Preparing for the Dorset Police Sports Day

I have written before about the Dorset Police Athletic Club, when  in 1935 Grandad Beck, as vice-president, said he was the last serving member of the club.  He had been an active member from the first meeting in 1896.  Though he enjoyed the sports and supported them, the only reference to him taking part was when he mentioned the cycle races and loosing.  During the years he was a Detective at Dorchester (1908-1915) it is likely that he took the photographs that the family still have. In this post I will share some of these photographs with you.

Weymouth had a separate Borough Police Force at the time and joined the Dorset Constabulary sports day.  I understand that on occasion the event may have been held in Weymouth.

Photograph of sports day
Photograph of the sports day, showing the stands built by the tug-of-war team

Building the Stands

The Annual Sports Day was a grand affair and required the building of stands for the spectators.  When I first saw this photograph I couldn’t work out what the policemen were doing. I have found out, thanks to the kind researcher Ian, that the Dorchester tug of war team built the stands each year. This looks as though it was something they took pleasure in and enjoyed.

Men inside half built stands
Dorchester Recreation Ground, Summer C. 1914

Another photograph showing the fun they were having and the camaraderie.  Though this would have been hard work, it was a day off from police duties.

Men resting on wooden tables wearing noveltyhats
Some of the men on the front row have been identified as: left to right Sergt. Major Arthur Swatridge; PC Tom Harvey; ?; PC Walter Bleathman; PC Wm Guppy

Competitions and Prizes

Most police forces around the country held sports days, the Dorset one was a major event in the local calendar.  Many shops and other businesses gave prizes and from this picture you can see how many prizes were awarded and the variety.  I can’t imagine anyone being pleased with a photograph of our Queen these days. Here a framed picture of King Edward VII (therefore this is 1909 or earlier) was presented as a prize.

Clocks, knifes, pictures on a table with gentleman seated
Prizes for the winners c1908 Seated gentleman unknown

One of the most popular competitions was that of tug-of-war, police teams up and down the country, vied against each other.  In the 1908 Olympics, all the British teams entered in the tug-of-war, came from the Police forces. Three British Police teams won the medals that year, Gold: City of London Police; Silver: Liverpool Police; Bronze: Metropolitan Police.

Locally, both teams from other forces and the local divisions pulled against each other.  In 1911 the Portland Division won at the Annual Dorset Sports Day.

Text on photo says Portland Division Winners 2011
One of many photographs of tug-of-war teams
Standing: Sgt Bishop, PC Mitchell, PC Cailes, PC Harvey, PC Uffin, PC Tobias.
Sitting: PC Guppy, Tolley, Supt Saint, PC Fall and Swain

Thank you to Ian Swatridge for taking the time to provided the names for these photographs.

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2 thoughts on “Preparing for the Dorset Police Sports Day”

  1. Do you have any information in relation to the cycle championship held by Dorset Constabulary in the early 1900’s?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    My email is below

    1. Jeff, I apologise that it has taken so long to approve your comment, WordPress let me down, I usually get an email when a new comment appears. I don’t know anything further about the championships, I got most of my information from the Newspapers. I will let you know if I get any more information about the Police sports days. Thank you for contacting me.

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