Malcolm Neesam, a widely admired historian and one of the key players in the founding of the Harrogate Civic Society in 1971, had battled serious illness on multiple fronts in recent years with incredible steadfastness and good humour.
But having moved to a care home in Harrogate to receive palliative care just a few weeks ago, Mr Neesam finally succumbed today, Tuesday, on his birthday.
Published author of many acclaimed books on the history of Harrogate, Mr Neesam has continued to work through the hardest of times on the final volume of his monumental history of the town.
It was only in April that he unveiled the second volume in the mammoth series – Wells & Swells: The Golden Age of Harrogate Spa 1842-1923.
The massive book, at epic 1,600 pages and typically full of meticulous detail, arrived 17 years after the publication of the opening volume, Harrogate Great Chronicle, 1332-1841.
The reputation of Mr Neesam, a longtime former columnist for the Harrogate Advertiser, was shown by his participation in April’s glamorous launch of the new book, hosted by the Harrogate Civic Society at the Cedar Court Hotel.
The room was packed with hundreds of people, including many dignitaries from the city’s civic life.
Despite his illness, Mr. Neesam appeared in person to speak at the book launch, a sign of his strength of character.
Mr William Woods, co-founder of the Harrogate Civic Society, paid tribute to Malcolm Neesam upon hearing the sad news.
“Malcolm Neesam, Walter Davey and I founded the Harrogate Civic Society outside of Woods in 1970 when we felt an urgent need for a conservation society that would primarily halt the five-phase traffic management system, with the final phase involving an overpass that would run nearby Passes Majestic Hotel.
“We’ve been good friends ever since – no one had a greater passion for the city and more knowledge than Malcolm.
“I will miss him dearly, especially for all his support and leadership in relation to the city.
“I sincerely hope that there will be an appropriate tribute to Malcolm’s life, be it a statue – a garden or maybe a fountain that Malcolm was very fond of.
“I will miss him very much.”