A LEADING GP, writer and water-cure historian has died at the age of 90.

Dr John Harcup, who was made an OBE in 2008, has been described by his family as “one of Malvern’s great champions”.

He came to the town as a GP in 1963, setting up practice with Dr Sinclair, Dr Payler and Dr Holman.

Malvern Gazette: Dr Harcup at Belle Vue Island addressing Malvern in Bloom judgesDr Harcup at Belle Vue Island addressing Malvern in Bloom judges (Image: NQ)

Together they erected the first purpose-built medical practice in Worcestershire, in Court Road, Barnards Green.

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But it was a home visit to one of his patients that ignited an interest that was to last his lifetime. Unaware the doctor was in the room, the patient’s daughter arrived carrying water from the Holy Well. “There you are, dad,” she said. “This will make you better.” 

“Where have we come to?” Dr Harcup asked his wife and fellow doctor, Mary, when he got home. “Some of the locals believe in water more than medicine.”

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That sparked a fascination with the water cure and Malvern’s history that led to the publication of books including What to See in Malvern, a guide to the town that has sold more than 70,000 copies and is now on its 9th edition.

Other books included The Malvern Water Cure or Victims for Weeks in Wet Sheets, and Portrait of Malvern, co-written with Pamela Hurle. He also co-authored The Spa Book, which is still a key textbook for spa professionals.

Malvern Gazette: Dr Harcup with his family in the Golden ValleyDr Harcup with his family in the Golden Valley (Image: NQ)

A Word with the Doctor, a weekly column he wrote for several years, was syndicated around the world and Dr Harcup also produced postcards of Malvern with help from his family and from another amateur photographer Gerald Fox.

He was a driving force in setting up the Malvern Museum, chaired the Malvern Spa Association until his death and took great delight in the revival of well-dressing in the town.

Dr Harcup also became chairman of the West Midlands Branch of The Elgar Society, chairman of Worcestershire Archaeological Society, chairman of the Malvern Writers’ Circle, and president of Malvern Civic Society.

Malvern Gazette: Dr Harcup with his cameraDr Harcup with his camera (Image: NQ)

He joined Malvern St John Ambulance as divisional surgeon in 1964, rising to County Medical Officer between 2002 and 2009. 

Dr Harcup became president of the History of Medicine section of the Royal Society of Medicine, as well as president of the Harveian Society of London and a livery committee member of the Society of Apothecaries.

He also made TV appearances on Countryfile, Flog It and Blue Peter, often demonstrating one of the water cure’s more bracing procedures on a cowering presenter.

Dr Harcup is survived by his wife Mary, daughters Joy and Claire, and grandchildren Gemma and Ben.