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Deryck James Colson Laming 1931-2017

xsgjExeter-based geological consultant and editor, expert on South West England and the New Red Sandstone.

A consultant, based in Exeter, Deryck Laming had been professionally involved with geology in south-west England for over 60 years. He was born on 24 November 1931, at Plumstead in south-east London, the second of three brothers. From Shooter’s Hill Grammar School, he went to Imperial College in 1949, graduating with 1st class honours and staying on to undertake research under Doug Shearman.

His PhD on ‘Sedimentary processes in the formation of the New Red Sandstone of South Devonshire’ was awarded in 1954, when he was just 22 years old – a remarkable achievement. Later that same year he left for Canada to work in the oil industry in Calgary, before an appointment as lecturer in sedimentology and marine geology at the University of New Brunswick, where he is remembered for his role in the birth of the journal Atlantic Geology.

Returning to the UK in 1967, Deryck held several university posts, including two years at University College, Swansea. In 1969, invited by UNESCO, he went to the University of Dacca, then in East Pakistan, as Professor of Sedimentary Geology. Later he worked for UNDP in Bangkok coordinating the offshore mineral and petroleum exploration programmes of seven East Asian countries. In 1974, he started his own consultancy, which he named Herrington Geoscience, after the village in County Durham, where he was living at the time.

Moving to Exeter shortly afterwards he rapidly established himself as a consulting geologist, working with industry, advising on dam sites in collaboration with the engineer Ernest Taylor and making a significant contribution to our understanding of the regional geology, particularly the ‘red beds’ which he had worked on for his PhD. He advised on shoreline management and undertook studies on local estuaries which, in some cases, involved 20 years of monitoring.

Editorial work was a speciality, and he compiled The Herrington List, which recorded the titles of research theses on British geology between 1960 and 1984, and co-edited The Geology of Devon. He sought a source of stone for the restoration of Exeter Cathedral, and was involved recently with the route of a pipeline tunnel beneath the Exe estuary. The South West Regional Group of the Society awarded him its Frederick Sherrell Career Recognition Award in 2011.

Deryck was a Senior Fellow of the Society, joining as a Junior Associate in 1952; an early supporter of the Institution of Geologists, and a regular participant at meetings of the Ussher Society. He had many interests outside geology: he sang in local choirs, was involved in local politics and was an active member of the Methodist Church in Exeter. He had attended the Ussher meeting in early January, where he took a full part in the discussions, but soon afterwards fell, fracturing his hip and contracting pneumonia, from which he died on 30 January.  An early marriage broke down and for the past two years he had lived with Margaret Dobson, a geologist, fellow student and long-time friend, who survives him.

John Mather