Interview: Age to age
Bob Weighton, oldest man in the world, talks to Stephen Tomkins
[Bob Weighton died on 28 May 2020. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.]
Bob Weighton was born on 29 March 1908, the same year as Bette Davis and Jimmy Stewart, Ian Fleming and Nelson Rockefeller. Henry Ford had not yet produced the first Model T motor car. Henry Hoover had not produced his first vacuum cleaner. There had never been a public radio broadcast.
When Bob turned 112, in March of this year, he was recognised by Guinness World Records as the oldest person in the world. He was not able to celebrate quite as planned, being in lockdown.
Bob served as a missionary in Taiwan before the Second World War, as well as working as an engineer and a teacher. In his 12th decade, he has continued to write a monthly ‘Eco Corner’ for his church magazine, and to read Reform.
Congratulations on being the oldest person. How does that feel?
I don’t feel any different. I’m still the same person.
What was the world like that you grew up in?
I must say that I had a very secure and happy childhood. At the time little things got magnified but looking back, considering what some people have to put up with, it was exceptional.
There were seven children in the family, so, with my parents and my granny, we were a big household. We didn’t really require to go out anywhere, we had all that human contact at home.
This was in Hull?
That’s right. We lived in a big, double-fronted Edwardian house with a large number of rooms. I think to begin with my parents had the smaller house next door but had to move as the family grew in size.
What did your father do?
My father was a professional. He was a veterinary surgeon, had a brass plaque on the railing outside the house: Arthur Weighton Esq, MRCVS (Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons). You put your name plate out and hoped for people to come. He had a huge area to cover and huge clientele as well. A difference you would notice immediately is that whereas today, veterinary practices are largely town-based with pet dogs, pet cats, and so forth – on which they spend huge amounts of money – the main work for my father, though he certainly had clients who brought him cats and dogs, was farm animals in the surrounding countryside – cows, horses, pigs, sheep.
Talking of horses, there were no motor cars to speak of, and delivery vans and that kind of thing were all hauled by horses. The mainline station, which we overlooked, employed 400 horses to pull the vans from the railway goods yard. My father had the contract for looking after these 400 horses…
This is an extract from an article that was published in the May 2020 edition of Reform