A FORMER Lord Mayor and Sheriff of York has died, just days after his 91st birthday.

Alderman Bernard Bell was a Labour councillor in York for more than three decades after first being elected in 1971. He represented wards including Heworth, Walmgate and Micklegate.

He was Lord Mayor of York from 1992 to 1993, and twice served as the Sheriff of York in the 1990s.

City of York Councillor Brian Watson paid tribute, saying he had been a "great friend and a person I always admired, a tireless worker as a councillor and one of those I learnt a lot from, as he was always willing to share his knowledge and experience."

He added: "I’m sure he will be remembered and missed by the many people he had dealings with over many years he served the city."

Mr Bell, who was born in Leeman Road, spent his working life on the railway starting off as a cleaner and then becoming a fireman and then a driver on steam trains during the war, said his widow Doris. He was also branch secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen in York for many years, she said.

In the 1950s, he drove the iconic steam loco, the Mallard, and he contacted The Press in 2013 to support our campaign to save the National Railway Museum when it was threatened with closure. He said any such move would be a 'damn shame.'

Mrs Bell said he also hugely enjoyed meeting Prince Charles when he visited the 'Great Gathering' at the museum later in 2013, which marked the 75th anniversary of Mallard's world steam speed record.

She said her husband was first married to the late Lily, with whom he had two children, Derek and Janet.

He had been suffering from cancer but died at York Hospital of a brain haemorrhage just after Christmas.

She added that his funeral would take place at St Edward the Confessor Church in Tadcaster Road at 10.30am on Thursday January 15, when the collection would raise funds for the hospital's cancer unit and for a church appeal to refurbish a community hall.