Bideford and Barnstaple bridges were both threatened with annexation under the provisions of the Trunk Roads Bill early in 1946.
When Mr J B Cruse, who is so well known to many of us in the Torridge district and carries with him our best wishes in his year of high civic office, was elected Mayor of Barnstaple reference was made to the part played in the life of that town by its Long Bridge, of which Mr Cruse is Clerk to the Trustees. From Bideford we emphasise the spirit of unity – ranking far above friendly verbal interchanges of bridge fame and rivalry – that exists between the Bridge Trustees of both towns in the honest-to-goodness jealous preservation of their rights as trustees of ancient monuments. The discharge of these duties reflects credit on the civic mindedness of North Devonians for between 600 and 700 years.
Bideford and Barnstaple bridges were both threatened with annexation under the provisions of the Trunk Roads Bill early in 1946. There was inter-town concern at the time and the prompt and painstaking action of Bideford’s Bridge Warden (Mr F E Whiting), who burnt the midnight oil in producing facts and figures and conveying the vital flame of the Bridge Trust, strengthened the arguments Brig C H M Pete, MP, and others brought to bear so effectively in the House to preserve the independent trusts of both the North Devon bridges and of the Rochester bridge. As a result all three bridges were excluded from the provisions of the Bill.
Bideford has always been an intimate concern of Ald F E Whiting, and the fact that the town has honoured him by making an Honorary Freeman, and by electing him Mayor of the Borough in 1930, is evidence of the highest local appreciation of his public services. Bideford’s Long Bridge, in particular, has been the object of devoted attention by him. The interesting fact that he has now completed 21 years’ service as Warden of the Bridge is an occasion for personal notice. When he built his house, he erected it on an exclusive bend in the river valley giving a continuous view of the Bridge he has so loyally served. During the last war many hours of concentrated relaxation went to producing his model of the bridge, showing its development from timber to stone down the centuries. This is but one indication of the interest he has shown in the welfare to the minutest detail of a national monument, an interest that has far exceeded any claims the limited consideration of salary might impose upon him.