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October's Blue Plaque Unveilings

Blue Plaque Landscape

 Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Blue Plaque scheme celebrates the heritage of the County Borough by placing blue plaques dedicated to people who contributed to the history of the area on buildings were they worked, lived or performed. Two new Blue Plaques were unveiled in Rhondda Cynon Taf this month to two very deserving nominees.

 The first unveiling took place in Stanleytown on October 14th where a plaque dedicated to Gwilym Elfed (Elfie) Davies, Lord and Baron Davies of Penrhys was installed on the house where he lived at 22 Middle Terrace.

 Elfed was educated at the Tylorstown Rhondda Elementary School before becoming a coal miner. He joined the Labour Party and the South Wales Miners Federation in 1929 and was chair, then treasurer and finally secretary of Tylorstown Colliery Lodge between the years of 1934 and 1954.  His political career started to take off between 1958 – 1959 when he served as the chair of the Aberdare and Rhondda District of the UK National Union of Mineworkers and was active in the Labour Party.

 From 1954 to 1961, he served on Glamorgan County Council. He was elected as Member of Parliament for Rhondda East at the 1959 general election and went on to become elevated to the Peerage as Lord Davies of Penrhys and from 1964 until 1968, was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Ray Gunter the Minister of Power. He served in Parliament until his constituency was abolished at the February 1974 general election. Elfie was subsequently given a life peerage as Baron Davies of Penrhys of Rhondda in the County of Mid Glamorgan. In retirement, he served on the South Wales Electricity Board and the National Sports Council for Wales. 

 The second of October’s Blue Plaques is dedicated to Mr John Haydn Davies MBE who was the Musical Director of the world-famous Treorchy Male Choir.

 John Davies was born on February 3, 1905 in the village of Blaencwm. John received his education at the local school in Blaencwm, Tonypandy Grammar School and Caerleon Technical College. Having completed his course at Caerleon he returned to Blaencwm as a teacher, becoming headmaster in 1955. In 1960 he was appointed headmaster of Bodringallt school in Ystrad and retired in 1970.

 As a young boy John Davies interested himself in tonic solfa classes, began to play the violin and joined the local amateur orchestra. This experience and knowledge of solfa proved of great value when in 1933, aged 28, he was faced by his first body of male singers – the Blaenselsig Male Voice Choir. From 1935 to 1947 he conducted with notable success the Blaencwm Choral Society.  John was appointed Assistant Conductor under Arthur Davies to the Treorchy & District Male Voice Choir in 1938, accompanied by his friend Tom Jones as pianist. The Choir disbanded in 1943 but when it reformed three years later John was appointed its full-time conductor. It was under his distinguished leadership that the Treorchy Male Choir was transformed from a band of raw-recruits to an internationally esteemed musical institution.

 Pioneering the post-war renaissance in male voice choirs, it was under his baton the Choir gained a huge reputation in the choral arena, winning eight first prizes at the National Eisteddfod, and remained unbeaten with five first prizes at the Miners' Eisteddfod. In total the Choir won 22 competitions out of 27 entries. During his tenure, John conducted the choir for a remarkable 514 concert performances. The choir was amongst the first choirs to break into the world of recording and have since gone on to become the world's most recorded choir with over 90 commercial recordings. The choir even had their own weekly show on BBC Radio Wales. Choristers and friends were delighted when in 1961 the Queen honoured him with an MBE.

 Following his retirement from the choir in 1969 John remained true to his beloved choir and served as Conductor Emeritus from 1969 - 1991 and Vice President from 1971- 1991.

 John Haydn Davies MBE passed away in 1991 but his legacy lives on. The reputation of the Treorchy Male Choir has served to make the Rhondda Valleys known throughout the world. John was loved and respected by all who knew him and his greatest legacy is that of the world-famous Treorchy Male Choir.

Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taf, Councillor Wendy Lewis said:

Both Gwilym Elfed Davies and John Haydn Davies MBE were well respected members of their communities. It was an absolute honour to unveil blue plaques to honour these men and the rich lives they led, full of achievements, here in the Rhondda Valleys.  The Blue Plaque scheme continues to remind us of the vibrant history of Rhondda Cynon Taf and the people who led extraordinary lives here.

 If you would like to find out more about the Blue Plaque scheme and how to nominate a potential recipient, please contact



Posted on 31/10/2023