Pewsey magistrate Jackie Lampard sat in judgement for the last time on Tuesday after a 44-year career.

Mrs Lampard, from Wilcot Road, Pewsey, has seen many changes in the system of local justice since she became the youngest magistrate in the country, at the tender age of 23, in 1969.

But plans to merge all three benches into one for Wiltshire, where JPs could be expected to sit in either Swindon, Chippenham or Salisbury, have proved a bridge too far for Mrs Lampard.

She said: “I was always going to retire next year, although I could legally have sat until the following year, but the new arrangements made me think that the time has come to call it a day.”

Mrs Lampard was a young bride when Lady Devlin, wife of one of England’s most eminent judges, asked her to consider applying to be a magistrate.

Mrs Lampard said: “She was particularly looking for a female under 30 who had no connection with farming and I seemed to fit the bill.”

She succeeded in her application and took her oath of office at Devizes Assize Courts, which then housed the magistrates courts as well. She said: “I was not concerned about being too young. You sit with two other magistrates and I felt I could bring a younger viewpoint to the others who had more experience of life.”

Her youth, beauty and elegant dress sense caused some confusion among the criminal fraternity. Coming out of court one day, dressed in a fashionably short skirt, she heard a wolf whistle and looked round to see a defendant who had appeared before her only a few minutes previously.

She said: “The look on his face was a picture when he realised who he had been whistling at.”

She was married to Colin Lampard, a long-time chairman of Pewsey Parish Council, for 42 years. He died of cancer in 2009.

Over the years the number of magistrates courts has shrunk considerably. She originally sat at the Old Rectory in Pewsey before the court there closed in 1990. One at Ludgershall had already gone.

Kennet magistrates court in temporary buildings in Northgate Gardens closed in 2009 on the completion of the courts complex in Wilton Road, Salisbury, where her colleagues on the bench bade her a fond farewell on Tuesday.