Philip Vaughan Davies

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Phillip Vaughan Davies was a legendary but little known figure in the early restoration of the FR. His father was the manager of Penmaenmawr Quarries, his uncle was a headmaster at Blaenau, and his earliest visit to the WHR in about 1924 introduced him to the Baldwin, about whose clouds of entrancing greasy yellow smoke he wrote poetically. As a boy, he and his friend Josh skived off school four or five times to ride on the WHR, by bike to Dinas, WHR to Port, FR to Blaenau, and (creeping cautiously past his uncle's school) by bike back to Penmaenmawr (after the first time, they took the LMS to Roman Bridge).

During the war he served in Armoured Vehicles Royal Engineers, otherwise known as "Hobart's Funnies"; he had some horrid tales to tell from destroying a Panther tank ('fortunately it was facing the other way - the sergeant said "Quick, sir, fire the dustbin [a seven-inch howitzer mounted on the tank]" and in that moment, I saw the church spire fall down') to the liberation of Belsen and drilling parade parties for funerals of those who came back from the Far East ('they died like flies on the return').

After the war he became a Borough Surveyor, and was in charge at Aldeburgh for the 1953 flood, after which he and Anne moved to Dolgelley (as it then was) in time to take an interest in the revival of the FR.

In August 1954, he and a local Welsh newspaper reporter met Mr Gilbert and, promising their support and local knowledge, agreed to join the inspection party of the overgrown FR on the next day. The party comprised Colonel McMullen, Alan Pegler, Trevor Bailey, Bill Broadbent, Leonard Heath Humphrys and Fred Gilbert.

Phillip became Superintendent of Way and Works during 1954-56 and was able to extract from the Planning Office at Dolgellau for the weekend the Electricity Board plans for the Tan y Grisiau reservoir (now Llyn Ystradau). He had them photocopied and returned with no-one the wiser. This was a tremendous help to the FR because the CEGB used to cloak its activities in lamentable secrecy - the people whose land was to be used were generally the last to know. Allan Garraway records Philip Vaughan Davies' wife Anne providing tea at Tan y Bwlch for a Busta borne group including Allan Garraway, Bill Hoole and Ian Smart in January 1955.[1]

Later he moved from Dolgellau to Caernarfon, then to Conwy, where he stayed after he retired. He ran a garden railway for many years, to the delight of every child in the district. He was a poetic writer and a contributor to the Heritage Journal. For his account of early visits to the reviving FR see The Pioneers' Story. [2]

He took an active interest in the reopening of the RhE until he suffered a stroke and was deprived of his speech, a dire distress to so delightful an orator. His last appearance was at a WHRS meeting at Beddgelert, where he descended from Colin Hill's rather grand prototype Daimler and did a wonderful imitation of a self-important Welsh councillor. ('O yes, Chairman of the Joint Sanitary Committee...')

He died 16th March 2006, survived by his wife Anne [d.2010] and two daughters, Carol and Sue.[3]

edited from FR E-Group posting 34671 from Pedr

  1. ^ "1954-55: The Railway Reawakens - Part III", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 189, page(s): 544
  2. ^ Davies V D in Great Railway Eras, Festiniog: The Pioneers' Stories (2007) Davies M and Mitchell V, pages 42 - 46, Middleton Press, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9AZ.
  3. ^ "Obituary", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 193, page(s): 019


Author of works that have bearing on the area, or the history
Davies, Phillip Vaughan (1994). Heritage Group Album. Porthmadog: Festiniog Railway Society, Heritage Group. OCLC 45338479.

See also[edit source]