From textiles to diplomacy: Dr John A E Cockcroft, aged 75

A MEMBER of one of Todmorden's oldest established families has died.

Dr John A E Cockcroft, whose uncle was Sir John Cockcroft, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1951, passed away in Leeds General Hospital earlier this month.

Dr Cockcroft was born in Walsden in August 1934.

His father was Eric W Cockcroft OBE and his mother was Haidee (nee Sutcliffe). Dr Cockcroft grew up alongside his sister, Christine.

His father was very well known in the Lancashire textile trade, being chairman of the British Textile Employers Association.

The Cockcroft family arrived in 400AD, moved on to the Wakefield area before 1000 and from there to the Calder Valley.

They became established in crofting and later the town's mills, employing hundreds of thousands of people over the years.

It established the family's strong lasting and ongoing links with the Todmorden area.

From an early age, Dr Cockcroft was very interested in the activities at Birks Mill, Walsden, where John Cockcroft and Sons Ltd wove furnishing fabrics on jacquard looms which were very advanced for the period.

There is a family story that Dr Cockcroft could weave at five years old.

He was educated at Todmorden Grammar School and at Burnley College of Science and Technology.

He went on to study at St John's College in Cambridge and graduated with an MA degree.

After two years of National Service in Germany, he became a member of the Territorial Army, in the Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomonry.

His early career followed his father's at John Cockcroft and Sons Ltd.

He became chairman and managing director before resigning from the company in 1978 to follow his interest in international relations by doing postgraduate research on Western security studies at Aberdeen University.

He had also studied at Manchester University.

Work commissioned by the World Bank, the United Nations and other international organisations took him all over the world, right up to the time of his death.

His lifelong interest in international relations resulted in him being awarded a NATO Fellowship. He spent his sixth-month fellowship studying the importance of Greece to NATO.

Dr Cockcroft's family home was near Selby, with his wife Victoria (nee Hartley).

They had three children - Vicki, John and Alexander.

He first met Victoria when he was working on a thesis on Greek economy at Leeds University, where she was a student.

They were married at Castleford Parish Church.