ONE of the country’s best known bell hangers has died, aged 92.

Frank White was the fourth generation to run Whites of Appleton, the UK’s oldest continuously trading bell hanging company.

The company was founded in 1824 by Alfred White – Frank’s great-grandfather and innkeeper at The Greyhound in Besselsleigh, who also ran a forge. It was moved to an Appleton workshop in 1880.

After joining the company at the age of 14, Frank White, who was unmarried, eventually retired in 1988 and the company was run by his nephew Brian and his wife.

His cousin Roger Mitty said: “The company was everything to him. It was pretty inevitable he would join the business.”

Born on June 8, 1919, in a cottage near Pond Farm in Appleton, Mr White was brought up in the Church Cottages in Eaton Road.

The only period when he didn’t live in the village was when he was fighting in the Second World War. In 1942 while fighting in North Africa he was captured and held as a prisoner of war for two-and-half years until liberated by the Americans in 1945.

In the course of his career he worked on bells from as far afield as Yorkshire and Cornwall, looked after all the college and cathedral bells in Oxford. Mr White was even arrested while working on the bells in St Ebbes Church when he kept his oil in a whiskey bottle and the police were called because someone thought he was a vagrant.

He was also nearly crushed by a swinging bell while working in St Aldate’s Church in the 1970s.

Villager Graham Rose said: “He was a lovely genuine man and a character the likes of which we will never see again. Everybody remembers him with fondness.”

Mr White, who died on September 6, is survived by his brother Eric White and a great many nephews and nieces.

A thanksgiving service in Appleton Church yesterday was attended by 150 people. Before the service the church bells rang a muffled peel.