On November 21st 1919 Grandad Beck took over his duties as Police Superintendent of the Bridport Division from Superintendent Saint who retired the day before. Prior to this Grandad Beck had been in charge of the Blandford Division, this was a promotion as the Bridport Division was larger than Blandford’s. The Bridport Division consisted of 2 Borough town, Bridport and Lyme Regis and the Market Town of Beaminster. The Division police station was built at Beaminster around 1862. The choice of location was most likely because, as a borough, Bridport had their own police force. Grandad Beck’s new division consisted of 3 Sergeants (one each at Bridport, Lyme Regis and Beaminster) and 22 constables, 11 of these based in the rural villages. Blandford was smaller with 1 Sergeant and 10 constables, 5 in nearby villages. It is unlikely that either of these divisions had their full number of constables, see last weeks post.
Blandford were sorry to see Supt. Beck leave, from the report on 21 November 1919 in the Western Gazette. During his tenure of office here Mr. Beck has gained the esteem of all, not only for his unfailing courtesy, but also for his tactful and impartial handling of the many matters which came under his attention. At the last Petty Session that he attended the Chairman, Colonel U. E. Parry Okeden, said the Bench were sorry to see him leave. They understood the Chief Constable wanted him for a larger district.
This was great for Grandad Beck, but I don’t expect his daughter was so enthusiastic. I am sure Rebecca, his wife, was delighted with the promotion even though it meant moving away from Blandford. Blandford was specially to her as their son Lionel was buried in the church yard and not being able to visit the grave would have made her sad. For my Grandmother May at 18 years of age, I just can’t believe she would have been happy with the move. Everything was smaller, the station, the town, the shops and the number of young men. During the war, May had worked in Blandford telephone exchange, so she may have had to give up her job.
Grandad Beck and his family lived in the Police Station in both towns. At Blandford the station, housed a Sergeant, 2 constables and their families as well as the Superintendent and his family. At Beaminster the Sergeant had a separate house in the town, while one constable and his family lived at the Police Station (1911 census). Daily life may not have changed much for the women but there were less opportunities to meet people and make friends.
The two towns were and are very different, Blandford is the largest. From Kelly’s 1920 directory I would estimate that Blandford had at least three times as many and a greater variety of shops. It is likely that the shops were smaller at Beaminster, Rebecca and May must have been disappointed at the size of the town. To get to a larger town they would have needed to travel to Bridport, 6 miles away, either by getting a lift with Grandad Beck, in the horse and cart or using the Motor Mail which went to Bridport daily. Blandford had it’s own cottage hospital and railway station, Beaminster had neither.
One of May’s concerns would have been the lack of young men. So many young men had been killed in the war (WW1) that the papers carried headlines like ‘2 million surplus women’. Young women could no longer expect to marry, being a wife and mother wouldn’t happen for many of May’s contemporaries. Blandford had a Army Camp near by so there would have been lots more opportunities to meet young men. I think Grandad Beck would be relieved, at Beaminster it was easier for him to keep an eye on who May was seeing. Finding a suitable young man for May would have concerned her mother, who had been 35 years old before she had married. I am sure May would have missed her friends from Blandford, in Beaminster there were fewer girls of her own age and less places they could go to meet. Kelly’s 1920 lists over 100 private residents in Blandford and about 60 in Beaminster.
So what does a young girl do, well from the photographs she played tennis, read, walked her dog, gone to church on Sundays and helped her parents. I don’t know if she had employed work in Beaminster but I doubt it, I am sure she helped her Mum around the home and her father to grow a few flowers and vegetables in the yard. Life for Rebecca and May would have been quieter and they probably would have seen less of Dad as well.
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Ref: Quotes in italics
Western Gazette 21 November 1919