Moves towards the establishment in Bideford’s oldest house of a highly-specialised clockmaking industry, with exceptionally high export potential, were welcomed at Monday’s meeting of Torridge Council’s Development Committee.
The idea has been put forward by master craftsman Mr Frederick Eccles, of Old Ford House, New Road, Bideford.
The Council’s chief executive, Mr Tom Frankland, told the Committee that Mr Eccles was one of the country’s most eminent clockmakers and practised his skills in a small workshop at his home. His clocks were masterpieces of perfection. Smiths English Clocks Ltd had confirmed that they would support the establishment of such an industry in Bideford and would market the entire output from Mr Eccles’ small private company.
The committee were told that Mr Eccles wanted the Council to purchase Old Ford House from him and lease it back to his company at an economic rent. He felt that although he could readily sell the property on the open market it was a building of historic interest to Bideford, having at one time been the home of Thomas Mudge, a leading 18th century clockmaker. Some improvement of access would be needed said Mr Tony Hodder, the planning officer. ‘We welcome this and give it our blessing’ said Cllr Preb Edmund James.
The full Gazette article is dated 5 March 1976