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David John (Dai) Davies (1889–1978)

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David John (‘Dai’) Davies (1889-1978) coal miner and trade union leader 

Birth: 23 November 1889 at Vale of Clwydd, Lithgow, New South Wales, son of Welsh immigrant William Davies, coal miner, and native-born Matilda, née Gray. Marriage: 1915 in Hurstville, Sydney, New South Wales, to Irene Louisa Stewart. They had two sons and two daughters. Death: 26 September 1978 at Hornsby, Sydney. Buried Catholic cemetery, Northern Suburbs, Sydney. Religion: Catholic.

  • Spent 22 years in mines of Newcastle district and Maitland 1900s.
  • First president of Newcastle Federal Electorate Council, Australian Labor Party and secretary Kahibah State Electorate Council and secretary of ALP branches at Adamstown and Dudley. Ardent opponent of conscription, 1916-17 addressing meetings from Woy Woy to Boggabri.
  • Capable executive officer of Australasian Coal & Shale Employees' Federation during 1917 strike. Secretary of miners’ lodges in Hunter, Northern District Councillor of Workers’ Industrial Union of Australia, miners delegate to ALP conferences 1920s and advocate of One Big Union.
  • Secretary, Australian Coal & Shale Employees’ (Miners) Federation Jan 1926-August 1931, encompassing period of bitter 1929-30 Northern Lockout. Tireless and efficient administrator but ‘lacked vision and was flabby in his approach to the working-class struggle’. Resigned to become secretary of Shale Oil Committee.
  • 1941 shale owners’ representative at first meeting of pension tribunals after implementation of Coal & Shale Mineworkers Pension Act, 1941.
  • Pension examiner for five years.
  • Cause of death prostate cancer.

Edgar Ross, A history of the Miners' Federation of Australia ([Sydney] 1970; Pete Thomas, The coalminers of Queensland: a narrative history of the Queensland Colliery Employees Union. Volume 1 Creating the traditions (Ipswich, 1986); Australian Worker (Syd), 14 Jan 1925, 3 Feb 1926; Labor Daily (Syd), 13 Jan 1927; Common Cause, 27 Sept 1978

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Davies, David John (Dai) (1889–1978)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


23 November, 1889
Lithgow, New South Wales, Australia


26 September, 1978 (aged 88)
Hornsby, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (prostate)

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Organisations
Political Activism