Whites of Appleton Ltd is the oldest continuously trading Bellhanging Company in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1824 by Alfred White who became interested in the workings of bells following his instruction in the art of campanology in 1818 when the three bells at Appleton Church were recast into a Ring of six by Thomas Mears. Alfred was Innkeeper at "The Greyhound", Besselsleigh, a small village on the A420 Oxford-Swindon road where he also ran a bakery, the village shop and a forge. It was here that he continued his work on bells, having moved from the nearby village of Cumnor, and many oak bell frames were constructed in the yard at the rear of the Inn. Alfred was born in 1804 and died in 1876. He started trading as A. White, Bellhanger, and eventually took his sons into the business and traded as A. White & Sons. Even in these early days he was doing work all over the country including work at several Cathedrals.
One of Alfred’s sons, Frederick, took over the running of the Company in 1876 and eventually took his own sons into the profession. During his working life he installed massive new oak bell frames at Christ Church Cathedral and Merton and Magdalen Colleges in Oxford, also designing and manufacturing several Church clock mechanisms. He moved from the Greyhound at Besselsleigh to the Three Horse Shoes at Appleton circa 1880 and from here moved to a newly built workshop in the centre of the village.
Frederick was succeeded by one of his sons, Richard White, who in turn took one of his sons, Francis A. White, into the business. Francis, or Frank as he was known, was a bachelor and his brother's eldest son, Brian R. White, joined him in 1958. Brian became a partner in 1969 when the Company name was changed to "Whites of Appleton". In 1981 Frederick White's old Workshop was sold and a "custom-built" factory was constructed, complete with new forge, overhead electric crane, tuning machine and engineering and woodworking machinery. It was constructed on a site purchased by Richard White in 1921 complete with a small building which was originally used as a stable.
Frank retired in 1988 and Brian's wife, Diana, joined as joint owner of the Company. In 2003 the firm became a Limited Company and Graham Clifton became one of the directors along side Brian and Diana. In 2011 James Haseldine became a director, as did Andrew Haseldine in 2016.
The Company undertakes all work to Church bells with the exception of casting/recasting. This we sub-contract to the bell foundries.
"On behalf of the St Paul's Guild may I extend my thanks to you and all at White's for your magnificent response in repairing the 4th clapper (and doing the other jobs) in good time for the Afghanistan 2001-2014 Service of Commemoration. We really appreciate the work you do on the bells and it meant a lot to have them in tip-top condition for today."
Paul Mounsey - Ringing Master,
St. Paul's Cathedral Guild of Ringers