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
Grandad Beck was promoted to Superintendent of Blandford Division on 16 June 1915. The local newspapers were listing the men killed or wounded in the fighting in the Great War. Prior to being promoted he was a Detective Sergeant based at Dorchester. It is a possibility that the promotion came very quickly, the day before Superintendent Ricketts had died. Rickett’s had been Superintendent of Wimborne Division. The Chief Constable, Captain Granville must have been very quick to move Superintendent Sims based at Blandford to Wimborne and promote Grandad Beck. This was a significant promotion and was to be his last. This not only entailed moving to Blandford but he would have had a significant pay rise. Something his wife would have appreciated, costs were rising fast, as I wrote about in last weeks post.
Move to Blandford Forum
Grandad Beck’s days would have been taken with up passing over his current duties and learning his new ones. For his wife, Rebecca this would have entailed packing up the house and, I assume, moving at very short notice. I am sure Rebecca was delighted with the promotion but must have had misgivings about the move to a new town. The house they lived in at Dorchester had 6 rooms including the kitchen. The neighbours were from different trades, (1911 census) none of them were Policemen, though they were not far from the Police station and other policemen lived nearby. Blandford was very different because they were moving into the police station. Police stations at this time, housed the men and their families, any visiting policemen, the offices and other rooms used by the police, prison cells and stables. At Blandford, the 1911 census lists a Sergeant and 2 Constables with their wives and families besides the Superintendent. Superintendent Sims lists 7 rooms occupied by himself and his family, suggesting the accommodation was slightly larger.
Lionel and May
Lionel would have been 16 years of age and I would assume working. We know he moved with the family, so he must have had to change job. When he enrolled in the Army 2 years later he was working in a shop, so it is possible this was his job in Dorchester. Given the circumstance of Grandad Beck’s promotion he must have had to hand his notice in very quickly, lets hope it was a job he was glad to leave.
May would have been 14 years old and may have still been at School. In 1911 census is seems usual for 13 year old daughters, including those of policemen, to be still at school. Girls 14 and older, living in the same area as the family, were usually listed without any occupation. As the war progressed girls and young women were taking jobs to help replace the men that were called up. We believe that May worked in Blandford telephone exchange at the end of the war. Whether May was at School, at home or working the move to Blandford would have been an upheaval and she would have had to leave her friends behind, but it could have been exciting as well. New places to explore and people to meet for both Lionel and May.
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Ref: Bridport News 19 July 1935
On 23rd April 1917 Grandad Beck’s son Lionel joined the Royal North Devon Hussars 2/1 Battalion. His service was to last 101 days, just over 3 months. From his discharge papers and the three letters Lionel wrote to his sister May, we find out about this time. Less than a year after he returned home, Lionel died, his death certificate contained a surprise.
Lionel the soldier
We learn that Private Lionel Howard Beck was 5ft 6in with blue eyes and fair hair. Before his call up, Lionel, worked as a shop assistant, most likely in Blandford where he lived at home with his parents and sister. At this time Grandad Beck was Superintendent at Blandford and the family lived in the police station.
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.
On November 21st 1919 Grandad Beck took over his duties as Police Superintendent of the Bridport Division from Superintendent Saint who retired the day before. Prior to this Grandad Beck had been in charge of the Blandford Division, this was a promotion as the Bridport Division was larger than Blandford’s. The Bridport Division consisted of 2 Borough town, Bridport and Lyme Regis and the Market Town of Beaminster. The Division police station was built at Beaminster around 1862. The choice of location was most likely because, as a borough, Bridport had their own police force. Grandad Beck’s new division consisted of 3 Sergeants (one each at Bridport, Lyme Regis and Beaminster) and 22 constables, 11 of these based in the rural villages. Blandford was smaller with 1 Sergeant and 10 constables, 5 in nearby villages. It is unlikely that either of these divisions had their full number of constables, see last weeks post.
This week I thought I would share some of the photographs that were taken at Beaminster Police Station during the 1920s. These are not dated but would have been taken during the time Grandad Beck, his wife Rebecca and daughter May lived there, from November 1919 to August 1925. In August 1925 Grandad Beck, and his wife moved to Bridport, I wrote about this here. The Station was not only a working Police Station, containing the visitors office, Court room, Police cells etc., but a home to the Superintendent and his family. It also contained separate accommodation for a Police Constable and his family. A Sergeant was also based in Beaminster and had separate accommodation in the town. In 1925 Sergeant and Mrs Symes lived in North Street, Beaminster while PC and Mrs Diment lived in a ‘cottage’ at the back of the Police Station. Grandad Beck and his family had their accommodation on the first and second floor, overlooking the main road through Beaminster.
Beaminster Police Station
When Grandad Beck took over as Superintendent of the Bridport Division of the Dorset Constabulary in 1919, the accommodation for the position was at Beaminster police station. The reason for this is that when the Dorset Constabulary was formed in 1856, Bridport was a Borough and had their own police force, stationed in South Street. The new divisional police station, with accommodation for the Superintendent and a court room, was built at Beaminster in c. 1862. By 1924 this was inconvenient for Grandad Beck as the larger portion of his work and staff was at Bridport and the vicinity. The Chief Constable drew this to the notice of the Dorset Police Standing Committee in July 1924 and requested that a suitable house be found in Bridport for the Superintendent’s accommodation. My father remembers Grandad Beck saying that this decision was unpopular in Beaminster, this may have been because they were afraid they would lose the police station and justice court.
Continue reading “Superintendent moves from Beaminster to Bridport”
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 BEREAVEMENT The 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.