“I spoke to Port Talbot bank robbers”

23 March 2016

A Magnet story which recalled an attempted bank robbery has jogged one reader’s memory.

Arwyn Dummer was a boy when the bank robbers made their attempt

Arwyn Dummer was a boy when the bank robbers made their attempt

Arwyn Dummer, who now lives on Depot Road, Cwmafan, contacted us after reading our December edition to say he and his grandfather spoke to the would-be thieves during the 1957 robbery.

Read about the bank robbery attempt here

The attempted robbery was committed by brothers Martin and Dennis O’Brien, and involved them tunnelling under Station Road from a vacant shop towards the vault of the Midland Bank. Had they been successful, they would have walked away with £150,000, worth about £2.5m in today’s money.

“I was always with my Grampa,” said Arwyn, who was 8 years old in 1957. “He said I was like the shirt on his back. His name was Jim Ryan, and he would talk to anyone.

“My grandparents lived on Margam Terrace at the time, and we would stand together on the corner of Station Road and watch the world going by.

“We could see these two men working very hard carrying barrels of earth out of the back of the shop and dumping them in the yard. They were very chatty, quite free-talking really.”

In fact, the pair had whitewashed the shop’s windows, ripped up part of the floor, and were constructing a tunnel that was later admired by police for the quality of its workmanship. It even had electric lights.

“My Grampa said, ‘You’re working hard lads’, and they said yes, they were doing the shop out.”

Arwyn said the family “got the shock of our lives” when they discovered they had in fact been talking to a pair of bank robbers, not hard-working labourers.

“My Grampa used a bit of nice language when he found out. I can’t repeat what he said! We saw the pictures in the newspaper and we knew them straight away. We couldn’t believe it. We would never have guessed what they were up to.”

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