Prior to his election as mayor Bidwell was an alderman of the Billingsgate ward from 1979 to 1996, and a sheriff of the City of London in 1986. Bidwell was born in 1934, the son of a wine importer, and was schooled at Stonyhurst. Undergoing National Service in the East Surrey Regiment in 1953, he served in Nyasaland, Kenya with the 1st Btn King"s African Rifles.
Bidwell began working in the food industry with the breakfast cereal maker Viota, and the became a director of Viota in 1962.
Bidwell was subsequently chairman of the food company Pearce Duff, headed the food arm of Gill & Duffus, and joined Allied Lyons in 1985. Webb died in 2001. Bidwell married for a second time to Priscilla Pode (née Hunter).