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.
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.
Grandad Beck and Rebecca Illes married at Buckland Newton on 26 Aug 1896. Grandad Beck had just been moved to Lyme Regis, Dorset as a 21-year-old police constable. At 35 years old Rebecca must have been anxious to start a family but it was 2 years later before she announced the happy news.
Lionel Howard Beck
On Tuesday 21 March 1899 Lionel Howard was born at Lyme Regis police station. Three days later he was baptised by Rev. William Jacob, the church register notes this was a private baptism. A private baptism suggests that Lionel was unwell and the baptism took place at the police station. Rebecca would have been 37 years old, which would have been considered old for a first baby.
Despite a difficult start in life, Lionel continued to thrive. I believe this is a photograph of Lionel. It is on the first page of one of the ‘best’ albums and if you look careful at the photograph I showed at Christmas you will see this photograph on the piano.
Laura May Beck
Two years later May, my grandmother was born on Friday 10th May 1901 also at Lyme Regis police station.
She was baptised Laura May on 14 July at St. Michael’s church Lyme Regis by the same vicar who had baptised her brother. This photograph is most likely of Lionel and May, a watering can has featured in a photograph of Lionel before.
In an era that children were often named for relatives or Godparents, I can find no mention of the names chosen by Grandad Beck and Rebecca. May was most likely chosen for the month she was born in.
I wonder how much time Grandad Beck had to spend with his children when they were young. As a police constable, he would have often worked 15-20 hours a day without a break, seven days a week. If a prisoner needed to go to Dorchester goal then the constable would walk the nine miles to Bridport, catch a train to Dorchester, after handing the prisoner over, he would return the same way. Often with the prospect of going back on duty when he arrived back at Lyme Regis. Grandad Beck told the Bridport News, on his retirement, that he had done this duty a number of times during his time at Lyme Regis. As the family lived in the police station I think that Grandad Beck would have found it possible to at least see his wife and children for a few minutes in-between duties.
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Bridport News: 31 March 1899 p8; 24 May 1901; 19 July 1935
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.
At the beginning of a New Year, many of us think about booking our holidays, I am sure the Grandad Beck was no different. Up until 1909 the only time he had off was 5 days annual holiday. One year the family went to Bowleaze Cove near Weymouth. I know this because Lionel and May very kindly built a sandcastle. Little did they know how useful this would be over 100 years later. Thank you Granny!
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.
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”
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
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.