A FORMER Herefordshire hotelier who played host to thousands, including Frankenstein's monster, has died at the age of 89.

Leslie Wrist, who was living at Leadon Bank, Ledbury, was in turns a journalist, a soldier, a publican and a family man; a fixture of the town from the moment he moved into the area 54 years ago.

He was the first chairman of Ledbury Licensed Victuallers' Association, chairman of the Urban Council, magistrate and founder member and chairman of Ledbury Rotary club.

Though he was an active member of all these organisations it will be his work running the Talbot Hotel that he will be most fondly remembered for. With his wife he held the licence for 21 years until retiring in 1969.

During his time at the 16th century hotel he played mine host to Boris Karloff, famous for his role as Frankenstein's monster, and achieved his own local renown for the role his Labrador played in the running of the pub. The dog was trained to ring time by holding a hand bell in its teeth.

Mr Wrist's working life started in print. He became a journalist at the age of 16 and five years later was made editor of The Torquay Times. At 21 he was the youngest editor in the country.

He continued to work in media spending time with the Daily Mail and Morning Post until moving into publicity with General Electric Company.

The war intervened and Mr Wrist joined the army to serve with the Royal Signals. Posted to defend the Thames estuary he was credited with saving more than one life rescuing people from burning buildings during the blitz.

It was after this period that the family of three moved to Ledbury and started nearly a quarter of a century offering hospitality at the Talbot Hotel.

His wife predeceased him by five months dying in February this year. He leaves a daughter, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.