A CHESHIRE historian who chronicled the vibrant history of nearly two dozen of the county’s villages has died on his 89th birthday.
Frank Latham, who was made an MBE for services to heritage in 2004, wrote 22 books, published between 1969 and 2007, to ensure the colourful past of these villages was preserved forever.
Mr Latham, born in Spital, a timber merchant by trade, was also a long-standing chairman of Alpraham Parish Council, an active committee member of the Country Landowners’ Association (CLA) and a former chairman of the Grosvenor Club.
He’d lived in Alpraham since 1965, with wife of 62 years Ann, before Alzheimer’s saw him move to Old Hall Residential Home in Malpas in 2009 where he died.
Mr Latham shunned all profits made from his books, preferring to redirect the money to charity and community groups in the individual villages.
A modest and laconic gentleman – affectionately nicknamed ‘F’ – he was also a keen birdwatcher, violinist, fisherman and hunter who rode his mare Bonnie twice a week until his mid 80s.
As a boy, Mr Latham attended Mostyn House preparatory school in Parkgate, Wirral, and, later, Uppingham in Rutland. During the Second World War, Mr Latham wasted no time in signing up to the Home Guard. He joined the Gordon Highlanders in 1942 and three years later, he answered a call for volunteers in the Far East which heralded the onset of a two-year spell in India.
Upon his return to the UK in 1947, Mr Latham entered the timber trade, working for Musgraves of Chester and the Summit Manufacturing Co Ltd in Speke, before forming F Kearney and Latham in 1960.
The timber industry began to suffer a slump in the 1980s and Mr Latham eventually retired in 1991.
But he continued to lecture on the intrinsics of the industry at Liverpool College of Commerce for a total of three decades.
In addition to forming several local history groups and appearing as a guest speaker in and around Cheshire, Mr Latham was also a local Scout master, a committee member of the Alpraham Youth Club and a church warden at St Jude’s in Tilstone Fearnall.
His Alpraham home hosted the village fete for more than 15 years. Wife Ann, 84, described him as a “loyal and loving husband who loved the country life, loved his horses and his dogs, and his country pursuits”.
Family friend John Richards said: “Frank was a good, gentle, erudite man of great standing and much loved and admired. We and all his friends in Cheshire will miss him very much.”
Daughter Janet Edwards, 57, remembered her father for his “contentment” with life. “He always used to say he was completely at peace with the world when he was sitting out on a lake with a fishing rod in hand – and that’s how I will think of him.”
Mr Latham also leaves a son Michael, 60, a barrister in London, two sisters and two grandchildren.
The funeral will take place at St Jude’s Church in Tilstone Fearnall on Monday, January 14, at noon.