My father John Hood (also known as Jack), who has died aged 103, was a joiner and a lifelong socialist who, as Stoke-on-Trent’s senior clerk of works, oversaw the construction of many of the city’s public buildings. Among them were the police station, library, polytechnic and, in John’s last job before retirement in 1979, the city’s Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.
He joined the Labour party as a young man, remaining a member all his life – except for a brief period when he left over the Iraq war – and served as both secretary and chair of the Newcastle-under-Lyme constituency. At the 2015 Labour party conference he received a lifetime merit award.
Son of Florence (nee James) and Albert Hood, John was born and brought up in Burslem, one of the six Potteries towns that form Stoke-on-Trent. He left school at 14 to become an apprentice joiner, after pneumoconiosis forced his father, who worked in a potbank – a pottery factory – to give up his job.
In the 1930s John was an active anti-fascist, disrupting meetings of Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts in the Potteries. In 1939, at the outbreak of the second world war, he volunteered for the army. Posted to Libya, he was involved in running supplies to the Free French army; he was then transferred to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in Cairo, where he took charge of a workshop. In 1944 he was part of a group who set up a forces parliament which, following a mock election, produced a Labour government committed to nationalisation of the banks and the building of 4 million homes.
At the end of the war, John returned to the building trade with Stoke-on-Trent’s public works department, rising to become a clerk of works and eventually senior clerk of works for the city.
In 1980 he was a founder member of the Keele World Affairs group, which has grown into Europe’s largest public forum on global issues. A popular member, known for asking difficult questions, he continued to attend into his 100th year. An enquiring, outgoing, caring man and engaging raconteur, John had many friends.
At the end of 2017 he was proud to receive the French Légion d’Honneur in recognition of his wartime service.
On returning from war John had married his fiancee, Elsie; sadly, she had contracted TB and died two years later. In 1949 he married Sheila Roy, my mother. She died in 1974. Three years later John married Enid Ward, with whom he shared many happy, adventurous years until her death in 1995. This marriage also brought a large stepfamily, with whom John had a loving relationship.
He is survived by me.