As it is too hot for me to garden and Wimbledon is on, so I thought I would show you some photographs, with a tennis theme. I do not take after my Grandmother (May Beck), I can’t hit a ball and I dislike tennis! By looking at the photographs both May and Grandad Beck played tennis and it has been difficult to choose which photographs to show you. These are all showing a mystery couple, well at least to me.
The first photograph must be special as it was in a frame, it shows Rebecca and Grandad Beck on the left and May Beck on the right, but who are the other two? I am hoping someone in the family will recognise them. As this was framed we can assume they were close to the Becks. Most likely one of them is a member of Rebecca or Grandad Beck’s family. It is likely these were taken between the end of WW1 and May’s marriage in 1925.
Is this the end of this blog? Well, I have achieved what I set out to do, written about my Great Grandfather’s career in the police force. With over 40 years service Grandad Beck is one of the longest serving policemen in Dorset Police. This blog has exceeded my expectations when I started back in January 2016. I have written more than I expected, over 60 posts, one a week. I have ‘met’ cousins, I didn’t know before and made some new friends. I have learnt about Dorset history, my home town of Bridport and my ancestors.
As I would expect the further back I go the harder it is to find information. Nonetheless, it is surprising what can be found, a useful article from 1878 tells us something about Grandad Beck’s childhood. We can only guess at why he became a policemen but we do know that this was a good move and that the job was to suit him. Having written about him as a Superintendent, it is harder to imagine the raw 19-year-old starting his training as a Constable at Dorchester Police Station.
Childhood and education
Grandad Beck was born and spent his childhood in the village of Buckland Newton, Dorset. He would have been educated with his siblings in the local village school. The Elementary Education Act 1880 set compulsory attendance from 5 to 10 years. Children between 11 and 13 were allowed to be employed providing they had a certificate to show they had reached the educational standard. Buckland Newton’s school was built in 1857 and had an average attendance of 107 pupils in 1881. The school mistress was Mrs Mary Ann Smith. (Kelly’s Directory 1889). In 1878 Grandad Beck’s father (Eli) won two prizes, awarded by the Labourers Improvement Society for regularly sending his children to school and Sunday school. Eli and Frances Beck had three children in 1878 Charles aged 7 years, Olive aged 4 years and Grandad Beck (Arthur Percy) aged 3 years. Therefore this would have referred to Charles’ school attendance.
Rebecca Illes and Arthur Percy Beck married at Buckland Newton Church, in Dorset on Wednesday 26th August 1896. Grandad Beck’s father Eli and his sister Olive signed the church register. I don’t have any early photographs of Rebecca, the ones below were taken in the early 1900s.
Grandad Beck and Rebecca Illes married at Buckland Newton on 26 Aug 1896. Grandad Beck had just been moved to Lyme Regis, Dorset as a 21-year-old police constable. At 35 years old Rebecca must have been anxious to start a family but it was 2 years later before she announced the happy news.
Lionel Howard Beck
On Tuesday 21 March 1899 Lionel Howard was born at Lyme Regis police station. Three days later he was baptised by Rev. William Jacob, the church register notes this was a private baptism. A private baptism suggests that Lionel was unwell and the baptism took place at the police station. Rebecca would have been 37 years old, which would have been considered old for a first baby.
Despite a difficult start in life, Lionel continued to thrive. I believe this is a photograph of Lionel. It is on the first page of one of the ‘best’ albums and if you look careful at the photograph I showed at Christmas you will see this photograph on the piano.
Laura May Beck
Two years later May, my grandmother was born on Friday 10th May 1901 also at Lyme Regis police station.
She was baptised Laura May on 14 July at St. Michael’s church Lyme Regis by the same vicar who had baptised her brother. This photograph is most likely of Lionel and May, a watering can has featured in a photograph of Lionel before.
In an era that children were often named for relatives or Godparents, I can find no mention of the names chosen by Grandad Beck and Rebecca. May was most likely chosen for the month she was born in.
I wonder how much time Grandad Beck had to spend with his children when they were young. As a police constable, he would have often worked 15-20 hours a day without a break, seven days a week. If a prisoner needed to go to Dorchester goal then the constable would walk the nine miles to Bridport, catch a train to Dorchester, after handing the prisoner over, he would return the same way. Often with the prospect of going back on duty when he arrived back at Lyme Regis. Grandad Beck told the Bridport News, on his retirement, that he had done this duty a number of times during his time at Lyme Regis. As the family lived in the police station I think that Grandad Beck would have found it possible to at least see his wife and children for a few minutes in-between duties.
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Bridport News: 31 March 1899 p8; 24 May 1901; 19 July 1935
Grandad Beck and his wife Rebecca lived in the police station at Lyme Regis from 1896 to 1903. The station was in Horse Street, renamed Coombe Street in about 1901. This is now a private house. Sergeant Henry Battrick with wife his Mary, Son William aged 9 and Daughter Elizabeth 8 also lived in the station in 1901.
In 1902 the Standing Committee approved repairs to several police stations around the county including Lyme Regis. Grandad Beck and the family may have benefited from the £25 10 shillings spent on the repairs. The contract was awarded to A.O.F. Wisecombe.
1902 was also notable for the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on 9 August. The coronation had to be postponed from 26 June as the King was ill and required surgery. The Chief Constable authorised £25 for decorating the 17 police stations in the county for the occasion.
As a Police Constable, there are fewer reports in the newspapers for me to follow Grandad Beck’s career. The only one I found of him, giving evidence in court, was in 1900.
The Dorset Standing Joint Committee spent considerable time discussing the monitoring of passenger numbers on the steamboats. Though I can find no mention of him, I am sure that Grandad Beck would have been one of the P.C.’s deployed to count the people, at the Cobb, Lyme Regis. I thought you would enjoy a couple of photographs taken aboard the steamboat, though these are most likely from when the family lived at Beaminster in the 1920s. There is a link at the bottom of the page to more photographs of the steamboat Victoria at Lyme Regis.
Grandad Beck, his wife and two children moved to Upwey, between Weymouth and Dorchester in 1903. The new house at 6 Prospect Place, a terrace of cottages was just off the main road between Dorchester and Weymouth. The unadopted dead-end lane, with the cottages on the southern side, has recently been described as ‘one of the last few quaint terraced cottage streets left in Weymouth’.
Today I am going to share some family photographs taken at different houses. The locations and the dates are not given but from the ages of Lionel and May they are likely to have been taken between 1907 and 1909. This would make Lionel between 8 and 10 years, May between 6 and 8 years.
A Favourite Garden
The first photograph was a favourite, as it appears in several albums. This doesn’t look any of the places we know Grandad Beck lived. Both the Dorchester and Upwey houses are mid-terrace and prior to Upwey, they lived in the police station at Lyme Regis.
Policemen are often called as witnesses in court cases, this is useful for me, to trace Grandad Beck’s movements around the county. While researching today’s post I found Grandad Beck was a witness for a case involving Upwey in July 1903. Which means that the family moved from Lyme Regis sometime previously or possibly at the end of 1902. I had thought they moved the following year in 1904 and this post mention the later date. The further back I go the less information I can find, the newspaper reports are shorter and a Constable appears less often then Superintendents.
From 1903 to 1908 I have written about four cases, the first three Granddad Beck as P.C. Beck is mentioned and the last one because it was unusual. Upwey was an interesting posting, in 1903 this was under the Portland Division which, until the New Portland Police station was built, held the divisional courts in Weymouth. Weymouth had its own Borough Police force, this must have been a challenge for Grandad Beck. Traffic and people moved between the two which required the two forces to work together on some cases. In addition the railway went though Upwey, this would have been the first time Grandad Beck had a beat on a railway line. These cases give us a good idea of the range of incidents that had to be dealt with by the police. Portland had a large naval base and visiting sailors caused the problems in the first case.
I have chosen 2 photographs from the albums that are likely to have been taken around this time. Unfortunately we have no clue as to where they were taken.
At the beginning of a New Year, many of us think about booking our holidays, I am sure the Grandad Beck was no different. Up until 1909 the only time he had off was 5 days annual holiday. One year the family went to Bowleaze Cove near Weymouth. I know this because Lionel and May very kindly built a sandcastle. Little did they know how useful this would be over 100 years later. Thank you Granny!