Imprisonment with hard labour was often the sentence for people, found guilty by the local courts. I have chosen several examples from the newspapers of 1930, the charges were theft, drunk and disorderly. Quite what hard labour entailed I don’t know, or if there was any other form of imprisonment. The local police tried to keep the area free from “undesirables” and told anyone they considered to be in this category to leave town. All these court cases concern people from outside the local area of Lyme Regis, Bridport, Beaminster and the surrounding villages.
The reports, photographs and family memories show Grandad Beck as fond of sports. The Dorset Police Athletic Club had been formed in 1896. Photographs, from the family collections, show tug-of-war teams and racing cycles. Family memories are of him loving cricket. In 1938, 2 years after his retirement he thanked the Poole Divisional Police Sports Club for allowing him to continue to umpire the cricket and other sports teams.
The Dorset Police Athletic Club held an annual sports meeting in June each year, 1935 was the 35th meeting as there had been no meeting during the war. The club had been in existence for 39 years. This post is related to the years 1930 to 1935 when the meetings were held on a Wednesday. Proceeds from the event was given to various charities including Dorset hospitals, police benevolent fund and police sports clubs.
I wrote about the Standing Committee as they debated the police budget during a recession. Dorset Police Pay and Promotion during the Great Depression. In this post I looked several other issue that had been reported in the Western Gazette during the first half of the 1930s.
The Home Office wanted the police to have telephones in all police houses, to facilitate communication within the force and with the public. But the Dorset Standing Committee didn’t agree, partly on cost and partly because they considered it unnecessary in a rural area. This was discussed many times over the years.
The Dorset force was more compliant when the Home Office instigated motor patrols around the country to, among other duties, rigorously monitor the speed of motor vehicles. Dorset started with motorbikes before buying cars. Superintendents provided their own motorcars and were given an allowance for the use their cars for police duties. From the list given in 1933 Grandad Beck was the only one who didn’t own a car.
Improvements to both Bridport and Beaminster police stations were considered necessary. A new police station was considered for Beaminster which caused Beaminster people to be concerned that they would no longer have a local Justice court. After much discussion it was decided to keep the station in Prout Hill – now the youth centre.
The local Newspapers regularly report on the meetings of the Dorset Standing Committees. Among other responsibilities this committee is responsible for the police budgets, including major purchases and expenditures. The reports of the committee meetings enables us to get a insight into the Dorset police force in the 1930s. Using newspaper reports gives us an impression but can be incorrect or give the view of the reporter and therefore need to be read with care.
We can not look at Grandad Beck’s life and work without considering the wider context. In 1930 Britain was hit by a world recession caused in part by the stock market crash in the USA. Britain was less effected than other countries and here in the South West the depression wasn’t has bad as in the North of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Nevertheless Grandad Beck and the people of West Dorset would have felt the effect. The Police were effected directly when their pay was cut, twice. Yet despite these cuts the pay of Dorset policemen had significantly increased since World War One due.