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John Bartlett Warren Day, 1925-2007

John Day’s professional career was spent entirely in public service with the British Geological Survey. He was born on 11 November 1925 at Heathfield, Sussex, and died suddenly on 13 August, aged 81, at his home near Farnham, Surrey. His secondary education, at Hurstpierpoint College, Sussex, was completed in 1943. He then volunteered for the Royal Navy, was commissioned and served in the Mediterranean in landing ships.

After demobilisation he entered University College, Cardiff to read for a degree in geology; graduating with first class honours in 1951. He was immediately offered a post with the Geological Survey of Great Britain's Newcastle office. There he mapped the geology of the Bewcastle Sheet and wrote the associated Memoir, (1970). He transferred to the Water Department in 1955 to become a hydrogeologist, first in London and from 1980/81 in Wallingford. During those 30 years his work fell into three categories: groundwater resources and associated research in the UK; overseas supply studies generally within the British Technical Aid Programme, and in his role (from 1974) as Chief Hydrogeologist. The results of these many activities are detailed in numerous reports, maps and publications.

John’s initial work in the UK concerned groundwater supplies for public authorities and industry. Subsequently, he undertook regional studies of the groundwater resources of the Chalk in the western sector of the South Downs and the Great Ouse Valley. In 1964 John initiated, with a map of North Lincolnshire published in 1967, the first of some 20 hydrogeological maps of England and Wales. He compiled (with Stephenson Buchan) the International Legend for Hydrogeological Maps (UNESCO, 1970). There followed (in 1976) the English and Welsh components of Sheet B4 of the International Hydrogeological Map of Europe, and subsequently the Hydrogeological Map of England and Wales.

Following the 1966 Aberfan disaster John undertook some of the field studies investigating the cause of the tip's collapse. In 1971 he conceived a new method of developing wells in both fissured and intergranular aquifers. With colleagues he oversaw early pioneering research to exploit the use of heat-pumps to develop low-grade sub-surface heat.

John’s view of service to society was international in scope, encouraged by a love of travel. He worked on groundwater development projects in many countries including Morocco, Iran and Nepal. His work in the arid territories of Chad, Mauritania, Mali and Niger led him to commission and install successfully pre-fabricated casing for wells in shallow aquifers in several of those countries.

John enjoyed a long association with the International Association of Hydrogeologists. He was Chairman of the UK National Committee for over 10 years, serving as a Vice-President from 1984 to 1993. In 1993 he was elected an Honorary Member of the Association in recognition of his service and valuable counsel.

In the mid-1950s, when he and his wife Cynthia were contemplating putting down roots, they bought five acres of woodland near Dippenhall in Surrey where John began to build a magnificent house in a woodland setting with an impressive garden. This was an astonishing achievement; a tribute to his energy, perseverance and enthusiasm for all things practical. Throughout his life John’s passion for gardening and embellishing his home remained undiminished.

John had a quiet, retiring, modest personality. He had a good sense of humour, never got ruffled, and had no vanity. He was a true gentleman. John married Cynthia in 1951 and she and their son, Martin, survived him. Sadly, Cynthia died two months later, in mid-October

Dick Downing, David Gray & Andrew Skinner