Happy New Year and where is May and Lionel?

Thank you to all my readers, this is my 52rd post,  I find it hard to believe that my first post was a year ago.  Through this blog I have ‘met’, family members I didn’t know existed, descendants of Grandad Beck’s colleagues and friends that have enjoyed my scribbles.  I can’t thank you enough for all your kind comments. I hope you will all keep reading as I write the last few posts of Grandad Beck’s life as a policeman.

To celebrate the New Year I thought I would give you a challenge. Can you help me identify May and Lionel in these school photographs.  The first two are taken at Broadwey School.  From 1904-1908 the family lived at  6 Prospect Place, Upwey. At first I wondered why the children went to Broadwey school when there was a school in Upwey. Then I found that the police house was in a lane just off the main Dorchester to Weymouth road and between the two schools. Lionel was born in March 1899 and May is two years younger born in 1901.

I have included some photographs of the family to help identify the Children.

image-2-broadway2 Continue reading “Happy New Year and where is May and Lionel?”

Christmas Bells to wish you a Happy Christmas

By piano, boy with violin and girl seated
May and Lionel Beck Celebrating Christmas

I thought I would let Lionel and May wish you a Happy Christmas, can you hear Lionel on the violin accompanied by May on the piano coming to you through the years?  This photograph must have been taken over 100 years ago, around 1910.  The room is the same one as in the photograph here and is at Overton Villas in Dorchester.  Christmas Bells is a one of Ezra Read’s ‘Descriptive Fantasias’ which was popular with music teachers at the time. Continue reading “Christmas Bells to wish you a Happy Christmas”

A Policeman’s Lot is Not a Happy One

“A Policeman’s Lot is Not a Happy One” was a popular song from The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert & Sullivan, since 1880.  I am sure Grandad Beck, heard this and chuckled, he loved his job and working in Dorset but others were not so happy.

Grandad Beck was promoted to Sergeant in 1908, while the family were living at Upwey.  As a police constable he would have been working long hours, 7 days a week, the family must have only seen him for short periods each day.  While his promotion would not have effected the hours he worked, it would have meant a modest increase in pay. Police Officers had 5 days annual holiday, for Lionel and May it must have been strange to see their father out of uniform.  The newspapers reports of the Joint Standing Committee meetings (1909-1914), shows how this was all to change.  The police Weekly Rest Day Act of 1910 was to give all policemen 1 day off per week, this was voluntary for the police forces until becoming mandatory on 26th July 1914, just before war was declared.

The request for policemen to assist the military in 1910 came as Dorset, along with other force, were having problems retaining and recruiting men. Young men, including Great Uncle Ernest, were joining the Metropolitan Police as they paid more.  First a report about mounted police, which gives me an excuse to show you this photograph of Grandad Beck again. This was taken in the 1920s when he was a Superintendent at Beaminster.

Supt. in uniform on a horse
Grandad Beck riding one of the horses at Beaminster Police Station

Mounted Policemen

Continue reading “A Policeman’s Lot is Not a Happy One”

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

Continue reading “Preparing for the Dorset Police Sports Day”

The Wilfully and Malice Murder of Winifred Mitchell

As a detective, the murder of a young women in 1913 was Grandad Beck’s highest profile case.  This case was noted on his Obituary, September 1947, in the same year Mr. Beck was appointed to the Merit Class.  Grandad Beck, Mr Plummer, Deputy Chief Constable, Superintendent Ricketts, and Sergeant Stockley were commended for their presentation of the case in a letter from the Public Prosecutor, Charles W. Matthews.

Policeman with shot gun
P.C. Stockley: The policeman who discovered the body (Western Gazette 23 May 1913)

There are numerous accounts of this murder in contemporary newspapers from all over the UK and more recently in books and on the Internet.  The Western Gazette included photographs, which was unusual. The illustrations used in this post are taken from the on-line British Newspaper Archive.

The murder reads like an Agatha Christie without Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot! Continue reading “The Wilfully and Malice Murder of Winifred Mitchell”

Photographs, Highdays and Holidays

During the years that he lived in Dorchester (1908-1915) Grandad Beck took lots of photographs.  From reports of court cases we know that as a detective he took photographs as part of his job.  We don’t know if his interest in photography preceded his promotion.  We do have lots of photographs taken by Grandad Beck of his family, many of them from the early 1900s. Today I thought I would share some of these family photographs, some of these may have been taken at Upwey before the family moved to Dorchester.

Between the family home and the police station in Dorchester, Dorset, is the earthworks Maumbury Rings.  This was originally a Neolithic Henge, modified by the Romans into an amphitheatre and then used as an artillery fort in the English Civil War.  The people of Dorchester use this area for recreation and picnics. While researching, I found that from 1908-1913 the archaeologist Harold St George Gray excavated the rings.  He sank about 45 shafts, up to 36 feet deep, into the chalk.  This probably explains the structure visible on the right of this photograph

Family photograph taken on steep grass bank
Photograph taken at Maumbury Rings, Dorchester. The couple on right is unknown, Lionel, May and Rebecca

Continue reading “Photographs, Highdays and Holidays”

3rd Dorset Regiment: Mutiny and fatal shooting at Upwey

On night of Sunday 28th November 1914 there was a mutiny at Upwey, near Weymouth. Private Wallace Williams of the 3rd Dorset Regiment was killed and Private Lane injured.  The papers report that Grandad Beck attended the Coroner’s court but gives us no information about his involvement.  The civil courts part in this was to ascertain how the death happened and if it was a criminal offence.  The war had started 4 months before.  I am sure that the investigating the incident had to be handled with care, as it involved both the military and civilian police.  It is likely that Grandad Beck, as Dorset’s only detective was involved in the investigation and liaising with the Dorset Regiment.  This may have helped to secure his promotion the following year, to Superintendent of Blandford Forum, a town with a military base nearby.

I know it is not really relevant but I couldn’t resist another picture of Lionel in uniform take in 1917.

Young man in uniform
Lionel, Grandad Beck’s son in the uniform of the Royal North Devon Hussars C. April 1917

Continue reading “3rd Dorset Regiment: Mutiny and fatal shooting at Upwey”

Promoted from Detective Sergeant to Superintendent

Grandad Beck was promoted to Superintendent of Blandford Division on 16 June 1915.  The local newspapers were listing the men killed or wounded in the fighting in the Great War.  Prior to being promoted he was a Detective Sergeant based at Dorchester.  It is a possibility that the promotion came very quickly, the day before Superintendent Ricketts had died.  Rickett’s had been Superintendent of Wimborne Division.  The Chief Constable, Captain Granville must have been very quick to move Superintendent Sims based at Blandford to Wimborne and promote Grandad Beck.  This was a significant promotion and was to be his last. This not only entailed moving to Blandford but he would have had a significant pay rise.  Something his wife would have appreciated, costs were rising fast, as I wrote about in last weeks post.

Two Police Superintendents
Superintendent James Sims and Superintendent (Grandad) Arthur Percy Beck

Move to Blandford Forum

Grandad Beck’s days would have been taken with up passing over his current duties and learning his new ones.  For his wife, Rebecca this would have entailed packing up the house and, I assume, moving at very short notice.  I am sure Rebecca was delighted with the promotion but must have had misgivings about the move to a new town.  The house they lived in at Dorchester had 6 rooms including the kitchen.  The neighbours were from different trades, (1911 census) none of them were Policemen, though they were not far from the Police station and other policemen lived nearby.  Blandford was very different because they were moving into the police station. Police stations at this time, housed the men and their families, any visiting policemen, the offices and other rooms used by the police, prison cells and stables.  At Blandford, the 1911 census lists a Sergeant and 2 Constables with their wives and families besides the Superintendent.  Superintendent Sims lists 7 rooms occupied by himself and his family, suggesting the accommodation was slightly larger.

A young man with a large bicyle
Lionel Howard Beck C.1915

Lionel and May

Lionel would have been 16 years of age and I would assume working.  We know he moved with the family, so he must have had to change job.  When he enrolled in the Army 2 years later he was working in a shop, so it is possible this was his job in Dorchester.  Given the circumstance of Grandad Beck’s promotion he must have had to hand his notice in very quickly, lets hope it was a job he was glad to leave.

A young girl dressed in her best cloths
May Beck C1915

May would have been 14 years old and may have still been at School.  In 1911 census is seems usual for 13 year old daughters, including those of policemen, to be still at school.  Girls 14 and older, living in the same area as the family, were usually listed without any occupation.  As the war progressed girls and young women were taking jobs to help replace the men that were called up.  We believe that May worked in Blandford telephone exchange at the end of the war.  Whether May was at School, at home or working the move to Blandford would have been an upheaval and she would have had to leave her friends behind, but it could have been exciting as well.  New places to explore and people to meet for both Lionel and May.

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Ref: Bridport News 19 July 1935

Problems for Dorset Police Force During WW1

Grandad Beck was promoted to Superintendent of the Blandford Division of the Dorset Constabulary in June 1915 nearly 11 months after the start of World War One.  This promotion came at a difficult time for the Dorset police force as reduced police numbers and rising costs caused major problems.  Reading the Dorset Standing Joint Committee reports in the Newspapers, the wages that the men received were constantly being reviewed, as the price of food and other essential commodities rose.  At the same time the Chief Constable, Captain Granville, was reporting on police strength, how many policemen had been released to the military, and the deaths of former policemen in the fighting.

War Bonus

Policemen were paid weekly, each week they would have walked or cycled to their Divisional headquarter, saluted their senior officer and received the cash due to them.  As the war progressed their wage was not enough for them and their families to buy the basic necessities of live.  To overcome this the Standing Committee, along with other police forces, issued a War Bonus, awarded until peace was signed.  The first bonus of 2s (shillings) per week for all ranks of Dorset policemen, was issued in April 1915, by the end of the war the bonus had risen to 10s.  In September 1917 The Food Controller stated that the cost of living had increased by 101.7% since the start of the war.

Many policemen, who had retired on pensions, rejoined to replace those joining the military.  These men were getting their police pension and their wages.  In July 1917, 4 Sergeants and 9 constables had reached retiring age since the start of the war. These men were unable to retire and claim their pensions, unless medically unfit. All policemen had to work extra hours. By 1916 constables were working 14 or 15 hours a day instead of 9, with one day off a fortnight instead of one day a week and since July 1915 all leave had been cancelled.

Allowances

It was not only pay that was an issue with increasing costs. Policemen’s boots had nearly doubled in cost (from 11s to 21s) by November 1917. Therefore the committee increased the boot allowance from 6d (pence) to 1s per week for all ranks.  Bicycles were being used more by the rural districts due to increased hours, larger beat areas and making lots of enquiries for the Army. In November 1917 this allowance was increased from £1 to £3 per annum, in specified areas, for Sergeants and constables.

Superintendent’s also had problems with their allowances for feeding their horses and prisoners.  In October 1916 the superintendents allowance for the subsistence of prisoners whilst in custody was discussed.  They were given half-pence per hour while a prisoner was in custody, which was not enough to cover the increased cost of the meals.  Each prisoner received 12 ounces of bread and 2 ounces of cheese three times a day, 8am, 1pm and 5pm.  A pint of tea or coffee at 8am and 5pm.  The committee agreed to double the allowance. I wrote about the forage for the horses last week in Locomotion for Dorset Superintendents.

Pay rises after the war

After the war, Police Sub-Committee had a hurried meeting, in June 1918. The Metropolitan Police were threatening to strike over pay and conditions.  The Met. police went on strikes in August 1918 and June 1919.  It is likely that Grandad Beck’s brother Ernest was involved in these strikes. This resulted, a year later, in a uniformed pay scale for the all police forces in the country.  New rates meant a constable on joining received 70s (at start of war 20s 9b) per week rising after 22 years’ service to 85s (pre-war 24s 9b) per week.  Sergeants, on promotion, 100s (pre-war 26s 10b) per week rising after five years’ service to 112s 6d (pre-war 29s 8b) per week. Superintendents would get £400 (pre-war £138 7s 11d) per year rising to £460 (pre-war £173 7s 9b) after 4 years.  At the Standing Committee meeting in Dorchester, the new compulsory pay scale was implemented. Mr. W. Carter commented, that the Dorset policemen are getting more wages than they actually asked us for, free houses, free clothes and pensions! Policemen are doing well. I have previously written about other changes introduced at this time in Public-Spirited County Policemen – A Difficulty Solved.

Police strength

The Chief Constable had 218 policemen at the start of the war and by the end 57 officers had joined the military, 9 of these lost their lives.  Finding replacements was not easy, the force was only able to employ those over 40 years and some of these men didn’t stay long.  While the pensioners helped, the chief constable told the committee in January 1916,  the pensioners didn’t have the vigour of the younger men and some of them had to resign because they couldn’t stand the work.  By the end of the war the force was 50 men under strength, this included the 11 officers who were employed on duties of a military character. There were 25 men who were entitled to retire, but not allowed to because of the war.

The force had returned to full strength by May 1919 though some of the pensioners were still employed.  In March 1919 the one rest day per week was restored. The Chief Constable told the committee that he would require 60 new recruits. All those men who had serviced in the military were entitled to return to the police force, including those who had been injured, if possible.  Police Constable Sam Coombs had been severely wounded in the war and had a artificial foot, was to be re-employed. The Chief Constable said he was a very deserving young fellow and he proposed to reinstate him as a constable and find work for him as a station constable and telephone attendant.  The committee applauded the Chief Constable to mark their approval.

Did you enjoy this? Please show your support, leave a comment or/and subscribe to this blog and you will never miss any posts. I would love to hear from you, please email me: sylvia@grandadbeck.co.uk
All original content by Sylvia Collins is copyright protected.

Ref: Quotes in italics
Western Gazette:
1919: 21 March p8; 16 May p10; 25 July p8; 17 October p9
1918: 1 February p6; 17 May p3; 19 July p3; 18 October p6; 8 November p5
1917: 2 February p5; 25 May p7; 20 July p6; 19 October p6; 30 November p8
1916: 4 February p5; 20 October p8
1915 22 October p9
Western Daily Press: 1915 26 April p3

Locomotion for Dorset Superintendents

During the First World War transport for the Superintendents in Dorset Constabulary was discussed by the Dorset Standing Committee.  Historically the Superintendents had used horses and carts to get around their areas, these were stabled and looks after by a constable. With the advent of motor bikes and cars, the police looked at these forms of transport to increase their efficiency.  It should be remembered that though motorised transport was faster than horses they were restricted to a maximum of 20 miles per hour.  How times have changed.

Line of Motor Bikes and early cars under trees
This photograph was in the family collection, I have no idea where or why this was taken and kept but perhaps someone will recognise it

Replace Worn-out Horses with Motor-Cycles

Continue reading “Locomotion for Dorset Superintendents”