Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Remembering Bwlchllan (John Davies)



I received a Email Yesterday afternoon saying simply "Bwlchllan has died . Nothing on the news yet". I knew that this referred to Dr John Davies. Almost immediately tributes starting appearing on my Facebook page and nearly all calling him Bwlchlan.

I wonder if any academic has ever been referred to by a"nickname" (though that's not treally he word) by both students and colleagues?

My first encounter with Bwlchllan was as a student in Coleg Harlech and reading his "Cardiff and the Marquis of Bute" and causing some consternation in the college library with a shout of joy when discovered a piece on John Batchelor  over the title "The friend of freedom".



For years I had passed it wondering who he was and now tthanks to a Historian called Dr John Davies I knew. 

These days you can find out by Wikipedia but for me it  meant that i was leaning more  Aberystwyth University  after leaving Colehg harlech.

So when I mid go to Aber it was only natural that as I was studying History I would choose Bwlchllan's  the Celtic people and the British State 1870 -1939 as part of my degrre course.


And so two years I would join with others spellbound after the door to the lecture open Bwlchllan would enter settle himself in a chair  and bgin with a long drawn out 

"Well . Last time..."

He would probably have sent a Teaching Inspector into apoplexy . Breaking all the rules of using OHP's  and handouts  However I doubt if anyone would have learned or   remembered more as his magical voice  and as  but peppered  the lecture theatre with anecdote's

Such as when he was with a group in Dublin awho   looked up the  Phone Book in a call box and rang the number of the President of Ireland  and to their astonishment finding it answered by De Velera himself and being invited to tea. 

Bwlchllan then said he tried looking up under Q in London to no avail.

All these anecdote's were however relevant o the course  as when he explained seeing a Crofter's course  a Croffters Court in the Highlands being held in the open with a Land Rover being used to conduct the proceeding.

Some year's later when with a friend in a Greenwich  second hand book shop  I caused  some consternation again when I discovered a pristine hardbackcopy of his Hanes Cynmru for £4 pounds  and although  my Welsh was nor good enough my friend got a bargain of a lifetime.
Hanes Cymru published  by Penguin was a grounbreakung  book not only in it's subject matter but because being published by a major publisher led to it being second only to the Bible in copies sold.

Later I was to read it in translation but I regret that I was unable to here it in the original.

Few people can have had such an impact on the teaching of Welsh History and Culture and few will be mourned as much Dr John Davies and few will be given a affectionate title as Bwlchllan.









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1 comment:

  1. A fitting tribute to a truly great man, RIP John Davies

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