Crediton clock specialist was ‘a real gentleman’

By Crediton Courier Newspaper   |   Editorial   |
Tuesday 2nd February 2016 3:45 pm
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Mr Dennis Musgrave Bickford. ()

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FOR more than 30 years, Dennis Musgrave Bickford had been the antique clock man of Devon, running a shop on East Street, Crediton for most of that time with his wife, Sheila.

Mr Bickford died last month aged 79 and his funeral service was held at Exeter Crematorium on January 20, taken by the Rev Preb Nigel Guthrie.

He had become well-known for his speciality in the repair and restoration of any sort of clock or barometer, but that was not where his career had begun. Born and bred in Surrey, holidays were spent with aunt and uncle, Dorothy and Wilf Ellis, in Devon.

An antiques dealer, his uncle’s First World War experiences had been the inspiration behind Michael Morpurgo’s book War Horse.

Dennis caught the antiques bug from his uncle, but his father had wanted him to have “a proper job” and so he trained as a print compositor, working in the printing trade in Surrey for 27 years. He had done his National Service in the RAF from 1954, his interest growing in antiques.

From Surrey, he moved to a London firm, marrying Sheila 49 years ago in Wimbledon. In 1983 they moved to Wembworthy, where they went full-time into antiques. Their daughter, Sue, was also involved. Not many years later they moved into Crediton, opening the shop on East Street.

Dennis’ first love was furniture but as he learned about clocks, so he began to specialise. He was a Trade Associate of the British Horological Institute.

As a boy Dennis learned to play the piano, loved listening to classical and jazz piano and Big Band music, an interest shared with Sheila.

He enjoyed the theatre, travelling in Europe, became interested in gardens and they visited Sue and her family in Australia.

After a heart attack in 1988, Dennis was one of the founders of Exeter Heartbeat, a support group for those who had suffered heart attacks, organising a celebration for its 25th anniversary in 2013.

Many humorous incidents in his life were recalled at the funeral service for a man often described as “a real gentleman” and so he had become known to his customers.

Donations at his funeral service were for the British Heart Foundation, these can still be sent via A White and Sons, Funeral Directors, Albert Road, Crediton EX17 2BZ. Alternatively, there is a fundraising website in aid of Dennis’ grandson Archie, Strong Will for Journeys Long, supporting Archie’s fight against Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) at: https://www.gofundme.com/4kwp8wzw .

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