OBITUARY : John Craig

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The Independent Online
John Craig, former Head of the Department of Town and Country Planning at Edinburgh College of Art, personified a generation and a people.

He was born in Warrington in 1932, of Scots parents. Like his father and all the first-born males in his family back to 1800, he was christened John. It reveals something of the reliable, unassuming but determined stock of Scotland's north-east coast from which he came and whose character he reflected.

When Europe celebrated VE Day, John Craig was in short trousers as a pupil (later to become Dux) at Invergordon Academy. Rationing ended while he studied Civil Engineering at Glasgow University. Conscripted into the RAF for National Service, he rose to the rank of Junior Technician, and acquired a stream of stories about the experience.

In 1956 he married Jessie Crawford Inglis, the rock for the rest of his life. There were millions like them, young couples wanting housing and aspiring to a better life than their parents. Realisation of that vision depended on practical skills, and men like John Craig. In 1959 Craig joined Cumbernauld Development Corporation as a civil engineer, helping to build Britain's most talked-about new town. He worked on site servicing for new housing, development of roads and footpaths, the sewage works and the development of the town centre. At night school he passed on his knowledge to Higher National Certificate students as a teacher at Coatbridge Technical College.

He moved to the newly established Livingston Development Corporation in 1963, to help build another new town amidst the remnants of the oil- shale industry and huddled miners' cottages of West Lothian. He studied town planning in the evenings at Edinburgh College of Art. He qualified in 1966 and, as the nation increased its investment in education, he was recruited to begin teaching on the same course.

He continued his teaching in engineering, infrastructure and building technology until his death. His ability to communicate technical matter was clearly appreciated by many students apprehensive at handling a slide rule. He became the Head of the Department of Town and Country Planning at Edinburgh College of Art/ Heriot-Watt University in 1978, saw that the department survived the 1980s when planning was unfashionable and universities were suffering cuts, and stayed in the post until 1990. During the 1980s he twice served as Dean of the Faculty of Environmental Studies in the university.

Craig also practised as a Chartered Civil Engineer. Among the projects he was involved in were the Landmark Visitor Centre, Carrbridge; the Bannockburn Visitor Centre; the Grange School Arts Centre in Oldham; and the playing fields and pavilion at Poltonhall, Midlothian. Places that made life better for ordinary people.

Outside work he served on the Presbytery of West Lothian, and on the Committee of the Royal British Legion Housing Association for their sheltered housing development in Bathgate, a typical Scottish small town, where he lived for over 30 years. His practical skills equipped him for the self- service society of the 1990s - car maintenance, home improvements, and gardening gave the satisfaction of a job well done.

John Craig will be remembered as a decent, kindly family man, who supported his colleagues and cared for students. His death was sudden, unexpected and untimely.

Cliff Hague

John Alexander Craig, civil engineer and town planner: born Warrington, Cheshire 18 May 1932; Head of Department of Town and Country Planning, Edinburgh College of Art 1978-90; FRSA 1982; married 1956 Jessie Crawford Inglis (one son, two daughters); died Livingston, Lothian 4 June 1995.

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