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.
“Grandad was the first plain-clothes policeman in Dorset” my father informed me. Grandad Beck obtained the rank of Sergeant in 1908, 6 months before being made Detective Sergeant.
A descended to the training sergeant at the time, gave me this account of Grandad Beck’s promotion. “Because my Great Grandfather was the Training Sergeant he was aware of what was required and with the increase in crime, he and the top Senior ranks decided they needed a senior PC to help deal with the serious crime of the day. They looked at all the senior PC’S and quickly worked out that “Percy” would be ideal. He was promoted to Sergeant straight away to make his job easier for all, even though it would have had a small financial impact on the Force, as now there was an extra Sergeant.” Ian Swatridge.
As Dorsetshire’s first and the only Detective between 1908 and June 1915, Grandad Beck was based at Headquarters in Dorchester. He travelled around the county at the request of divisional superintendents to assist in more complex or longer investigations.
Two tales from the newspapers involving the residences of Blandford and the RAF. Even in a time of war it is inevitable that the number of soldiers, at the Royal Naval Division based at nearby Blandford Camp, would cause problems for the residents of Blandford. The first case takes place just before Christmas in 1915, 3 years later at the time of the second case, it was noted that the local and national crime rate had significantly decreased. Grandad Beck was present at both court cases and had the help of the military in the investigations. This is just the type of co-operation that Supt. Beck was commended for, as I wrote about here.
As I had previously written about annual reports on premises licenced to sell intoxicating liquor in Bridport Divisions. I thought I would look at Grandad Beck’s annual report to the Blandford County Licensing Sessions in February 1917. This gives a interesting look at life during World War One.
First I will briefly write about two other cases before the Courts in Blandford Forum. A tale of 5 lads and their quest for chocolate, and one relating to the severe winter weather. Across the country, people suffered from a winter of storms, heavy snow, gales and high tides which bought lots of flooding during the winter of 1916/17.
The move to Beaminster in November 1919, meant some changes for Grandad Beck, as Police Superintendent, I wrote about some of these here. Blandford had more military personal unlike Beaminster, Bridport and Lyme Regis which were more rural. Blandford Camp was a depot for the Royal Naval Division until 1918 when it became an intake camp for the newly reformed Royal Air Force. During 1919 there were several motor related court cases at the Blandford Petty sessions, I have written about two which involved RAF drivers. To give a flavour of life in 1919, the year after the end of World War One, I have included a summary of some of the other cases before Blandford Magistrates. First is a sad case of the death of a young girl that was killed in a motor accident.
Below is one of the cases bought before Bridport Magistrates court in January 1924 in which PC Grey rode his bicycle for 10 miles, on a winters evening, to catch a thief. This post shows how attitudes to tramps was to change over the next few years. It is also interesting to note that the magistrates were to continue to warn the shopkeepers against leaving unattended goods outside their shops.
First a photograph from Grandad Beck’s collection, I think this was taken at Beaminster Police Station in the early 1920s. I am unsure if the Police are issuing new or second hand uniforms to their men. During this time police budgets were being cut so it is likely that these are second hand uniforms. Thanks to Ian (who is researching policemen in Dorset) we think the man in the bowler hat, with his back to the camera, is Chief Constable Dennis Granville. Standing next to him on the right is Grandad Beck.
On Tuesday 7th February 1928 Bridport town hall was crowded, the Bridport News reported the largest attendance at a police court know in the town for many years. This was largely due to the fact that a case of larceny … was to be heard.
Superintendent’s Annual Report on Licensing
First the annual Licensing Session for Bridport Borough was heard by the magistrates, Mayor A. R. Travers, Aldermen E. S. Reynolds, W. G. F. Cornick, and G. A. Mabb. According to Supt. Beck’s annual report there were 32 fully-licenses houses, 11 beer houses (including 2 off license premises), one wine and spirit licence. This was a reduction of one licenses house as the Dolphin Inn had closed at the end of the previous year. Continue reading “Licensing and Larceny in Bridport Borough”
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.
The Home Office wanted the police to have telephones in all police houses, to facilitate communication within the force and with the public. But the Dorset Standing Committee didn’t agree, partly on cost and partly because they considered it unnecessary in a rural area. This was discussed many times over the years.
The Dorset force was more compliant when the Home Office instigated motor patrols around the country to, among other duties, rigorously monitor the speed of motor vehicles. Dorset started with motorbikes before buying cars. Superintendents provided their own motorcars and were given an allowance for the use their cars for police duties. From the list given in 1933 Grandad Beck was the only one who didn’t own a car.
Improvements to both Bridport and Beaminster police stations were considered necessary. A new police station was considered for Beaminster which caused Beaminster people to be concerned that they would no longer have a local Justice court. After much discussion it was decided to keep the station in Prout Hill – now the youth centre.
“Appalling dangerous driving on the roads” Grandad Beck was quoted as saying by the Bridport News in 1935. In 1930 over 7,300 people were killed on the roads, compared with 1,700 in 2013. After the invention of motor engine the variety of road users increased as never before. The pedestrians, horses and horse drawn vehicles, and from the late Ninetieth century bicycles where joined by many forms of motorised vehicles. By 1930 there were approximately one million private cars in Britain.
The cases I have chosen to write about include some of the variety of road users. The first involve a Pony and cart in Bridport where the passengers landed on the pavement when they had a collision with a charabanc, a lovely name for a bus or coach. Cyclists also had to share the road with motor vehicles and these amounted to nearly 50% of traffic (see Traffic Regulated by Automatic Signals) and I have written about one of the many accidents between cars and cyclists.