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Rt. Hon. David Rees Grenfell PC., CBE., MP. (1881 - 1968)

David Rhys GrenfellGRENFELL, DAVID REES was born at Penyrheol, near Swansea 27th April 1881, the son of William Grenfell and his wife Alice, the daughter of William Hopkins. He was educated at Penyrheol Board Elementary School and in 1893 at the age of 12 started work underground in the coal mines.

He attended night school to study Mining, Geology and Mathematics and in 1903 went to Nova Scotia to work with men of all nationalities, laying foundation to his wide knowledge of languages. Whilst in Canada he passed his Under Managers Certificate and returned to Wales in 1905 where he obtained First Class Managers qualifications. He continued to work underground until 1916 when he was appointed the Miners Agent for the Western Region. He became active in the local Labour Party in 1916 and was adopted prospective candidate for the Gower constituency in 1920. He was elected Member of Parliament in the bye election in 1922 and held the seat until 1959.

In public life, “DR”, as he was known, was a Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Betting, a Member of the Parliamentary Administration Committee, served on the Forestry Commission and the Royal Commission of Safety in Mines. He was Chairman of the Franco/British Parliamentary Party, for which he was later invested with the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. He acted as Chairman of the Welsh Parliamentary Labour Party and in Winston Churchill’s coalition Government during World War II he served as Secretary for Mines at the Board of Trade.

In 1951 Grenfell was sworn of the Privy Council and in 1953 until his retirement became “Father of the House”. He held office in many local bodies and was made an Honorary Freeman of Swansea for his contribution to public service. A bust of him now stands in the Swansea Guildhall.

In December 1905 Grenfell married Beatrice Morgan, daughter of John Morgan of Gorseinon. David Rees Grenfell died on 20th November 1968 aged 87. Mrs Grenfell who was a County Magistrate died around 1970.

These biographical details and photograph were provided by the West Glamorgan Archive Service and remain their copyright

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