Harrogate leaders praise legacy to the arts left by Malcolm Neesam after his passing

The tributes to Harrogate's greatest historian Malcolm Neesam who passed away this week continue to grow, in particular, for his contribution over the decades to the town's arts.

By Graham Chalmers
Friday, 1st July 2022, 3:33 pm

Mr Neesam, who died on Tuesday morning at the age of 76 after a long period of ill health, had been a supporter of Harrogate International Festivals.

Renowned for his epic books on the town's history - and for pioneering talks and tours as a founding member of Harrogate Civic Society - Malcolm's broad range of interests left a legacy which is now being saluted across the town.

Flashback to 2017 - Malcolm Neesam with his epic book Music Over The Waters at Harrogate's historic The Club.

Sharon Canavar, chief executive of Harrogate International Festivals, praised Mr Neesam’s kindness and generosity.

“This is Incredibly sad news,” she said. “Malcolm was a kind man, very generous to me when I started here at HIF and I loved his passion and care for our town.

"He was a supporter of our work, a critical friend and we will miss him greatly."

Fiona Movley, a member of Harrogate Civic Society and Chair of Harrogate International Festivals, said his commitment to the town had been “unrivalled”.

Flashback to 2105 - The late historian Malcolm Neesam doing a tour of Grove Road cemetery in Harrogate.

“Malcolm was an unrivalled advocate for the history of Harrogate and his incredible work to record the history of the town is a wonderful legacy for future generations,” she said. “He was a vice president of Harrogate International Festivals, he encouraged and supported my love of Harrogate history, and he was a dear friend.

“I will miss him greatly.”

Harrogate art curator Mark Hinchcliffe, who converted the Grade II listed Italianate building The Chapel on Grove Road in Harrogate into a six-bedroom house, arts space and luxury bed and breakfast, said he would be forever grateful for Malcolm's support, especially in securing a plaque.

In fact, the plaque to mark the historical importance of the former a 1,000-seat Wesleyan Methodist chapel had just arrived when he heard the sad news about Malcolm.

Mark Hinchcliffe said: "The brown plaque he had instigated for the Chapel had just arrived last week.

"I’d last seen him at home at the end of April he was always in good spirits no matter how ill he was.

"If ever there was a man whom needed rewarding for his passion and commitment to this town it was Malcolm...his knowledge and legacy will be with us forever. "