ET Craig: proto-socialist, phrenologist and public health engineer

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Abstract

ET Craig's long life spanned almost all of the 19th century. Coming from a working class background, his political sympathies lay on the left and he immersed himself in the leftist political movements which were popular in the British Isles at the time: from the early Labour Movement, (he was present at the Peterloo Massacre in 1819), to Owenite Communities, the Co-operative Movement, and the birth of modern Socialism. He is best remembered as the Secretary of the Ralahine Community in Co Clare, Ireland, from 1831–33. This is seen as the most successful of all the Owenite Communities, and may have become a paragon for the Kibbutz Movement during the 20th century. Craig was primarily a journalist but, with evangelical zeal, he immersed himself in many projects of disparate scientific pedigree, including Public Health engineering, Phrenology, Mesmerism, vegetarianism and fresh-air faddism. He made significant contributions to ventilation and sanitary engineering. His ash closet system of sewage disposal, which he introduced at Ralahine, may have saved the Community from cholera. It was eventually adopted widely, and most notably by the city of Manchester. There is good evidence that Craig's ideas were pirated by an employee of the Manchester Corporation. The ash closet system was soon superseded by the water-carriage system.

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