Wet Roots I am descended from agricultural labourers, many of whom were illiterate (I hope you notice some improvement!) The earliest I’ve been able to go back is 1729 - to the Huntingdonshire (now Cambridgeshire) village of Woodhurst. This is an area where the Cambridgeshire Fen country meets north Norfolk - a very flat, watery and marshy environment that was subjected to extensive drainage works by the Dutchman Vermuyden in the mid 17th century. Vermuyden had started the project with a group of Dutch prisoners-of-war. There has been some family speculation as to whether some of his labour force was the origin of the Becks in the Fen country, and if you believe that then I’m a Dutchman. In any case, there was a watery connection later on: my great grandfather Joseph Beck was described in the 1901 Census as “Engine Driver - Draining Pump”. The family line remained in the area - Woodhurst, Oldhurst, Upwell, Wimbotsham, and Downham Market - until the turn of the 20th century, when my paternal grandfather, Isaac, moved to the south west London suburbs. In 1910 he married Daisy Lucy Lane in Croydon. In the same year my father, Roy Boyce, was born in Wandsworth. Isaac became the licensee of the Duke of Cambridge public house (see left) in Kingston Vale, Surrey, and died there in 1930. My grandmother Daisy Lucy outlived him by twenty nine years, during which time she took over as licensee of the pub. My father became manager of his mother’s pub (and she spent the profits as fast as he could make them). He married Ethel Irene Kent in Kingston Vale, in 1936. I appeared in 1937. The watery background to my life (water also being an essential ingredient of beer of course!) was nicely complemented by the fact that grandfather on my mother’s side was employed as a “Turncock” for the Metropolitan Water Board. Education (I think that’s what it was) I went to eight schools (lucky ol' me!) and performed abysmally at most of them, partly due to wartime evacuation, and partly to my mother’s belief that my pathetic performance was always the school's fault, and so moved me on in the vain hope that the next one would knock some sense into me. It didn’t. My secondary education was at Kings College School, Wimbledon and my final two years were at Kingston Grammar School  where I gained the dubious distinction of achieving General Certificates of Education 'O' Level in only two subjects, French and English. This was (and still is) a superb school, and had I been lucky enough to receive all my secondary education there I would have achieved more than I did. I left school with the added bonus of a caning ("6 of the best") from the Headmaster on my very last day at school. (I and two accomplices had made an impressive pyramid of chairs and desks reaching to the classroom ceiling; OK - we did use another wretched classmate as part of the "foundations"!) I later added Mathematics and Chemistry to my GCEs by attending evening classes after I left school in 1955. I rowed for Kings College School and Kingston Grammar School, and took part in the Schools Head of the River Race (the Oxford v Cambridge course in reverse); I rowed in one race, and coxed in another. Time Line 1955-56: Junior Clerk, Thames Conservancy, London (where I was allowed to lick stamps). 1956-58: National Service in the British Army, serving in the RASC, Willems Barracks, Aldershot. Trained as a Typist & Clerk, but finished the remainder of my service as a Drill Instructor (how to win friends and influence people!) reaching the giddy rank of Sergeant. (NB: Never put three stripes on the arm of a nineteen-year old!) 1958-61: General Clerk, Thames Conservancy, London (and now allowed to write letters).   1962: I married my beautiful Pauline.   1961-65: Assistant River Purification Inspector, Thames Conservancy, covering parts of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, enforcing river quality legislation in the non-tidal Thames catchment: effluent discharge laws that were 120 years ahead of the rest of the country. At this point, knowing that Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology were my worst subjects, I decided to pursue a career in which Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology were the most important subjects (thus inviting a life of unrelieved stress). I studied for, and passed, the membership examination of the Institute of Sewage Purification (later the Institute of Water Pollution Control, which then became the Institution of Water & Environmental Management) - thus proving to myself that I wasn’t quite the idiot I thought I was! 1965-66: River Purification Inspector, Thames Conservancy, covering parts of north Sussex, Surrey & Middlesex. 1966: We "emigrated" to North Yorkshire (or as it was then called, the North Riding). 1966-73: Pollution Prevention Officer, Yorkshire Ouse & Hull River Authority, covering the eastern half of North Yorkshire. 1973-74: Northern Division Pollution Prevention Officer, Yorkshire River Authority, responsible for a small team of officers covering North Yorkshire. 1974-83: N.E. Division Pollution Prevention Officer, Yorkshire Water Authority, responsible for a team of pollution prevention and trade effluent officers covering York and the eastern half of North Yorkshire. Now controlling effluent discharges to both rivers and public sewers. 1983-87: Northern Division Pollution Prevention Officer, Yorkshire Water Authority, responsible for a team of pollution prevention and trade effluent officers covering York and North Yorkshire. Controlling discharges to rivers and public sewers. 1987-89: Coordinating Manager (River Quality), Yorkshire Water Head Office, Leeds. Coordinating Divisional staff, advising on regional and national policy matters, and attending national committees dealing with the control of waste matter to rivers and sewers. (NB: These functions later became the responsibility of the National River Authority, and subsequently the Environment Agency) Professional Qualification Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management. An Unplanned Life Change March 1989: Two years after the sudden death of my daughter (see Losing my Daughter) I suddenly found myself unable to cope with the every-day problems of my job and accepted voluntary redundancy, at the age of 51, which fortuitously coincided with the privatisation of the water industry, the creation of the National River Authority (later the Environment Agency), and the typical "downsizing" philosophy that attends this kind of reorganisation . My “Second Life” Since September 1989 I have been in part-time employment as a private hire car and school transport driver with Botterills of Thornton-le-Dale. More recently I have also been responsible for their IT work, including the development of appropriate databases and spreadsheets, as well as designing and maintaining the Botterills Website. From 1989 to the end of 2002 I was also a volunteer administration worker with the Scarborough & District Citizens Advice Bureau, developing and maintaining computer software to suit the Bureau's needs, and providing computer training for advisers. I still retain responsibility for the design and maintenance of the Bureau's Website until 2010. Hobbies and Interests Personal computing and the Internet Writing Music - all kinds, but with a preference for classical Reading - fact and fiction Inland waterways cruising Walking Cycling Footnote (2009): Still married to the beautiful Pauline. I’m continually grateful she can put up with me.   © Lionel Beck - North Yorkshire - UK Return to Top Return to Top Return to Top Lionel Beck, F.C.I.W.E.M. Keeping my head above water Made with Xara Web Designer Duke of Cambridge (now demolished) Kings College School, Wimbledon Kingston Grammar School, Kingston-upon-Thames Recent picture of a KGS Eight