From Hoole History and Heritage Society

DAVIES, Richard Cecil

Richard Cecil DAVIES

Regiment: Western Command Royal Engineers

Rank: Major


Died: 17 May 1917

Aged: 56

Buried/Memorial: Overleigh Cemetery Chester

Address: ‘Yorton Lodge’, Vicarage Road, Hoole

Cheshire Observer 19 May 1917

With deep regret we record the death, which took place early on Thursday morning of Major Richard Cecil Davies, at his residence, Yorton Lodge, Vicarage Road, Hoole in his 56th year. For many weeks the deceased had suffered a serious illness and the citizens generally had come to realise that there was very little hope that he would recover. The news that the respected alderman had passed away was receivedwith genuine regret, not only by Cestrians and the inhabitants of Hoole but by a wide circle of friends in Cheshire and North Wales, where always he had been held in high esteem. For some weeks he had been confined to the house, where up to May 4th he had attended to a portion of his Army work. The Major was of a genial disposition, and until his recent breakdown seemed to be in a very fit condition. It is difficult to realise that we have to add his name to the long list of prominent Chester citizens who have been called away within recent years. To his widow and her daughters and the remainder of the bereaved family we offer deep sympathy.

Entering the Council in 1893, the Major played a prominent part in the public life of the city, and in many spheres of usefulness he long will be remembered as an active spirit, anxious as he ever was to benefit the city on all possible occasions. In the late alderman Chester had a zealous and industrious public representative. The fact that he was elected Chief Citizen is of itself an indication of the high place he held in the esteem of his fellow citizens, and we may add that he proved one of the most popular Mayors the city ever had. He entered upon his mayoral duties when comparatively a young man, and although his twelve months occupation of the high position lay in difficult times presenting many problems Ald. Davies rose superior to all trials, and with tact and dignity always contrived to maintain the high traditions of the ancient office. A son of a citizen of Chester, Mr Davies, while proudly upholding the dignity of the Mayoralty threw himself with boundless enthusiasm into the strictly municipal labours, while at the same time taking an active interest in all the social life of the city. In the latter he was ably supported by the Mayoress, Mrs Davies, and it is no exaggeration to state that Mr Davies during his Mayoralty earned the respect and goodwill of all classes, and the citizens of all shades of religious beliefs and political views.

The late Mr Davies’s family have been connected with architectural business in Chester since about 1815. The late alderman’s grandfather, who came to Chester in the year 1805, was an architect and surveyor, and entered the employment of Mr Harrison, the celebrated architect who planned the restoration of Chester Castle and designed the City Club and other substantial buildings. The grandfather afterwards left Chester for a brief time, but returned to the city about 1815, when he started business on his own account as architect and surveyor. That business has been carried on by members of the Davies family without intermission ever since. Alderman Davies became a partner with his father, Mr John Henry Davies and on the latter’s death became head of the firm, consisting of his brothers, Mr Fred Davies and Mr Horace Davies. The late Mr R Cecil Davies had been a member for the last ten years of the Council of the Society of Architects. He was surveyor to the Chester Rural District Council, and in his private practice was engaged on many important buildings both in Chester and North Wales.

He, in connection with his firm, carried on the work for the Chester Union and extensive alterations and rearrangements for the Wirral Union, Holywell union and the Hawarden Union. He and Mr H Beswick were joint architects for the City and County Unionist Club premises in Newgate Street. His reputation as an architect and surveyor was such that he was frequently called upon to give expert evidence in the law courts in building disputes and similar litigation.

The day after war broke out, Mr Davies volunteered for active service, and joined the staff of Colonel Huleatt, of the Engineers’ Staff of the Western Command, and he was gazetted a captain until holding the honorary rank of Major of Volunteers in the Royal Engineers Regular Forces. In the early days of the War as a member of Colonel Huleatt’s staff, he rendered invaluable services in the many great camps which had to be established through the large area covered by the Western Command. Since then, this work has been sub-divided into districts, and Captain Davies was subsequently made a divisional officer of the Royal Engineers for Chester. Almost to the end, it may be said, the deceased carried out his important duties and did not relinquish the burdens of his professional work until practically a fortnight before his death.

The most important public work with which the late alderman was associated was that of the civic government of the city, and he early came to prominence, after being elected to the Council in November 1893, as a representative of St John’s Ward in place of the late Mr J D Siddall.

He was re-elected in 1896, 1899, 1902 and 1905, and on the 27th June 1906, he was appointed an alderman, in place of the late Mr Thomas Smith. He was elected sheriff in 1901 and mayor in 1908. Mr Davies’s professional experience as an architect and his all-round capabilities as a business man made him a valuable asset in the counsels of the Corporation, and his value as a committee man was early recognised. He was elected a member of the most important committees, including the Improvement Committee, the Watch Committee, the Assessment Committee, and subsequently the Electricity Committee. On the latter body he speedily occupied a prominent position and after acting as vice chairman for some years he ultimately succeeded Alderman Robert Lamb as chairman in 1909. His unceasing labours towards perfecting the lighting arrangements of the city were so far successful that before the War Chester came to be looked upon as one of the best illuminated cities in the North of England. His professional duties in the Army caused him reluctantly to give up this sphere of activities, but this break was regarded as merely temporary. By the many thousands of citizens and other Cheshire folk who enjoyed the concerts in the Groves, Alderman Davies’s name will be kindly remembered for his unceasing energies in promoting these popular outdoor entertainments, the proceeds of which, while under the control of the civic authorities, went in aid of local charities.

As we have already indicated, Alderman Davies’s year of office as Mayor was particularly busy, and among one of the many pleasing functions he was called upon to preside over was that on the occasion of the Duke of Westminster taking up the freedom of the city. During his Mayoralty, Alderman Davies revived the custom of having a Mayor’s chaplain, the Rev C A Griffen acting in that capacity and Alderman Davies’s example has been followed by succeeding Mayors who have chosen their own chaplains to do duty. The deceased gentleman’s activities in public life were not confined to Chester alone, for, as is well known, he was for many years a member of the Hoole District Council and one time acted as chairman of that body. It will be remembered that while a member of the Hoole Council he and Mr Duck held strong views in regard to amalgamation with the city, and it was in connection with these that the deceased finally retired from the Hoole Council. While associated with the Hoole Council, Mr Davies inaugurated the now popular custom of the chairman, and members and officials of the Council attending divine service at All Saints’ Church, Hoole on the first Sunday after the annual meeting of the Council, and this practice has now become known as “Hoole Mayor’s Sunday.”

The ranks of the old Volunteers are alas rapidly shrinking, and it will be with the deepest sorrow that the members of the Volunteer Medallists’ Association will hear of the death of Major Cecil Davies, who from its inception had always displayed the liveliest and most practical interest in the association’s welfare. His was a long and honourable connection with a Force which came into existence in days when no Derby recruiting schemes were necessary. Beginning as a ranker in the Earl of Chester’s Rifles, he rose to the position of sergeant and afterwards joined the Earl of Chester’s Yeomanry Cavalry in which he served for two years. Later he received a commission in the Flintshire (Buckley) Engineers at the same time as Ald. Robert Lamb when Major Gibson was in command of that corps. Subsequently Alderman Lamb became major in command, and his friend and colleague, Mr R Cecil Davies, very appropriately succeeded him in command of the corps with the rank of Honorary Major. It was something of a coincidence that on the occasion of the election that gave Alderman Lamb his seat on the Chester City Council, the late Mr Davies was similarly honoured. Major Davies received his medal for twenty years service as a Volunteer, and no-one will gainsay the fact that the honour was a well won award.

Richard Cecil DAVIES Grave

Apart from the interest Alderman Davies took in the Volunteer movement, he was also a keen participant in the work of the Fire Brigades of both Chester and Hoole. It is not generally remembered nowadays that the deceased was in early life a member of the Earl of Chester’s Volunteer Fire Brigade, and in later years was made …. Captain. He was largely instrumental in forming the Hoole Brigade, and laboured hard and long to assist in bringing it up to its present high state of efficiency. He became chief officer of that body and his untiring work on behalf of volunteer fire brigades was recognised by his being called upon to ….one of the umpires at many brigades’ competitions in Cheshire and North Wales.

By his death, Freemasonry in Chester and Cheshire ….. one if its most prominent figures. He was initiated into the craft at the Dee Lodge at Parkgate, which at the time boasted the membership of several Chester citizens. He passed through the several offices, becoming Worshipful Master, and he also possessed many degrees of the Order, more than any other man in Chester. He attained the dignity of Junior Warden of the province in the year 1909. He was Past Z in the Chapter, and held high office in the Provincial Chapter. A Director of the Freemasons’ Hall, he was one of those instrumental in its building, and was its architect. Since the foundation of the Deva Lodge he had identified himself with it, and held the office of D C. He gave as much of his time to it as his multifarious professional and civic engagements would permit. His loss will be severely felt by the craft generally.

The deceased was a member of the Deeside Bowling Club and the Hoole Bowling Club. He was an original member of the Bache Golf Club, and was an old member of the City Club.

The funeral takes place on Monday, the first part of the service being at St John’s Church as 12 o’clock, and the interment takes place at 12.45 at the new cemetery.

The 1911 Census shows Richard as a 50-year-old architect living at Yorton Lodge, Vicarage Road wife Amy and daughters Bertha and Irene

The 1901 Census records the address as 1 Vicarage Road and as well as Amy, Bertha and Irene, other daughters Edith and Bessie are both still at home. Also living there is Amy’s father Arthur Lockwood and Mary Lloyd a domestic servant.