For miles around, the work of Joe Mitchell was seen by local people, day in and day out, with very few people realising it! Joe was a carpenter who learned his trade from his father who ran a wheelwright's business at Knowle Village, near Copplestone, where Joe was born.
As the family business ran down, in 1929 Joe got a job with Devon County Council, after demonstrating his carpentry skills by making a test piece! Deputed to work for Crediton Rural District Council, initially from their North Street depot, over the next 43 years Joe made and maintained all the finger posts (signposts) for miles around. Repairs were often carried out on site, which Joe reached by bicycle, and all the work was done with hand tools. Some of Joe’s tools were given to Crediton Museum by Joe's family following his death in 1993. The distinctive design was Joe’s and the material used was solid Devon oak for the post and pine (or red deal as it was known) for the fingers.
Very few of Joe's finger posts remain and they are likely eventually to become extinct. So Crediton Museum was delighted recently to be able to acquire Joe's 3-finger post that stood outside Forches Cottage in Higher Road until about 20 years ago. The fingers point to Tiverton etc. to the east, Okehampton etc. to the west and 'Crediton 1/2' to the south (down Alexandra Road).
Crediton Area History & Museum Society chairman John Heal said "We are so pleased to obtain this finger post which will ensure that at least one will survive. We hope to display it in the museum, with some of Joe's tools and an explanation of the impact he made on the street scene for miles around over many years."