Funeral arrangements for Harrogate's Malcolm Neesam announced but should he get his own plaque

As preparations are made for the funeral of Malcolm Neesam, different suggestions for what sort of permanent memorial to Harrogate's greatest historian should be created are pouring in.

By Graham Chalmers
Monday, 4th July 2022, 10:25 am

One of the key movers in the foundation of Harrogate Civic Society in 1971, Mr Neesam had battled major illness on several fronts in recent years with incredible fortitude and good humour before finally passing last Tuesday on his 76th birthday.

Hailed a true Harrogate hero by one and all, Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones praised Mr Neesam for his "profound contribution" to the town.

Should much-loved Harrogate historian Malcolm Neesam get his own plaque after passing last Tuesday on his 76th birthday?

Alongside his research and writing, Malcolm, as a key Harrogate Civic Society member, was the founder historian of the Harrogate Brown Plaque scheme, presenting plaques on the Tewitt Well and Magnesia Well in 1975 followed by a few each year until we have a staggering 92 plaques around the town today.

Harrogate Civic Society said - among many other achievements - Malcolm had been "instrumental in establishing the listing of many buildings in the town and in establishing the first Conservation Area in Harrogate."

In the short run, preparations for a funeral to this remarkable Harrogate man are in hand with a ceremony scheduled to take place on Thursday, July 28 at Christ Church in Harrogate at 1.30pm.

In the longer term, a debate has arisen among friends and colleagues of the author, speaker and civic figure as to how to ensure Mr Neesam's contribution to the life and history of the town over more than half a century.

Younger days - Harrogate historian Malcolm Neesam with friend and fellow Harrogate Civic Society member Anne Smith.

Ideas include creating a water feature, naming a street after him, building a statue and erecting a plaque on this house.

One of his oldest friends, Anne Smith, says there is one idea she is certain he would have liked more than others.

"I knew and loved him for more than 50 years," said Mrs Smith. "We met at the newly-formed Harrogate Society in the early 1970s.

"He very brave and has shown great resilience throughout a series of illnesses.

"He was a humanist and a great friend and very much a part of our family.

"My husband and four children all loved Malcolm as he was fun to be with. Perhaps that was not the impression he gave to the people of Harrogate but that it what he was like out of the public eye.

Anne Smith continued: "Malcolm disliked statues, partly, he said, because pigeons liked them!

"I think Malcolm might be upset if a new street was named after him as he wasn't impressed at all by the sort of houses they have been building in Harrogate in recent times.

"Along with the idea of a plaque on his house, which Malcolm had discussed in the week before he died, he also mentioned a new pavement trail in York that he was keen to see replicated in Harrogate."