National Library of Wales

Ben Davies Papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 BENIES

Held at: NLW

Title: Ben Davies Papers

Short title: Davies, Ben, papers

Dates of creation: 1882-1952

Level of description: Fonds

Extent and medium: 0.837 cubic metres (28 boxes, 1 box file, 2 volumes, 1 roll)

Name of creator(s): Benjamin (Ben) Davies (1863-1957), scientist


Administrative and biographical history: Benjamin (Ben) Davies (1863-1957), scientist, was born in Llangynllo, Cardiganshire, the eldest of three children of David and Hannah Davies. He was educated at Llangynllo, Aberbanc and Horeb schools. In 1876 he started work in his uncle Ben's shop at Llandysul. In 1893, through his mother's cousin, Dr D. Rhys Jones, he was employed by Oliver Lodge (becoming Sir Oliver Lodge in 1902) (1851-1940), Professor of Physics at University College, Liverpool, as a laboratory assistant. Davies combined this post with further education at the Liverpool Institute, the Liverpool College of Chemistry and the University of Liverpool. In 1891, he married Megan Jones of Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire. They had a daughter, Gwenhwyfar (`Gwen'). Davies assisted Lodge with his 'ether wave' experiment and research into electrical waves, exploring the possibilities of wireless radio. In 1900, Sir Oliver was appointed the first principal of the University of Birmingham and Davies followed as his private research assistant. In 1908, Davies moved to the Eastern Telegraph Company, examining ways to improve telegraphy and relay, eventually becoming head of the research department. After retiring in 1922, he continued to conduct experiments on a part-time basis, the company taking out patents on his inventions, which were manufactured by Messrs Muirhead & Co. He published scientific papers, and was a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, and an Associate Member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers. Ben Davies also had a profound interest in politics and religion, describing himself as a `Non Party Christian Socialist'. His private correspondence, letters to the press, publications, and involvement with the Union of Democratic Control and the Fellowship of Reconciliation Committee and other bodies, reveal his deep attachment to socialism and pacifism. He admired Soviet Communism, believing that Russia practised what Christ preached, believing that a combination of Christian, Communist and scientific principles would produce a more equal society and a peaceful world. These preoccupations became dominant in his later life. Davies and his wife were influenced by Christian Science, and were firm believers in spiritualism, perhaps influenced by Sir Oliver Lodge, a founder member of the Society for Psychic Research. Both attended numerous séances, and Davies kept notes of the proceedings on several occasions.


Scope and content: Family correspondence, 1882-1950; general correspondence, 1891-1952, including letters from Evan Pan Jones and George M. Ll. Davies; important correspondence with Sir Oliver Lodge, 1885-1941, concerning experiments in telegraphy etc.; correspondence, laboratory notebooks, files etc., relating to Ben Davies's work for Sir Oliver Lodge and the Eastern Telegraph Company, 1892-1946; correspondence with Messrs Bibby & Sons Ltd., 1928-1951, about agricultural experiments; papers about spiritualism, 1894-1943, including notes of communications by mediums; files of correspondence, circulars etc., concerning movements such as the Union of Democratic Control, 1914-1949, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation Committee, 1915-1922; diaries, 1884-1950; pocket diaries and notebooks, 1894-1908; bound volumes and files of press cuttings including articles by Ben Davies; manuscript and typescript drafts of his publications, lectures and articles, with offprints, pamphlets and booklets; and files, 1915-1918, concerning experiments on the detection of submarines conducted by Ben Davies on behalf of the Admiralty.


Language/script: English

System of arrangement: Arranged chronologically by box.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright regulations apply.

Finding aids: A hard copy of the catalogue is available at the National Library of Wales.
Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records have been retained.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected.

Archival history: The main group of papers were purchased by NLW in 1982. Some years earlier, Gwen Davies lent a large group of laboratory notebooks and some of her father's diaries to the Physics Department, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and these were transferred to the Library in 1982 to rejoin the main group of papers. The papers were arranged in files by Ben Davies prior to their deposit at the Library.

Immediate source of acquisition: Purchased from Ben Davies's daughter, Miss Gwen Davies, Aberystwyth, followed by donations by her in 1982 and 1983; and a deposit by Lady Granville Beynon, Aberystwyth, in 1996.


Related units of description: Some items of equipment designed by Ben Davies are on display in the Physics Department of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.


Note: Title supplied from content of fonds.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Seri Crawley for the ANW Project. The following source was used in the compilation of this description: NLW, Schedule of Benjamin Davies Papers.

Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition, AACR2, and LCSH.

Date(s) of description: January 2003



Agriculture | Research | Great Britain

Davies family, | of Llangynllo, Ceredigion | Correspondence

Davies, Ben | (Benjamin), | 1863-1957 | Archives

Davies, Ben | (Benjamin), | 1863-1957 | Diaries

Davies, George M. Ll. | (George Maitland Lloyd), | b. 1880 | Correspondence

Jones, E. Pan | (Evan Pan), | 1834-1922 | Correspondence

Lodge, Oliver, | Sir, | 1851-1940 | Correspondence

Physicists | Diaries

Physicists | Great Britain | 20th century

Physics | Research

Spiritualism | Great Britain

Telegraph | Research | Great Britain

Personal names

Davies family, of Llangynllo

Davies, Ben (Benjamin), 1863-1957

Davies, George M. Ll. (George Maitland Lloyd), b. 1880

Jones, E. Pan (Evan Pan), 1834-1922

Lodge, Oliver, 1851-1940, Sir

Corporate names

Eastern Telegraph Company (Great Britain)

Fellowship of Reconciliation

J. Bibby & Sons

Union of Democratic Control