks of high security involvement during the education of Prince Charles at Aberystwyth and eventually his Investiture at Caernarvon in 1969.
In Aberystwyth we were accommodated in almost derelict buildings within the traffic yard compound. All the hotel accommodation in Aberystwyth had been taken by security staff and Police officers. It was also necessary for a select few of us to have driving instructions and tests in order that we could drive the Police Mobile Column 4x4 Vehicles to and from Aberystwyth.
During the Investiture we set up and lived for twenty four hours in a mobile hilltop site in an area of bad radio communications at Cross Foxes. This had temporary radio links across the water to the Lleyn Peninsula.
As a depot we were involved with Swansea University during trials for CFAM working using F300 transmitters. Wyn Crompton was in charge and we set up a control station on the A48 lay-by at Pyle. The remote stations used were at St.Hilary, Eglwysilian and Swansea University.
In 1972 Bert Green was promoted in situ from CWT to RWE to replace the retiring Joe Chamberlain. I was fortunate to be promoted to fill the CWT vacancy. Ralph Oglesby had filled the vacancy for a short period of time, but withdrew from the opportunity and returned to his old station. We had several CWT’s at Bridgend during the 1980’s Pete Pinel, Laurie Elliott, Bryn Oliver, Gordon Wyatt and Dave Rees. Peter and Bryn later got promotion to RWE (RTE).
1977 when Bert Green retired as RWE, I was again fortunate to be promoted to fill this vacancy. At about this time we were also heavily involved in moving the depot some three miles to ex-REME workshops at Litchard Cross, Bridgend. Although this was a difficult time with endless meetings with PSA and other contractors, it was a good exercise which gave us purpose-built facilities and an independence we had not previously enjoyed. This location has now been developed as a housing estate following major evacuation of radio-active sub-soil.
Unfortunately during early 1990 it was necessary to commence the closure arrangements of the Bridgend Depot, since the majority of our customers had decided to make alternative maintenance arrangements. This was a very emotional and stressful time for all members of staff, who were being asked to retire gracefully but continue to provide a service until the last day. I must place on record that the co-operation and understanding of the staff at this time, although difficult to understand and accept, the objective was achieved well within the timescale allocated to it. We all enjoyed a couple of months of “gardening leave”.
Having come to Wales some forty two years ago, I have no regrets and have made many good friends and long-standing relationships.
The greatest surprise of all was following my early retirement in 1990, I was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List of 1990 for services to the Home Office. I attended Buckingham Palace with my wife and mother. I would like to think it was awarded for all the achievements of the Welsh regional staff, who proudly provided an excellent service to all its user services right up to the last day.
Although I have enjoyed good health most of my life in March 2006 I needed quadruple heart bi-pass surgery and August 2007 needed two major operations, one for an aneurysm, which was more severe than first thought, and the second operation the day after for removal of part of the colon. Although it is only seven weeks ago, I appear to have made a remarkable recovery and I expect to be fully fit by Christmas 2007.
Roy Hodgkinson MBE
1st October 2007
Acknowledgement: Roy Hodgkinson