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.
Policemen are often called as witnesses in court cases, this is useful for me, to trace Grandad Beck’s movements around the county. While researching today’s post I found Grandad Beck was a witness for a case involving Upwey in July 1903. Which means that the family moved from Lyme Regis sometime previously or possibly at the end of 1902. I had thought they moved the following year in 1904 and this post mention the later date. The further back I go the less information I can find, the newspaper reports are shorter and a Constable appears less often then Superintendents.
From 1903 to 1908 I have written about four cases, the first three Granddad Beck as P.C. Beck is mentioned and the last one because it was unusual. Upwey was an interesting posting, in 1903 this was under the Portland Division which, until the New Portland Police station was built, held the divisional courts in Weymouth. Weymouth had its own Borough Police force, this must have been a challenge for Grandad Beck. Traffic and people moved between the two which required the two forces to work together on some cases. In addition the railway went though Upwey, this would have been the first time Grandad Beck had a beat on a railway line. These cases give us a good idea of the range of incidents that had to be dealt with by the police. Portland had a large naval base and visiting sailors caused the problems in the first case.
I have chosen 2 photographs from the albums that are likely to have been taken around this time. Unfortunately we have no clue as to where they were taken.
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.
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.
In January 1923 it must have been with sadness that Grandad Beck said good bye to his brother Ernest who emigrated to America, with his wife, Flo and daughter, Olive. Ernest sent lots of photographs home and we have over 100 photographs and postcards of his life in America. Ernest wrote on the back of the photographs so though we don’t have the accompanying letters, we can gain a glimpse of his life in Massachusetts.
Letters and post cards give us a small glimpse into the life and thoughts of our ancestors. They may tells us something about their characters but it would be too easy to make conclusions from these sources. For example what could we deduce from Grandad Beck’s start of his letter Hello you folks! and ending All the love yours APB to his daughter and son-in-law. The letter (well it is actually added on to his wife’s letter) shows a practical side, a sense of humour, a casual way of writing and yet ends with his initials APB.
I don’t have many letters but I have chosen a couple both written in 1926. Grandad Beck and his wife Rebecca had recently moved to Peel House, Bridport. There newly married daughter and son-in-law lived at Wytherston Farm, Powerstock about 6 miles away. May and Fred were married on 7th May 1925 and this post celebrates the birth of their first child, my Uncle, Frederick Osborne who was born on 17 March 1926.
Post Card 15 January 1926
Sometimes it is odd which correspondence survive, for example why did the card below from Grandad Beck to his father Eli survive but not the card/letter that was being answered.
Bridport News March 2nd 1928
Beck – March 1, at Peel House, St Andrew’s Road, Bridport, Rebecca Beck, wife of Supt. A. P. Beck, aged 66
The Bridport News also wrote a piece entitled SUPT. BECK’S BEREAVEMENTThe deceased lady, … possessed a gentle and kindly disposition what endeared her to all with whom she came in contact. Throughout a long illness, borne with patience and fortitude, she was devotedly attended by her husband, while Dr. J.H. Armistead, her medical attendant, was unsparing in his efforts. The interment will take place at Blandford to-morrow (Saturday). The deepest sympathy is extended to Supt. Beck in the heavy bereavement that has befallen him.
Rebecca Beck (nee Illes)
My great grandparents had married 35 years before at Buckland Newton Church in Dorset. Grandad Beck was a 21 year old police constable and his bride a 35 year old former dairymaid. Throughout their marriage Rebecca had supported her husband’s career and, if family legend is correct, encouraged her husband to climb the promotional ladder.