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Nares Craig obituary

My father, Nares Craig, has died aged 94. An architect by training, he worked as a senior civil servant for the Building Research Station (now the Building Research Establishment) for nearly 30 years. During his time there he developed the low-cost Brecast building system, which was used widely in earthquake and hurricane-prone regions. The majority of his work was directed at improving conditions and alleviating housing shortages in poorer communities throughout the developing world. This meant a lot of travel, and Nares was proudest of his time in Chile, where he got to know Salvador Allende only weeks before the president was toppled by the Pinochet coup.

Cameron Nares Craig was born in the week of the Russian Revolution. He was educated at Charterhouse, Surrey, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he became one of the "night climbers" of Cambridge during the 1930s. A strong believer in peace and disarmament, Nares became a conscientious objector when the second world war broke out, though by this time he was also a dedicated communist and, along with many of his peer group, he joined up in 1941 after the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union.

After a spell in the ranks, he served as a captain in the Royal Engineers and, while commanding tanks in Europe, won awards for bravery and redesigning the Bailey mobile bridge, which the army used to great effect to cross the Rhine.

During the war, Nares met Thora, a nurse and firebrand trade unionist who had recently returned from the International Brigades in Spain. They married in 1946. Thora was the love of his life and his political soulmate; their relationship lasted for more than 50 years, until her death in 1999.

In his youth, Nares knew figures such as Virginia Woolf, Clough Williams-Ellis and HG Wells. Later in life, he met and befriended many remarkable socialists, communists and revolutionaries, including Paul Robeson, Melina Mercouri and Cheddi Jagan.

Politics and family were the constants of his life. Nares is survived by his son Jonathan and myself, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. His elder daughter, Tina, died two years ago. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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