Superintendent moves from Beaminster to Bridport

Beaminster Police Station

When Grandad Beck took over as Superintendent of the Bridport Division of the Dorset Constabulary in 1919, the accommodation for the position was at Beaminster police station.  The reason for this is that when the Dorset Constabulary was formed in  1856, Bridport was a Borough and had their own police force, stationed in South Street.  The new divisional police station, with accommodation for the Superintendent and a court room, was built at Beaminster in c. 1862. By 1924 this was inconvenient for Grandad Beck as the larger portion of his work and staff was at Bridport and the vicinity. The Chief Constable drew this to the notice of the Dorset Police Standing Committee in July 1924 and requested that a suitable house be found in Bridport for the Superintendent’s accommodation.  My father remembers Grandad Beck saying that this decision was unpopular in Beaminster, this may have been because they were afraid they would lose the police station and justice court.

At the same July 1925 meeting the Dorset Police Standing Committee agreed that when Grandad Beck moved to Bridport the Sergeant, would move into the Superintends accommodation in Beaminster police station.  The Sergeant, stationed at Beaminster, and his family lived in rented accommodation in Beaminster. A constable and his family had accommodation at the back of the Police station. The County Architect was asked to carry out such internal decorative repairs as may be necessary.

Peel House, Bridport

A semi-detached house with roses lining the front wall
Rebecca Beck outside Peel House, Bridport between 1925-28

Finding a house provide quite difficult, there was a shortage of houses in Bridport at the time.  In December 1924 the Dorset Purchase Standing Committee were told that an offer had been made on 8th August to Miss D Richards to buy the freehold house, Lyndhurst, East Street, Bridport, but this fell through.  Colonel Colfox, the Chairman, asked that in view of the difficulty, once a house was found that met the requirements of the Chief Constable and County Architect, he was authorised to purchase it, without waiting for the next meeting.  This was agreed.  In April the following year, the Sub-Committee reported that Mr W. A. Ralls was willing to sell them the house he was erecting in St. Andrew’s Road, Bridport.  At the July meeting the committee learnt that the Home Secretary had approved the purchase, of the freehold house and garage, from Mr Ralls for £1,050.

We don’t know exactly when Grandad Beck and his wife moved to Bridport but the Western Gazette 21 August 1925, noted that Police Supt. A. P. Beck has removed from Beaminster, and is now residing at Peel House, St. Andrew’s road, Bridport.

Peel House was a new, semi-detached house, probably with three bedroomed  and two reception rooms. I am sure that Grandad Beck was delighted to have a garden again and Rebecca would have liked the thought of living near to St. Andrews Church, which was situated directly behind the house.  The new house also had an interior bathroom, this may have been a novelty for them.  I don’t know what the sanitary arrangements were at their previous accommodation, but at this time outside toilets were common. It must have been very strange for Rebecca after 6 years of living at Beaminster Police Station, were her living accommodation was part of the life of the police. She may well of appreciated the quiet, especially if she had been feeling the effects of her illness by this time.  I can find no record of a telephone at the property, it is quite likely that if the Superintendent was required a policeman would have been sent with a message from the station in South Street.  Bridport is a bigger town with a busy market, which her son-in-law attended so it may have been easier for her daughter to visit.  All in all, I am sure it was a good move for both my Great Grandparents.

Interior views of Peel House
Written on back of photographs: Christmas cake at Peel House and A Christmas Tree and cake at Peel House Probably taken between 1929-1934 after Grandad Becks second marriage

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References Quotes in Italics:
Bridport News: 1924 Dec 5 p2; 1924 Jul 25 p6; 1925 May 1 p7; 1925 Jul 24 p8
Western Gazette: 1925  August 21

3 thoughts on “Superintendent moves from Beaminster to Bridport”

  1. It’s so lovely to read about Arthur Percy, it brings him to life, I’m glad my mum knew him. Do you know if Peel House still stands?

    1. Thank you Heather. Yes Peel House is still with us, it still has “Peel House” on the wall and looks just like the photo.

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