In Dec. 1919 , out of 131 applicants, John Davies was appointed secretary of the South Wales District of the W.E.A. , a post he held until his death in 1937 . During the early years of his secretaryship, the Association was faced with severe financial problems and by 1922 he was owed six-months salary. He proved adept at soliciting funds from the wealthy while he was at the same time concerned that the Association should be seen, in the polarised atmosphere of the 1920s , to be aligning itself with working class causes — in 1926 , for example, he was minutes secretary of the Cardiff Strike Committee and duplicated the local strike bulletin using the Association's equipment. Unorthodox in his administrative methods, he was rebuked by headquarters for not conforming to regulations over branch organisation. Nevertheless, under his guidance the work of the W.E.A. in Wales expanded rapidly, the number of students attending classes and courses rising from about 250 in 1919-20 to over 8,000 in 1937 . In the struggle between the Association and the National Council for Labour Colleges for leadership of working class education in south Wales , the period of John Davies 's secretaryship saw the W.E.A. drawing decisively ahead of the NCLC in its number of classes and members.
In addition to his work with the W.E.A. , John Davies was joint secretary of the University of Wales Tutorial Classes Committee and was closely associated with Thomas Jones ( 1870 - 1955 ; see above) in the foundation of Coleg Harlech , serving on the council of the college from its inception. He was a member of the Committee on Rural Education in Wales established in 1927 by the President of the Board of Education . During the depression of the 1930s he was actively involved in efforts to relieve distress in the south Wales coalfield , serving as chairman of the executive committee of Community House , Senghennydd , and secretary of the South Wales Committee of the National Council for Social Service .
John Davies was one of the few socialists of the inter-war years to have an extensive personal knowledge of both industrial and rural Wales . His knowledge of Wales was considered to be encyclopaedic and in the later years of his life he put it to good use in the gossip column he contributed weekly, under the pseudonym ‘ The Watchman ’, to the Saturday issue of the Welsh edition of the Daily Herald . Although considered by some to be difficult and eccentric, John Davies possessed a genius for friendship, and enduring compassion for the deprived and an unquenchable faith in the possibilities of adult education.
In 1928 he m. Ruby Part of Somerset , national women's organiser of the Workers' Union . There were no children. He d. on 5 Dec. 1937 and was buried at Llangeitho . A memorial volume to him was privately printed by the Gregynog Press .
John Davies, Cardiff
Published date: 2001