John "Gangy" Davies
17th May, 1866 - 20th November, 1952

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JOHN DAVIES was always called Gangy (with a hard "g"). Alice Emma Davies always said that Gangy was a baby way of saying "Grandad", possibly started by Ronald Edmondson as a baby.

Gangy was in trouble when he was young (he was caught stealing lead pipe from empty houses) and was sent to Reform School where he learned to be a tailor. He worked as a tailor until he was 28 and then became a School Attendance Officer, which he did for 43 years. He also relieved Superintendents of Industrial Schools during summer.

He was treasurer of the Peoples Hall, Liverpool and helped himself to the subscriptions. He was discovered two weeks before Alice Davies was to marry Willi Kuyper, and the wedding was called off. Later, Willi Kuyper was killed on the Somme. (Gangy also pinched from the family draper shop, see Alice Emma Davies.)

Gangy then bought Helsby Hall, Netherfield Road, Liverpool. The Hall was sold in 1923 for a cinema.

Norah Edmondson recalls:
His father, David Davies (sic - actually William Davies), was born in Coed Poeth, and helped to make the sailing ship model (and to put it up) on the spire of St Nicholas Church (?) on Liverpool waterfront.

Gangy was born in Liverpool. He got into trouble while young and was sent to an Industrial School where he learnt tailoring. In later years when he was a School Attendance Officer and came across boys who needed help, etc., he sent them for training in Industrial Schools. In the summer vacations he relieved the headmasters of the schools and checked on the progress of the boys. He was also known to have taken food and shoes etc. to children who were unable to go to school because of the lack of these items. This habit of relieving at the schools was in later years to be the cause of his final demise in the upper levels of Liverpool society.

In Liverpool it was necessary to be teatotal, Protestant, and Conservative. Gangy was a member of the Teatotal Association, an Orangeman (being George Wise's number-one man), and helped Baden-Powell's brother George form the Boys Brigade in Liverpool at the time Baden-Powell started the Boy Scouts. He was also Chairman of a local branch of the Conservative Party, and a Mason, and had a large number of friends in the more influential classes in Liverpool. One was the Lord Mayor, who put the Mayor's chain of office on Gangy and said, "It will be officially on you one day, Johnny"

Then he split with Mr Kuyper at the Peoples Hall, Netherfield Road (Kuyper was Secretary, and Gangy was Treasurer), bought Helsby Hall and started his own Boys Club. He also had the Protestant Reformers Band practices in the house. This was the meeting place of Harold Edmondson and Alice Emma Davies. Harold came home from sea and went to see a friend who was practicing in the house. Alice happened to be on her way through the front hall, and later Harold's friend was able to introduce them (although Alice was not a bit interested).

The end came in 1913. Sometime during the summer of that year Gangy was on his way for a days fishing. When he got to the station in Liverpool there was a day trip about to leave for the Ayr Races in Scotland. He left his fishing rod at left-luggage and went to Ayr instead. There was an Industrial School there that he had relieved and some of his boys hr wanted to check into. On the way back the platform at Ayr Station was very crowded, and Gangy was stood next to the edge with his arms full of presents for Alice and Florence. When the train came into the station it rolled a little after it stopped. The crowd pushed forward and Gangy was knocked onto the tracks and the train ran over his heal. After a stay in Ayr Infirmary, where he refused to have his foot removed, he was brought home by train and ambulance, by his wife Alice, his daughter Alice, and Harold Edmondson.

It was always a point of bitterness between Harold and Gangy that Gangy never repaid Harold the cost of the fares from Liverpool to Ayr and return which Harold had paid even though he was not yet married to Alice.

Because Gangy had bought the ticket from one railway company, but the accident had happened on the station of another, he had difficulty in getting compensation. However he retained the services of a solicitor and was eventually paid compensation.

He had many months at home in great pain; at this time he started his bouts on rum. He continued his work as a School Attendance Officer but all other activites ceased. He later took early retirement at 63 because of the foot, but contrary to the doctor's statement, "Johnny, you will die of gangrene". For the rest of his life bone splinters would work there way through the skin of his ankle, but he died of old age and still had the shattered foot.

Helsby Hall was sold in 1923 for a cinema. Gangy is buried in Everton Cemetery, Liverpool.

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