Mayoral History

There has been a Mayor in Bideford since 1574. Most of them are known to history just by their name; occasionally, however, they have left a greater impression than might have been expected. John Strange who died helping his fellow townspeople during the plague outbreak of 1646 is such an example.

One who left a rather different memory was E.J.Tattersill who was Mayor for the years 1901-04. He was a prominent grocer in the town who appears to have been genuinely liked and respected but, as so common, he had a few long simmering problems with his fellow councillors.

These came to a head in December 1904 when, as was the custom, the outgoing Mayor was guest of honour at a ‘complimentary banquet’ given by the council. All went well until the Mayor rose to return the toast in his honour. He began by thanking the corporation for the meal and their present. He then added, ‘There was, however, a fly in the ointment.’ Bluntly expressed ‘He had found the majority of the Town Council thoroughly disloyal, utterly unreliable, ignorant and obstructive.’ This followed a dispute with the Bideford and Westward Ho! Railway Company where his fellow councillors had not backed him up.

Shocked, the councillors clapped although ‘some dissent’ was recorded. Whether a Mayor had ever before denounced his colleagues so forcefully I do not know – but I doubt it. The councillors decided the best way to deal with Tattersill’s outburst was to ignore it.

For his part Tattersill resigned his seat a few weeks after the meal and died, aged just 49, in May 1905. His obituary tactfully refers to the ‘signs of nervous prostration’ he showed at the banquet reckoning they could have been brought on by the appendicitis that killed him.

Let’s hope I won’t have to repeat his words in May 2005.

Peter Christie (Our new mayor)

6 Responses to Mayoral History

  1. Timothy Heard says:

    Dear Bideford friends. I hope you can help. I am trying to find a comprehensive list of Mayors of Bideford for some family research. So far, no amount of Googling has helped me.

    If there is a list in the Town Hall can someone email me a copy?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Rose Arno says:

    Peter Christie is quite right about the Mayoral List in the Town Hall. There are photographs going back much further than 1994. There should be a list in Bideford Library as well. Perhaps Chris should take the Town Hall tour next time it’s available.

  3. Chris Trigger says:

    Dear Mr Christie

    I have just seen your reply re Dennis Stucley and the list of mayors of Bideford being available at the Town Hall. However, the list I was given is not in fact complete, and only takes us up to 1994. I wonder if someone at the Town Hall or Library could bring this up to date. I believe a plaque with a list of recent mayors exists in the Town Hall, which is not always open to the general public.

  4. peter christie says:

    Dennis Stucley was Mayor in 1954-5 and 1955-6. There is a complete list of Mayors in the Town Hall along with many photographs

  5. Chris Trigger says:

    Congratulations, Mr Christie, on your appointment as Mayor of Bideford for the third time. I wonder if you or anyone else can tell me in what years Dennis Stucley was Mayor of Bideford. I believe he was Mayor on five or seven occasions. Is there a list of Bideford Mayors anywhere? If so, where?

  6. Marian Holmes says:

    My mother was evacuated to Bideford during WWII and stayed with the Mayor, Mr Lang and his family. She remembers the time fondly and often talks about her memories. I, and she, would be interested in finding out any information on the Mayor and any of his family members who may still remember this time.

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