He spent almost all his life researching his local and county history and biography . He began in response to a competition set in the national eisteddfod in 1920 for an essay on the history and folklore of any Welsh parish. He never completed the work; but he collected and interpreted widely the history of one of the most important areas in Wales in the 19th c. His labours resulted in valuable essays, records and transcripts in fields varying from monastic to mining. One can but marvel at his feat in copying during 1941-43 , in his old age, many hundreds of detailed pages from the complicated mining deeds of the district. He rescued an unique 1827-28 volume of drawings by the nieces of Anthony Bacon II ( DWB , 19-20) which depicted the rural nature of east Glamorgan before it was despoiled by industry. His index of some 40,000 cards on persons, past and present, in Wales continues to be of use to researchers (copies are in the National Library of Wales and Cynon Valley Library ). R.T. Jenkins invited him to contribute 30 articles to The Dictionary of Welsh Biography , several of them on some of the most important persons of old industrial Wales .
He was also a socialist pioneer ; secretary of the Independent Labour Party at Aberdare 1900-08 , and consequently one of the chief supporters of Keir Hardie when he was M.P. in 1906 . There is a tradition that he was one of the most fervent members pressing for the nomination of Hardie in the meeting at Bethel , Abernant ( Sept. 1900 ) to contest the general election in Oct. of that year. Eventually, however, he turned to Plaid Cymru , supporting Gwynfor Evans in the Aberdare by-election in 1954 . Because of the luke-warm support of some of the chapels for Labour , ‘ W.W. ’ left Saron (Congl.) chapel, Aberaman , and joined the Welsh Unitarians meeting in Yr Hendy-cwrdd , Trecynon .
In 1901 he m. Margaret Williams , Henbant Hall , Llandysul, Cards. She d. in 1950 . In 1952 the University of Wales conferred on him an hon. M.A. degree, and he was sometimes known as ‘ Bob Owen of the South ’ (see Owen , Robert above) . He d. 31 Dec. 1967 leaving four sons and a daughter.
David Leslie Davies, Aberdare
Published date: 2001