HE was perhaps best known in the Tyne Valley for the two decades he served as a councillor.

From 1989 to 2009, Bill Purdue represented the South Tynedale ward on Northumberland County Council.

The affable man was a familiar face at parish council meetings in the area, and also at the council’s headquarters in Morpeth, where he chaired committees and championed local causes.

But away from council matters, Bill was a distinguished professor, historian and author, who penned no fewer than 16 books.

Now tributes are being paid to the Allendale man, who has died aged 79.

Coun. Colin Horncastle, who succeeded Bill as councillor for South Tynedale said: “As a man, he was a lovely, friendly person, who gave me a lot of support and advice in my early days as a councillor.

“He was a mentor for me. I have many fond memories of Bill. He was active in the community until just a couple of months ago and he will be very sadly missed.”

Born in North Tyneside, Bill grew up in North Shields and Whitley Bay, where he developed an affinity with the sea, before and going on to graduate in history at King’s College in London.

He spent two years with the Instructor Branch of the Royal Navy, before becoming a lecturer at Newcastle Polytechnic, and moving on to join the Open University.

Bill dedicated most of his academic career to the Open University, serving as a reader in British History, and was a visiting professor at Northumbria University.

A man with a passion for the North-East, its history and politics, Bill carried out extensive research and produced books on the monarchy, including The Monachy and The British People: 1760 to the Present.

Bill’s vast library also included the in-depth Newcastle: The Biography - the story of the city from its Roman origins to the present day.

He also penned prominent articles on political campaigns in the 19th and 20th century in North-East politics, and completed a thesis at Newcastle University which explored the origins of the Labour party in the region.

Bill leaves his wife of 41 years, Marie, and daughter Jessica.

Marie said: “Bill was well known and respected across the North-East and beyond.

“We have taken great comfort from the messages of kindness we have received, and also the glowing endorsement of Bill’s work throughout his career.”

Bill’s most recent work looked at Northumbrian support for the Jacobite Rising in 1715, and Marie said he had plans to continue writing.

A funeral service took place at St. Cuthbert’s Church In Allendale on December 3.