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Unlocked Stories: Detective Top Cat

Published on | General

It is always a fulfilling moment for us when we are able to add missing puzzle pieces to a visitors history through our genealogical research – however, sometimes we are lucky enough to be sent personal histories by visitors who have more to add to our story!

Meet Detective Superintendent Trevor Cerdin Thomas; fondly known as ‘Top Cat’.

Born in 1922, in Blaengarw, Wales, Trevor served as a navigator for the RAF during World War 2; stationed in South Africa and Egypt. Upon returning home he sought to join the Welsh Police force, but his application was rejected as he didn’t meet their height criteria of 6 foot.

Instead, Trevor moved to the Midlands and joined the Birmingham Police in 1946, meeting new found friends in the Birmingham RFC. During this time he worked “very hard indeed” to pass his driving course, with a report stating that “by sheer perseverance he has become reasonably safe and confident”. In 1951 he transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department and was a prizewinner in the sergeants’ police duty examination.

Trevor’s hard work continued to pay off, with 15 commendations awarded by the Watch Committee for “good work in connection with the arrest of persons for crime” and awarded one guinea for courageous conduct! In 1952 Trevor attended a Home Office Detective Training Course in Preston, progressing to the Detective Training College at Ryton in 1956.

By 1967 he was back in Birmingham, based at Tally Ho – he became deputy head of the management services department and head of King’s Heath division CID at the time of the creation of the West Midlands force in 1974.

During his time here, Trevor became close friends with DS Charlie Ellsworthy – the gentleman proposed the idea that Birmingham police should create a collection of historical objects narrating our history; eventually leading to the West Midlands Police Museum!

Trevor’s daughter Gill provided this information and photographs, as well as a few stories she recalls from her father’s time in the service, including how he was commended for stopping a runaway horse during an Aston Villa football match! Another incident was when Trevor was called to a suspected burglary only to discover the culprit was a cat stuck behind a radiator!

“He passed away peacefully on 12 April 2012, 7 weeks after his 90th birthday weekend when he had about 200 visitors, a wonderful tribute to my wonderful father with a wonderful sense of humour.  He loved his cake with the truncheon and handcuffs on it.”

Gill Thomas