Arthur Percy Beck married Rebecca Illes at Buckland Newton

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.

A man and women, seated
Grandad Beck and Rebecca

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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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The “Vexed Question” of Motor-cars for Superintendents of Police

In this post Photographs of Beaminster Police station 1920 to 1925  I wrote that Grandad Beck may have had two horses to get his trap up the steep hills. From the Western Gazette, January 1920 in a report of the Standing Committee meeting I found conformation of this.  The Chief Constable repeatedly asked the committee to provide the Superintendents with cars, but they thought this unnecessary and extravagant.  We must remember that in the early 1920s the country was recovering from the First World War and the financial situation was difficult.  Prices were fluctuating, up then down. Farmers were having a hard time, especially in Dorset which had one of the highest county rates in the country.

Superintendents needed to travel around their Divisions not only to supervise the local men but also to attend the local courts and other events.  Grandad Beck attended courts at Beaminster, Bridport and Lyme Regis.  I would assume that appearance of the Superintendent, clean and tidy uniform, was desirable at these occasions. This may have been one reason the Chief Constable was not in favour of motor-cycles, the roads would have been very dusty in the 1920s.

Dorset Constabulary were having to cope with changing priorities and keep within their budget. In 1920 Weymouth had its own police force which merged with Dorset Police Constabulary in the interest of greater economy. We also learn that a Police Constable looked after the Superintendents horse or in Grandad Beck’s case horses.  It seems that it was the shortage of PC’s, that eventually lead to the horses being fazed out. I will write more about this next week.

Supt. Beck in uniform with his wife in a pony and trap
Superintendent (Grandad) Beck in uniform with his wife Rebecca in a horse and trap C.1920

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The sentenced is prison with hard labour!

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.

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What Speed is that Motor Vehicle Doing?

One case in the Bridport News stood out for me because it gave me more information about my Great, Grandfather.

In October 1933 Grandad Beck was himself involved in a car accident as a passenger in a taxi. While giving evidence Grandad Beck said He had travelled thousands of miles with Foot (the taxi driver). Thousands, that sounds a lot, was he exaggerating or the Bridport News. I started to consider whether Grandad Beck had a car and drove. From newspaper reports of the Police Standing Committee I knew that some of the Dorset Superintendents received allowances for the use of their own cars on police business. Supt. Beck was not mentioned, therefore I can assume that he didn’t have a car. When I asked my father he said, “Grandad didn’t drive and always used a taxi”. When Grandad Beck visited Wytherston (our farm near Powerstock) he always came with the same taxi driver. Continue reading “What Speed is that Motor Vehicle Doing?”

Why write about Grandad Beck?

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?”