Grandad Beck told my father the story of how May overheard a conversation while she was working at the telephone exchange in Blandford Forum. May promptly telephoned her father to tell him that the war was over. The call is likely to have been between an Officer in London and the RAF station at Blandford. Grandad Beck went on to tell my father that he gave her a good telling off. May was in a position of trust and must not repeat anything she should overhear.
The reports, photographs and family memories show Grandad Beck as fond of sports. The Dorset Police Athletic Club had been formed in 1896. Photographs, from the family collections, show tug-of-war teams and racing cycles. Family memories are of him loving cricket. In 1938, 2 years after his retirement he thanked the Poole Divisional Police Sports Club for allowing him to continue to umpire the cricket and other sports teams.
The Dorset Police Athletic Club held an annual sports meeting in June each year, 1935 was the 35th meeting as there had been no meeting during the war. The club had been in existence for 39 years. This post is related to the years 1930 to 1935 when the meetings were held on a Wednesday. Proceeds from the event was given to various charities including Dorset hospitals, police benevolent fund and police sports clubs.
The local Newspapers regularly report on the meetings of the Dorset Standing Committees. Among other responsibilities this committee is responsible for the police budgets, including major purchases and expenditures. The reports of the committee meetings enables us to get a insight into the Dorset police force in the 1930s. Using newspaper reports gives us an impression but can be incorrect or give the view of the reporter and therefore need to be read with care.
We can not look at Grandad Beck’s life and work without considering the wider context. In 1930 Britain was hit by a world recession caused in part by the stock market crash in the USA. Britain was less effected than other countries and here in the South West the depression wasn’t has bad as in the North of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Nevertheless Grandad Beck and the people of West Dorset would have felt the effect. The Police were effected directly when their pay was cut, twice. Yet despite these cuts the pay of Dorset policemen had significantly increased since World War One due.
At midnight on Saturday 20th July 1935 Supt. Beck retired, after 40 years in the Dorset Constabulary, 16 of those years in the Bridport Division. Supt. Beck, who was approaching his 60th Birthday, was the longest serving member of the Constabulary at that time.
During the last few weeks of July, thanks were give to Supt. Beck at both the Bridport Borough and Division Courts, a reception was held in the borough gardens Bridport hosted by the Mayor and a photo was taken with all the police officers in the Division. The Bridport News and Western Gazette both reported on the speeches of thanks at the Courts and the reception given by the Mayor.
In later years Auntie Jo (Grandad Beck’s second wife) remembered this time with affection and pride in her husband’s achievements. As a child I can remember Auntie Jo showing me the items he was presented with, laid out on a table. After Grandad Beck’s retirement, they moved to Longfleet, Poole, where they were to spend the rest of their days together.
All the policemen of the Bridport Division, (this includes Bridport, Beaminster, Lyme Regis and surrounding villages) gathered in the Borough garden to have the picture taken to mark Supt. Beck’s retirement. 19 PC’s, 3 Sergeants, Supt. Beck and Mrs Beck.