Ray Davies was born on 26 September 1930 in Cwmbach, the son of a miner Cyril John Davies and his wife Irene. He attended elementary school in Cwmbach, followed by entrance to Aberdare Boys County School in September 1941. He passed his School Certificate examination at the age of 16, and decided to leave school in October 1946, after which began a most varied career.
He initially trained as an engineering draughtsman with the NCB and at the Treforest School of Mines for his HND. During this period, he also taught evening classes at Aberdare College of Further Education, which sparked his interest in teaching. Consequently, he made the brave decision to take two years out of employment to become a full-time student and acquire a formal teaching qualification from the University of London, 1956–57, and subsequently an M.Ed. from Cardiff University.
There followed an engineering appointment at Llanelly Technical College, 1957, then in 1961 he moved to a similar post at UWIST in Cardiff. Next, he embarked upon a completely new career in the Royal Navy.
After a period of training in Dartmouth, and postings in Scotland and Plymouth he carved out a a career of some distinction, holding the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Instructor Branch. At this time his interest in outdoor pursuits developed. He became a qualified football referee for the Navy, developed skills of mountain leadership and hill trekking. He also became an accomplished squash player and an instructor of canoeing.
He returned to civilian life in 1970, when he took up a post of Senior Lecturer in Marine Engineering at Llandaff Technical College. His final post was as Head of Engineering at Merthyr Tydfil Technical College.
In the summer of 1959, Ray married a local girl, Margaret Shirley Phillips. The couple raised a daughter, Camilla, who is now a Consultant Anaesthetist at a major London hospital.
Ray had a range of interests that were well developed: in literature, especially of biography; in history, and in music. The old Coliseum Operatic Society, Ebenezer Choral Society, Cwmbach Male Voice Choir1 and Mountain Ash Choral Society2 all benefited from his enthusiastic support. With many of these, Ray was the front-man, and acted as a compère for concerts and presented relevant background details of the music and musicians — all of which he carefully researched. He was also an inveterate crossword solver, and Roget’s Thesaurus was never far from his elbow.
He was also secretary and organiser in the ‘Cynon Valley Talking News’ which ensured that local unsighted people had access to taped readings of The Leader. He was also a keen Rotarian, having joined at Aberdare. When he became Head of Engineering at the Technical College in Merthyr Tydfil, he transferred his membership there3 but on retirement, he rejoined the Aberdare Club. In Rotary he was well known in south Wales as a quizmaster and organiser of the Club’s competitions. Ray was also celebrated for his lecture, The Sinking of the Titanic, which he must have delivered hundreds of times to various clubs and societies.
Ray was a regular participator at the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies at Aberdare Cenotaph where he was Senior Officer. Ray was also a faithful member of the Church, both as a choirboy at St Mary Magdalene, Cwmbach and in later life at St Elvan’s.
Ray died on 9 July 2016 after a period of ill health at the age of 85. His funeral service took place at St. Elvan’s, Aberdare, on 19 July 2016. The service was well attended and conducted by Fr. Robert Davies, Fr. Bernard Jones and former ABGS student Fr. Hywel J. Davies4. Interment took place at Aberdare Cemetery.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Ray’s wife Shirley for confirming some of the detailed information, and Rev Hywel J. Davies for providing me with a copy of the eulogy he delivered at Ray's funeral service at St Elvan’s.
CR. 30 August 2016