Public-Spirited County Policemen – A Difficulty Solved

During the early 1920’s the question of national police pay and conditions was considered which lead to a recommendation that policemen should work fewer hours and have more holiday, but the cost of providing enough policemen became an issue.  As the financial crisis in the country worsened the Home Secretary instructed the forces to make cuts in the police budget dispute the earlier recommendation.  The Dorset Police Standing Committee and Chief Constable discussed the question of how to satisfy both demands, eventually it was the Police Constables and Sergeants that provided the solution.

Group photograph of policemen
Taken at Bridport Police Station 1921/22
Back row PC 175 Alfred John Wintle ; 101 ?; PC 66 George Peach; PC 143 ?; PC 31 William J Jones; PC 135 ?; PC 64 William Charles Henry Carter
Front row PC 100 ?; Sgt Walter Bown; Supt. Beck; PC 36 William Meech acting Sgt; PC 107 Francis G Vatcher

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The “Vexed Question” of Motor-cars for Superintendents of Police

In this post Photographs of Beaminster Police station 1920 to 1925  I wrote that Grandad Beck may have had two horses to get his trap up the steep hills. From the Western Gazette, January 1920 in a report of the Standing Committee meeting I found conformation of this.  The Chief Constable repeatedly asked the committee to provide the Superintendents with cars, but they thought this unnecessary and extravagant.  We must remember that in the early 1920s the country was recovering from the First World War and the financial situation was difficult.  Prices were fluctuating, up then down. Farmers were having a hard time, especially in Dorset which had one of the highest county rates in the country.

Superintendents needed to travel around their Divisions not only to supervise the local men but also to attend the local courts and other events.  Grandad Beck attended courts at Beaminster, Bridport and Lyme Regis.  I would assume that appearance of the Superintendent, clean and tidy uniform, was desirable at these occasions. This may have been one reason the Chief Constable was not in favour of motor-cycles, the roads would have been very dusty in the 1920s.

Dorset Constabulary were having to cope with changing priorities and keep within their budget. In 1920 Weymouth had its own police force which merged with Dorset Police Constabulary in the interest of greater economy. We also learn that a Police Constable looked after the Superintendents horse or in Grandad Beck’s case horses.  It seems that it was the shortage of PC’s, that eventually lead to the horses being fazed out. I will write more about this next week.

Supt. Beck in uniform with his wife in a pony and trap
Superintendent (Grandad) Beck in uniform with his wife Rebecca in a horse and trap C.1920

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Fire! Get Out Your Buckets

Policemen were often involved in fighting local fires. From the family collection, the photograph below is of a fire at Burstock Grange, near Broadwindsor taken in 1921.  A terrible fire destroyed the thatched roof on the farm house.  Due to this fire, today only about a third of the farm house remains thatched.  I haven’t had time to research more but I thank the Facebook group ‘Memories of Bridport’ for helping me identify the location of the photograph and  Andrew Frampton who confirmed his family have farmed there since 1912.

Farm house with part of the roof destroyed by fire
Photograph taken by Robert Potts of Bridport. The policeman with a peaked hat is likely to be Grandad Beck

Fires at the Village of Loders

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Bridport Carnival “A Red Letter Day”

Bridport Carnivals in the 1920’s were major events in the town year. In June 1921 the day started early and ended late.  Celebration and fun for all the family, while raising funds for the local hospital.  Times were tough especially for the sick and needy, medial treatment had to be paid for or you needed to rely on charity. The country was going through a time of depression and unemployment following the first world war, so a day of fun was welcomed by the people of Bridport and the surrounding area.

Crowds seated and standing in front of a big house
Bridport News “For the mere man the boxing naturally drew a large number of spectators.” Grandad Beck top left of photo

Bridport carnival was celebrated in 1921 on Alexandra Day  Saturday 11 June.  Over £300 was raised for Bridport hospital from the varied activities on the day.  The day started with the traditional flower sellers, selling flowers door-to-door and to the people waiting to watch  the carnival processions at 2pm.

Blue skies and warm sunshine played an important part in the success of Alexandra Day… Flags fluttered in the breeze of an ideal June day- the shrill laughter of the youngsters echoes and re-echoed in the streets, while the enthusiasm of grown-ups was non the less remarkable.

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