A STALWART of the North Yorkshire political world who became the boss of a building firm which worked on the Bank of England and the Tower of London has died aged 77.

William Nicholson, from Whixley, was a sixth-generation member of Leeds master builders William Nicholson & Son and played a leading role in the Harrogate Conservative Association and his local church, being described as a “much-loved” man who “was blessed with a tremendous sense of humour”.

The Leeds-born father-of-three, who passed away at York Hospital following a stroke, was educated at Oatlands School near Knaresborough and London’s prestigious Harrow School before joining the family firm - founded in 1822 and specialising in building strongrooms and halls for major banks as well as the Tower of London’s Jewel House - in 1953. Its projects included the Queen’s Hotel, Tetley Brewery and County Arcade in Leeds.

Mr Nicholson married “the love of his life”, Pamela Sidi, in 1958 and they set up home in Long Marston following his National Service in Cyprus - which saw him become the second-last person in the country to be called up - before moving to Whixley in 1966. The couple had three children, Guy, Deborah and Tom, and five grandchildren, Araminta, Laura, Max, Clementine and Angus.

During Mr Nicholson’s time as managing director, the family firm was involved in installing the first automatic cash machines, but he left shortly before it stopped trading amid 1980s economic problems.

He turned his attention to helping his wife and her business partner Gail Jopling - wife of Lord Jopling - form boutique travel company Art Study Tours and holiday rental firm Private Properties Abroad, where he ultimately become financial director.

His 20-year spell as senior churchwarden at the Church of the Ascension in Whixley began in 1974, and he became a close friend of the village’s vicar, Reverend Ronnie Noakes. Mr Nicholson’s obituary said: “Together they were an inspiration to all Christians in the Whixley parish and beyond”.

As a “prominent member” of the then Harrogate Conservative Association, he stood in the 1995 district council elections alongside current district and county councillor John Savage. They were both defeated, but the obituary said: “It never dented either man’s enthusiasm for politics, both local and national.

“William Nicholson’s hobbies included shooting - a lifelong passion - gardening, birdwatching, walking, foreign travel and good food and wine. He was blessed with a tremendous sense of humour and was much-loved by a huge circle of friends from all generations.”

Mr Nicholson passed away on November 5 and his funeral took place at the Church of the Ascension on November 16.