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Early life

Parliamentary Archives, LG/G/17/7/15

What was Davies' early life like?

Stephen Owen Davies was born in Cap Coch (now Abercwmboi) in the Cynon Valley. His birthdate has never been exactly established. Like most boys his age living in the South Wales Valleys, S.O. began work underground at the Cwmpennar Colliery at the age of 12 and remained there until the pit ran out of coal in 1905.

It was at this point that the family moved to Mountain Ash and S.O. took a job at Nixon's Navigation Colliery. The manager at that pit, W. S. Davies, recognised S.O.'s intelligence and urged him to resume his studies.

Davies began studying mining engineering at night school in Aberdare. However, after coming close to a nervous breakdown, Davies went to live in Carmarthenshire with his relatives and began to study once more – this time at the Gwynyfryn School in Ammanford. In 1907, he attended the Royal College of Science in London (now part of Imperial College London) sitting examinations in mining engineering and colliery management. His results were impressive and earned him a scholarship to travel to coalfields in Belgium, France and France, to study mining techniques there. He returned to Britain firmly on the road out of the pit.

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