Thomas Graham Davies FRTPI

(Fellow, Royal Town Planning Institute)

By Carl Llewellyn


Graham passed away peacefully on Sunday 24th May 2015, aged 81 years old. The Dowlais Male Choir, its Musical Director and Accompanist send their sincere condolences to Graham‘s widow Mari and her family.

I would describe Graham as a courteous gentleman, with elegance in his oratory and respect to whoever he came into contact with. It was over 45 years ago since Graham and Mari made their home in Merthyr Tydfil and quickly became involved in community life. Having qualified as a town planner, he became a member of FRTPI (Fellow, Royal Town Planning Institute) and eventually gained employment in the Merthyr Town Hall Planning Department.

I remember Graham and Mari when they first lived at Penydarren Park when I was an apprentice electrician and did some work for them. Graham and Mari were faithful members of Hope Chapel, Merthyr (now called Sovereign Grace), where Graham was elected an Elder. As time went on Market Square Chapel and Hope Chapel shared a Minster, whilst later the chapels combined with Hope Chapel being closed, then sold leaving the congregation of  Hope Chapel uniting with Market Square Congregation.

One of Graham’s passions was to recognise the heritage of the town and with his assistance a Heritage Trust was formed. One of its aims was the placement of plaques for men and women who brought recognition and honour to the County Borough of Merthyr Tydfil, with Graham becoming its Chairman. It was at this period the Dowlais Male Choir became associated with Graham, when he invited the choir to participate at the unavailing of a plaque dedicated to JACK JONES, the author and playwright, who wrote about the life of the working class in the valleys, including his famous work based on the life of Dr Joseph Parry’s “Off to Philadelphia in the Morning”. Jack Jones was born at number 14, Harri Blwydd, Penyard on the 24th November 1884, and died on the 7th May 1970.

The Heritage Trust chaired by Graham thought it appropriate to place the plaque on the wall of the Chapel of Ease, attached to the row of cottages where Joseph Parry was born. It was a Wednesday afternoon, June 2nd 2003 when the plaque was unveiled, with the choristers of Dowlais singing a selection of musical items, ending with “Myfanwy”, the love song Jack Jones gave prominence through his book.

Though Graham was born in Briton Ferry, when he came to Merthyr he certainly entered into the community spirit and entered the local political arena by becoming a labour councillor, which he served two terms. His second term as a councillor he represented the Town Electoral Ward from May 2012 until just before his death.  

When Councillor Lisa Mytton was elected Mayor in 2012-2013, Graham and Mari were nominated as the deputy Mayor and Mayoress. And as a recognition of his present and past contribution to Merthyr Tydfil and its constituents Graham was  inaugurated the following year to the office of Mayor of the County Borough of Merthyr Tydfil on the 15th May 2013. His Mayoral Civic Service took place at 14:30pm on Sunday 23rd June 2003 at High Street Chapel, with Con Voce Choir and Dowlais Male Choir taking part. Graham and Mari must have been proud when their grandson Twm Tegid gave renditions of some Welsh musical items and from what I recall he had a rich baritone voice.

One event during Graham’s mayoral duties is memorable to me. I was giving a talk entitled “Proud to be Welsh” at the Ynysfach Engine House, where the room was quite full. Due to unforeseen circumstances Graham and Mari were late and found themselves unable to enter the room due to the amount of people in attendance.  

During his year of office, Graham raised over £23,000 for his chosen local charities, which were Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Aid Merthyr Tydfil. The Dowlais Male Choir played its part through the sale of programmes, collections at concert and in 2013 chorister John Powell completed a bike ride from Merthyr Tydfil to our concert in Clermont-Ferrand France, raising over £1500.

Graham also advised the council that he had donated a bust of Keir Hardie to the Mayor’s Parlour. This bust had been given to him when he had first become a Councillor by a relative who had been an ILP Member for Briton Ferry and an agent for Ramsey McDonald.  

Graham is now resting from labours after a lifetime of service to Merthyr’s community and he leaves behind a loving family - his widow Mari, three children Mark, Nigel and Jane, three grandchildren and one great granddaughter.

The Dowlais Male Choir were honoured to have been associated with Graham and his widow Mari, and recognises his contribution to the political and cultural life in Merthyr Tydfil.

I dedicate the following verses in memory of Graham Davies:

When I come to the end of the road

And the sun has set for me

I want no rites in a gloom filled room

Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little, but not for long

And not with your head bowed low

Remember the love that once we shared

Miss me, but let me go.

For this is a journey we all must take

And each must go alone.

It’s all part of the master plan

A step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick at heart

Go to the friends we know.

Laugh at all the things we used to do

Miss me, but let me go.

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