RTPI NEWS: Jim Amos - outstanding service to planning and to the institute

He was a man of deep convictions and upheld the highest standards in all that he did

Francis John Clarke Amos, Jim as we knew him, was born in London in 1924 and died on 20 May 2003. Educated at Dulwich College, he joined the army in 1943 and rose to the rank of captain. He saw service in the Indian Army at GHQ Delhi and on the North West Frontier.

Following demobilisation, he studied architecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic, where he was awarded a diploma in architecture in 1951 and became a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1954.

He studied town planning at the School of Planning and Research for Regional Development in London, where he became greatly influenced by the inspirational teaching of E E A Rowse. This was about the concept of "the composite mind", involving inputs from and interactions between professions as the only effective way of working to produce optimum planning solutions.

He was awarded a diploma in planning in 1953 and in 1955 was elected a member of the institute. He obtained a BSc in social anthropology from the London School of Economics in 1956, which he found to be valuable in understanding the culture of the various communities with whom he worked.

Jim worked at Harlow New Town on housing and industrial sites from 1951-53 and then joined the London County Council working on the restoration of the war-damaged inner London suburbs. In 1958 he joined the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and was regional planning officer first for the North East and then for the North West. In 1959 he was seconded to become the general technical adviser to the Ethiopian government and special adviser to the Emperor. There he prepared a plan for the decentralisation of the Addis Ababa region, which included organising the first aerial survey and population census for the region and studies of social organisation and land ownership.

He became a divisional planning officer to Liverpool City Council in 1962 and was promoted to become the city planning officer in 1966, an appointment that he held until 1973. As city planning officer he devised the use of indices for social deprivation and served on the Liverpool council of social services. He was chairman of the Merseyside joint structure plan technical committee and the Merseyside group for local government reorganisation.

In 1973 he was appointed chief executive to the City of Birmingham District Council and became a social services adviser to the Association of Metropolitan Authorities. In 1977 he became the consultant to the Saudi Arabian government on the administrative structure of the new town of Jubail. From 1978-91 he was senior fellow at the school of public policy at the University of Birmingham, where he was engaged on teaching, research and consultancy on a wide range of topics.

After 1991 and up to the time of his death he was an independent consultant on industrial development and management and carried out a number of commissions on these matters throughout the world, particularly in developing countries.

He was particularly fond of the Indian sub-continent and had close ties with Bombay.

Jim gave extraordinary service to the institute and was a member of the council continuously from 1964 to 2003. He was one of the longest-continuous serving members of council in the history of the institute. He was president in 1971-72 and the first to serve under the title of the RTPI. In his presidential address he said: "I will endeavour to ensure that all shades of opinion within the institute are adequately presented. How can the institute best contribute to the needs of society? Clearly by ensuring that the necessary skills and understanding are developed as expeditiously as possible." These were two of the tenets that he followed throughout his service to the institute.

He served as honorary secretary from 1979-90 and was a member of the management board from 1980, being the longest-serving member. He was chairman of the education committee, the finance staff and premises committee, the professional activities committee and the conduct and discipline panel and acted as an external examiner to many universities and polytechnics, a task he always found rewarding. He instigated the commitment of the institute to Planning Aid. He was a member of the North West Branch committee and also served on the executive committee of the then Town and Country Planning Summer School.

He was closely involved in the Regional Planning Association and served on the Town and Country Planning Association council for 12 years. Jim was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1972.

During his life he was associated with a number of universities; in addition to serving as a member of the court of Nottingham University, he was special professor of planning and management there. He also held the titles of visiting professor in the department of architecture and planning at Queen's University Belfast, visiting professor at the Technical University of Munich and honorary senior fellow of the school of public policy at the University of Birmingham.

Jim Amos made an outstanding contribution to town and country planning in this country and abroad in a distinguished career that lasted for more than half a century. He had an exceptional knowledge and experience of planning due to appointments that he held and the tasks he carried out in 39 countries.

He was a man of deep convictions, and held the highest standards in all that he did. Throughout his work for the institute, he was always seeking methods of improving standards of competence and ways of widening the membership. It is pleasing to know that Jim lived to see that the proposed changes for the institute were approved by the membership.