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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 1423 ..

Thursday, 27 August 1998


MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.


MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care): Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of John Bruce Gilchrist, who made a significant contribution to the planning of Canberra and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow, children and grandchildren in their bereavement.

Mr Speaker, John Gilchrist, former Director of Town Planning with the National Capital Development Commission, surveyor and town planner, died at his home on 18 August 1998. He was born in Trimdon Colliery, a small mining village in County Durham in the north-east of England. His family were coalminers of Irish, Scots and Welsh descent. His early education was fairly rudimentary, at the small, two-classroom village school and later at the district grammar school, where he showed an aptitude for mathematics, science and art.

He recalled in later life the poverty and the hardship of the miners and the ugly village, with its tightly terraced streets and dominated by the pit heaps and the winding gear. He also recalled the miners coming off night shift, still in their working clothes, miners' helmets on their weary heads, wearing leather kneecaps and black with coaldust. There were no facilities at the pit for changing or washing, and men tubbed at home in a tin bath. No doubt, this early experience of John Gilchrist helped him to establish a vision for a city that is just the opposite.

In 1952 his family came to Australia as [sterling]10 migrants and settled near Wollongong. They lived in a fibro Housing Commission house which John described as spartan. He went to high school for a year and then, after passing his Intermediate Certificate, he left to work at the BHP steelworks in Port Kembla. He went through engineering, surveying and other courses, and in 1968 he joined the National Capital Development Commission, taking a junior position as a surveyor and neighbourhood designer. He enjoyed his new job, where he was free to utilise his artistic and design skills, creating what he called people places rather than designing and building industrial plants, as had been his background.

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