NETTLETON: Frank

Died 19 February 2010, aged 88: Frank Nettleton, who lived in The Russets, Sandal, was born and bred in Wakefield. His father was a well known blacksmith and farrier in Wakefield with a forge on Dewsbury Road, near Westgate End. After leaving school, Frank completed an apprenticeship with Walter Robb, electrical engineers in Wakefield. He served with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and was posted to South Africa. After leaving the RAF he decided in 1947 to open his own auto electrical engineer’s business in Dewsbury Road, next to his father’s premises. His company cornered a niche and became renowned for its expertise in this field. In 1965 it expanded and moved into new premises nearby.

Nettleton’s auto electrical business became a dominant force in its field and its staff numbers increased significantly. Frank’s auto electrical parts catalogue became a byword, putting the business way ahead of its time. It became a focus and fount of knowledge during a pioneering time in auto electrical engineering. The business grew and grew. Frank showed his appreciation to his staff by arranging bus outings for them to coastal venues. Coaches would park in rows at Westgate End and became the subject of many photos and articles in the Wakefield Express. Aged 63, Frank sold the company in 1984 to concentrate on his family, primarily his wife, Ginette, and married daughter Barbara, neither of whom had the best of health. Both pre-deceased him and are buried in the family grave at Outwood Cemetery.

Frank pursued many hobbies, including membership of Wakefield Engineers and Wakefield Camera Club, where he won numerous prizes. He was also a member of Wakefield Golf Club and an Advanced Drivers’ member, taking regular top-up courses and tests, even in his later years. He enjoyed travelling which he did extensively, making good use of his camera. His friend, George Wootton, said: “For a man in his age, he had an unbelievable vibrancy for life and for others whose lives he touched indelibly. Two holidays jump to mind, one where, in his 80s, he fell off the lorry in South Africa whilst on a midnight safari, another where he was the only booked traveller from the UK to reach his cruise ship in Los Angeles, as all his fellow passengers in London had been stranded through snow. Frank, however, had arranged his own taxis and flights - and taxis on arrival to travel to the cruise ship where his booking had been cancelled through bad weather in the UK. Frank re-booked himself for the Caribbean cruise unknown to his UK-based travel company, who had cancelled all his prior booking arrangements, but they never managed to catch up to Frank, who was moving faster than they could. He climbed the Great Wall of China, visited the Terracotta Warriors and climbed to the Inca city of Machu Picchu, all in his later years. Whenever and wherever he journeyed, he took thousands of photographs which he set to music and captions on DVDs and sent at his own expense to fellow holidaymakers he had befriended on his travels. A feat beyond myself and many others.” 

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