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History: David Davies and his Barry Docks association

Readers, this week we take a little look at an obviously displayed piece of our past: the David Davies statue.

David Davies is remembered for his planning of the dock at Barry. David Davies was a native of Llandinam; a town along the winding A470 in the beating heart of central Wales – north east of Llanidloes.

Back in the day David Davies’ wide interests would be set on a track of discovery throughout Wales; a land of few decent metalled roads, and a developing railway network. Getting anywhere in Wales would be fraught with lengthy journeys through the tracks of time.

David Davies had a sound business ethic, with many fingers in many interests. He knew of the importance of the growing coal mining industry, and with that he believed in the construction of new outlets for trade in coal.

A colliery owner, and a railway contractor, he saw that a further port was needed along the South Wales coast that could compete with the likes of Cardiff (opened in 1839) and Swansea (opened in 1881): although both localities had harbourage previous to this.

David Davies had one advantage over those who had attempted to create ports at Barry before 1884 (scheme’s that had failed): he had the ear of those in parliament, as he had doubled up as a member of parliament (for Cardigan Boroughs between 1874 until 1887).

The statue proudly erected outside the Barry dock office building, looks out over the Barry One dock. This is a stones throw from the exact spot where the first sod of earth was cut on November 14, 1884.

Even with being the deputy chairman of the newly founded Barry Company, David Davies, he required a powerful financial backer and landowner for the scheme: the powerful chairman Lord Windsor.

The statue shows David Davies pondering over maps of the area and the actual plans for the project. It is an important statue, in that very few such structures for anyone of note have ever been erected in Barry.

We see the importance of David Davies, in being one of the founding fathers of modern Barry; although if it wasn’t for this statue his contribution may have been forgotten throughout the annals of history.

David Davies’ qualities of confidence – such as being an entrepreneur, politician with influence, luck and being in the correct moment in history – made the Barry dock venture a success.

For years coal would be the chief export out of Barry, and even when his statue was lost under the grime of industry, coal trucks with the name Ocean Coal would deliver its bounty to the docks. For in the name Ocean Coal would be always linked with David Davies, for as long as they would traffic their wares to and from Barry.

Ocean Coal was David Davies company associated with the vast valleys Ocean colliery that he was interested in obtaining in early 1890, before his untimely death. His work carried on, and his company obtained the colliery on January 17, 1893.

David Davies’ contribution to Barry can never be underestimated. Thanks for joining us this week, and more on the Barry and district next week.

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