Lyme Regis – Attempted Suicide and Overcrowded Steamboats

Grandad Beck and his wife Rebecca lived in the police station at Lyme Regis from 1896 to 1903. The station was in Horse Street, renamed Coombe Street in about 1901. This is now a private house. Sergeant Henry Battrick with wife his Mary, Son William aged 9 and Daughter Elizabeth 8 also lived in the station in 1901.

In 1902 the Standing Committee approved repairs to several police stations around the county including Lyme Regis.  Grandad Beck and the family may have benefited from the £25 10 shillings spent on the repairs.  The contract was awarded to A.O.F. Wisecombe.

1902 was also notable for the coronation of  King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on 9 August.  The coronation had to be postponed from 26 June as the King was ill and required surgery.  The Chief Constable authorised  £25 for decorating the 17 police stations in the county for the occasion.

As a Police Constable, there are fewer reports in the newspapers for me to follow Grandad Beck’s career.  The only one I found of him, giving evidence in court, was in 1900.

The Dorset Standing Joint Committee spent considerable time discussing the monitoring of passenger numbers on the steamboats.  Though I can find no mention of him, I am sure that Grandad Beck would have been one of the P.C.’s deployed to count the people, at the Cobb, Lyme Regis.  I thought you would enjoy a couple of photographs taken aboard the steamboat, though these are most likely from when the family lived at Beaminster in the 1920s.  There is a link at the bottom of the page to more photographs of the steamboat Victoria at Lyme Regis.

Women seated on a boat
Rebecca Beck aboard the steamboat c1920

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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

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Parents and Siblings

Grandad Beck died on 11 September 1947 in Poole, Dorset. From his  will, dated December 1942 I encountered a few names that I hadn’t heard of, this was an opportunity to research Grandad Beck’s parents and siblings. Grandad Beck was brought up in Buckland Newton, a small village in rural West Dorset and was the middle child of five children,  One older brother (Charles) who didn’t survive childhood, an older sister (Olive), a younger sister (Beatrice) and a younger brother (Ernest).  Interesting to see that his sister Beatrice married a police constable and their son also joined the police, eventually becoming a Chief Constable.  Grandad Beck’s younger brother joined the Metropolitan Police and later immigrated to America, I would like to find out more about Ernest and his family. Grandad Beck was the only one to remain in Dorset, near their parents. Continue reading “Parents and Siblings”