An unusual but happy turn of events took place at last Friday’s meeting of the trustees of Bideford Bridge.
Mr Frank E Whiting has served in the town in many capacities, and in particular for the past 42 years as warden of Bideford bridge. He retired from this appointment that day and was immediately unanimously welcomed as a trustee of the Bridge. ‘Next time’ remarked Mr Whiting somewhat reflectively, ‘I suppose I shall be sitting at the bottom of the table as the youngest trustee, instead of sitting near the chairman and giving my usual report on the care and condition of the bridge and its associated properties’. Mr Arthur A Beer (chairman) stressed the trustees’ appreciated of the greatly valued advice and help Mr Whiting had been able to give them over so many years. Care of the Bridge had been very much part of his life, and they were all very glad he had accepted their unanimous invitation to continue the association as an elected trustee. They were also fortunate in having as his successor as warden Mr J H D Wickham, who had served an apprenticeship and partnership with Mr Whiting, and who had a close family interest in their town and bridge. Mr Whiting, briefly acknowledging, said he deeply appreciated the compliment of being able to keep in touch with the activities of the Trust as a trustee at their conference table. It was a dour thought, though sentimental reflection, that he had outserved all previous trustees and officials during his association as warden. When first appointed it cost 1s an hour for someone to repair the bridge as against 7s today, and items which cost perhaps £10 now worked out as £100. He was glad that Mr James Wickham, his associate and an Old Boy of the same school as the bridge steward, would carry on as their bridge warden. Mr Wickham, who was welcomed at the meeting, said he could only hope to serve them to the best of his ability in following someone who had given such long and devoted service in office. Now 84, Mr Whiting is the oldest hon. Freeman of Bideford. The scope of his public work for the town over so many years, in addition to his work as bridge warden, may perhaps be overlooked by the younger generation. As far back as 1930 he was Mayor, and he was a councillor and then alderman on the Town Council for many years. As an architect he was responsible for many public buildings seen around us. He was a founder member of Bideford Rotary Club, which he still attends, and also of Westward Ho! Arts Club, of which he was president until comparatively recently. He was a member and produced of the former Bideford Operatic Society and, not least, was a sergeant in and for many years a member of Devon Special Constabulary, to mention but a few of his activities.