Dr. Alyn Davies

Alyn Davies obituary


Eric Bourne and Barbara Hilton

The Guardian,  Tuesday  17 January, 2012


Our former colleague Alyn Davies, who has died aged 76, was the Inner London Education Authority’s last chief inspector for further and higher education. Alyn’s move to Ilea in 1980 saw the authority at the pinnacle of its achievements. With intellect, humanity and modesty, he managed our vibrant (and at times Pickwickian) inspectorate, accommodating our strengths and quirks, and always being there to support us.

His breadth of knowledge and experience enabled him to represent the huge range of interests within his responsibility, including polytechnics, further education and adult and continuing education. With college principals he was resolute and kind and commanded their full respect. Alyn, with cheerfulness and courage, contributed to the awesome task of changing, downsizing and disassembling Ilea, which was abolished in 1990.

The son of the irreverent Welsh Labour MP SO Davies, Alyn was born in Merthyr Tydfil. He was educated there at Cyfarthfa Castle grammar school and at Nottingham University, where he studied chemistry and, after some years in teaching, gained his PhD.

In 1966 he became an inspector of schools in the West Riding of Yorkshire, upholding Sir Alec Clegg’s vision of a child-centred, art-inspired education. Two years later, he was appointed principal of Bretton Hall College of Education, a Clegg creation specialising in art, fashion, textiles, music and drama, with 700 students and 70 teaching staff, and offering BA courses validated by Leeds University. In 1977 Alyn supported the creation of a sculpture park in the grounds of Bretton Hall; the park, with its works by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, became world famous.

Those of us who had the privilege of working with and for him will remember Alyn with deep respect and profound affection. He was at heart a kind man who was immensely proud of his south Wales roots and who cherished his family.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret, whom he married in 1958, and three daughters and four grandchildren, in whom Alyn instilled an abiding sense of discovery about the world.