Is this the end of this blog? Well, I have achieved what I set out to do, written about my Great Grandfather’s career in the police force. With over 40 years service Grandad Beck is one of the longest serving policemen in Dorset Police. This blog has exceeded my expectations when I started back in January 2016. I have written more than I expected, over 60 posts, one a week. I have ‘met’ cousins, I didn’t know before and made some new friends. I have learnt about Dorset history, my home town of Bridport and my ancestors.
As I would expect the further back I go the harder it is to find information. Nonetheless, it is surprising what can be found, a useful article from 1878 tells us something about Grandad Beck’s childhood. We can only guess at why he became a policemen but we do know that this was a good move and that the job was to suit him. Having written about him as a Superintendent, it is harder to imagine the raw 19-year-old starting his training as a Constable at Dorchester Police Station.
Childhood and education
Grandad Beck was born and spent his childhood in the village of Buckland Newton, Dorset. He would have been educated with his siblings in the local village school. The Elementary Education Act 1880 set compulsory attendance from 5 to 10 years. Children between 11 and 13 were allowed to be employed providing they had a certificate to show they had reached the educational standard. Buckland Newton’s school was built in 1857 and had an average attendance of 107 pupils in 1881. The school mistress was Mrs Mary Ann Smith. (Kelly’s Directory 1889). In 1878 Grandad Beck’s father (Eli) won two prizes, awarded by the Labourers Improvement Society for regularly sending his children to school and Sunday school. Eli and Frances Beck had three children in 1878 Charles aged 7 years, Olive aged 4 years and Grandad Beck (Arthur Percy) aged 3 years. Therefore this would have referred to Charles’ school attendance.
Rebecca Illes and Arthur Percy Beck married at Buckland Newton Church, in Dorset on Wednesday 26th August 1896. Grandad Beck’s father Eli and his sister Olive signed the church register. I don’t have any early photographs of Rebecca, the ones below were taken in the early 1900s.
Today I am going to share some family photographs taken at different houses. The locations and the dates are not given but from the ages of Lionel and May they are likely to have been taken between 1907 and 1909. This would make Lionel between 8 and 10 years, May between 6 and 8 years.
A Favourite Garden
The first photograph was a favourite, as it appears in several albums. This doesn’t look any of the places we know Grandad Beck lived. Both the Dorchester and Upwey houses are mid-terrace and prior to Upwey, they lived in the police station at Lyme Regis.
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
Grandad Beck’s mother died on May 26th 1919, Grandad Beck, Rebecca and 18 year old May would have joined Eli (Grandad Beck’s father) and the rest of the family at Garland Road, Longfleet, Poole, Dorset for the funeral. My Great, Great Grandmother, Frances Jane Beck was buried in the St Mary’s churchyard, Longfleet. Later to be joined by her husband, Eli and Grandad Beck.
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”
Why write about Supt. Beck, well it all started many years ago. I was in my early twenties working in the Monmouth Bar at the Bull Hotel. An elderly gentleman used to come in for half-a-pint, while waiting for his wife. We got chatting and when he learnt about my family he came out with a surprising statement. “I remember your Grandmother, lovely lady”. My Grandmother died when my father was a small boy. Then he said something even more surprising, “I used to see your Great Grandfather Supt. Beck driving his horse and trap between Beaminster and Bridport”. What? Who? I told him that I had an Auntie Jo Beck but never heard of Supt. Beck. He explained to me that Auntie Jo was in fact Supt. Beck’s second wife. “She was the families servant, after the death of your Great Grandmother, Supt. Beck married her, she was the same age as his daughter – it was the talk of the town!”
The next time Supt. Beck came to my attention was when I saw the picture taken by Dorset Constabulary for his retirement, but the idea of researching his life only came after a recent Powerstock House family reunion. My father showed us some family photos. One showed Supt. Beck at Beaminster Police station with a early car. As my father is the last of the grandchildren I decided now was a good time to find out more. This blog is a record of my journey. Continue reading “Why write about Grandad Beck?”