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the Rhys Davies Trust

The Salon That Began In Gilfach Goch

4th July, 2019

On July 4th, 2019, a commemorative plaque commissioned by the Rhys Davies Trust was unveiled.  It links a terraced house in Gilfach Goch with a shop at Cecil Court, off bustling Charing Cross Road in London. Photographs of the plaque can be seen below.

The house at 15 Kenry Street was the home of the Griffiths brothers, Will, Jos, Jack and Arthur, all four miners from their early teens alongside their father, Joseph, whose story helped shape Richard Llewellyn's novel How Green Was My Valley.

The language of the home was Welsh, and the brothers were also all fine musicians and great readers. The house was full of books and talk and the music of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.

In 1946, the brothers came together in London to establish a bookshop they called Griffs, a 4 Cecil Court, which very soon began to attract others from Wales living in or visiting London -- Dylan Thomas, Rhys Davies, Richard Burton, Gwyn Jones, Geraint Dyfnallt Owen, Bob Owen Croesor among many.   Griffs, London’s Welsh bookshop, was the place to be. It was often referred to as ‘the best bookshop in Wales’ despite its London location.

'Salon' may be too posh a word for Griffs, but the cultural value of this informal meeting place, where long conversations could be had with fellow writers, musicians and actors, and often a cup of tea in the cellar, was just as high.    

The Rhys Davies Trust has commissioned this commemorative plaque.  The Trust has already been responsible for the commemoration of a whole range of writers from Wales.  Twenty-two plaques engraved by the renowned calligrapher Ieuan Rees and celebrating authors as diverse as Jack Jones, Dannie Abse and Brenda Chamberlain are already in place.  The plaque at Kenry Street marking the importance of Griffs Bookshop will be the twenty-third.

For a full list of plaques see http://www.rhysdaviestrust.org/recent-projects?id=6

Sam Adams, Teifion Griffiths and Peter Finch at Kenry Street.  Photo: John Briggs     

Outside 15 Kenry Street on 4 July, 2019.  Photograph: John Briggs

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