Some Captured History of Glanamman and Garnant
Murder at Star Supply Stores, Garnant
Thomas Thomas (2nd from left), manager of Star Stores, Garnant, c.1920.
The Star Supply Stores was a well known and rather upmarket chain store. The Garnant branch was sited at 184 Cwmamman Road, near the Arcade.
On the night of Saturday, February 12th, 1921, the store closed at 8:30 pm. There were five assistants; Miss Phoebe Jones, head assistant; Miss Millie Richards; Jack Morris; Emlyn Richards and Trevor Morgan. These went home, leaving the manager, Thomas Thomas, alone to complete the weekly accounts and empty the till. The till, that night, contained just over £128, which in todays terms would equate to approximately £3,165.
One of his assistants, 17 year old Millie Richards; the daughter of the local police sergeant, checked that the basement door was locked before she left at approximately 9:15 pm. Another assistant, Miss Phoebe Jones, had lodgings with the landlord of Star Stores, Morgan Jefferys, who resided next door to the shop with his wife and two sons. She left half an hour after Millie, at approximately 9:45 pm and went to a concert at Stepney Hall, Garnant, with a friend. She returned home at approximately 11:25 pm and seeing lights in the shop, peered in through the window. As nothing seemed amiss, she assumed that Thomas Thomas had merely forgotten to turn off the gas lights before going home.
Other members of the community, including two local policemen (Sergeant Thomas Richards and Constable Thomas), noticed a light in the shop as they went past. Again, they peeped in, but saw nothing amiss. Dr Jones passed the shop at 11 pm and also at 3 am and noticed the lights still on. At approximately quarter past ten that night, a woman named Diana Bowen, passing with three children, heard a shriek and the sound of footsteps running inside the shop. She assumed that it had an innocent explanation and did not raise the alarm.
The next morning, Thomas Thomas, who was slightly deaf and of delicate health, was found laying behind one of the counters, having been brutally murdered; the details being far too gruesome to be included on this site. The safe had been broken into and the cash takings had gone. The fact that there was no sign of a significant struggle led the police to believe that Thomas Thomas either knew his murderer, or was taken completely by surprise. One of the murder weapons, a boning knife, was found in a brook near the property.
The murder was investigated by the Deputy Chief Constable of Carmarthenshire, John Evans. He believed that if the crime had been committed by a local man, then it was only a matter of time before the killer spent the money and would be caught. The inquest, which opened on Tuesday 15th February at New Bethel Vestry, was therefore adjourned until March 8th, 1921.
Inspector Nichols and Sergeant Cummins, of Scotland Yard, attended the crime scene within three days of the event, but there were but few clues to be found.
The murderer was never caught, but the explanation was that the assailant had entered the building via the rear entrance, intending to carry out a robbery. Thomas Thomas had recognised the would be robber, who then set upon the store manager in a most savage way.
Thomas Thomas was a single man who lodged with Mr and Mrs Thomas Cooper Mount-Stephens at 2 Glanyrafon Villa's, Horney Road, (now known as Folland Road). This was a property which overlooked Garnant playing field and from which, Star Stores was visible. Mr Mount-Stephens was from London. For various reasons, Mr Mount-Stephens was rumoured to be one of the likely candidates for the murderer, though the reasons for this were purely circumstantial. At the inquest, he gave evidence that Thomas Thomas had told him that he would be late home and therefore had decided not to go to investigate when Thomas had not returned home, despite seeing the lights in the shop in the early hours of the morning.
The body was discovered by his head assistant, Phoebe Jones at approximately 9:10 am the following morning. She was awakened by her landlord, Mr Morgan W. Jeffreys, who had been told by one of his sons that the back door of Star Stores was open and the lights still on. He had instructed his son to call Thomas, but when there was no answer, they decided it would be best for Phoebe to enter the premises as she was employed there. She first noticed that the safe door was open and that papers were strewn around. To her horror, she then found Thomas' body lying in a pool of blood inside the shop and raised the alarm.
Doctor George E. Jones, who attended the scene at approximately 9:45 am, gave evidence at the inquest, stating that he believed that Thomas Thomas had been dead for about 11 hours by the time he arrived at Star Stores. Two days later, he and Doctor Rhys carried out a postmortem on the body and he stated that either of the three wounds that Thomas received would have caused death. He believed that death would have taken place within seconds of the assault. He believed that the assailant was probably right handed.
Rear of the property from where the assailant entered the store. Photo taken August 2008.
Thomas Thomas was well thought of and was described as being quiet and inoffensive, as well as an industrious store manager. He had held a similar position at both Llandeilo and Bridgend branches, having been with the company for approximately fifteen years.
On the day of his funeral, which was attended by several hundred people, all businesses closed for the day in Garnant and Glanamman. A short service was conducted at Horney Road by Rev. John Thomas, pastor of Bethesda. The cortege comprised of a motor hearse and up to twenty cars. Thomas Thomas was buried at Llangydeyrn parish church; the bearers were all members of the Star Supply Company inspectors or managers.
Arcade Terrace, Garnant 1994. Reputedly built by Mr Morgan Jeffreys.
Star Stores Sept 2007 (centre)
The Building was later used for many years as a private food store, owned by Stanley Michael, who was himself once a branch manager for Star Stores. Sadly, after his death, the building fell into demise, along with other buildings in the terrace.
Garnant: looking towards Evans Chemist and Star Stores on right hand side of picture, c.1925.
The National Library of Wales holds a collection of photographs by D. C. Harries, a local photographer. Amongs the collection are some macabre photographs of the murder scene. The photographer giving evidence at the inquest, however, was Mr William Matthews of Ammanford, who took photographs on the instructions of the police.
Geraint Griffiths, a singer and songwriter, who is related to Thomas Thomas, has written a song entitled "Siop Star", which is featured on his album "Havana." You can hear a preview of the song or purchase the track or the CD by clicking on the following link:http:
The old derelict Star Stores and Commercial Terrace buildings at Garnant were demolished in March 2012. Photographs of the demolition can be seen on a separate webpage which can be accessed by clicking on the image below. It is intended that the site should be used as a recreational area which will also contain much needed parking spaces.
The above information was taken from the Amman Valley Chronicle and "A Long Time Between Murders", by Owen Harries and also from the following website, which gives more information about Thomas Thomas' family. Many Thanks to Geraint Griffiths for the picture and info from his website: