Obituary: Canon Bill Morgan

William Badham Morgan, clergyman and politician, born Trelewis Mid-Glamorgan 17 October 1940, married (two sons), died Merthyr Tydfil 8 March 1993.

THE DEATH of Bill Morgan has robbed the South Wales valleys of an outstanding champion of the values which sustain communities, especially at times like the present when the going is tough. He stood four-square for the belief that there is such a thing as society. He amply demonstrated that commitment to the common good is worth a good deal more than any number of injunctions to stand on your own feet and look after Number One.

Bill Morgan was born in the mining village of Trelewis, a few miles from Merthyr Tydfil. After attending school at nearby Bargoed he worked in one of the collieries which provided the raison d'etre for much of South Wales. In 1965 he gained a B Sc degree at the University of Wales in Cardiff before studying at Ripon Hall, Oxford. He was ordained in 1972 and settled in Merthyr. In recognition of his work with the unemployed he was made an Honorary Canon of the Church in Wales in 1988. Three years later he became Rural Dean of Merthyr Tydfil.

Like many clergy in industrial areas, he combined church work with political activity. A leading figure in valley politics and a member of the Transport and General Workers' Union, he was in the forefront of many battles for trade-union rights.

As a tireless fighter for the underdog he helped to rescue many young people from the dole queue - the Merthyr Action Programme, launched in the late 1970s, stands testimony to his persistence. He served on Merthyr Borough Council as leader of the Labour group and held office as mayor. Ill-health forced his retirement from the council in 1986 but his interest in municipal affairs never wavered.

As Labour candidate at Worcester in the general elections of February and October 1974 he succeeded in reducing the majority of the incumbent Peter Walker from 7,000 to 5,000. When Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited Britain in February 1989 it was natural that Tutu should return to Merthyr where a couple of years earlier he had been made a Freeman of the Borough. It was also entirely natural that he should renew his friendship with Bill Morgan; journalists covering the archbishop's visit retain vivid memories of the warmth of their meeting in a hall just across the road from the site of one of the town's long-gone iron-works.

Today the borough faces the loss of its remaining colliery, Taff Merthyr, which is one of the top 10 on the Government's closure list. It stands a stone's throw from Bill Morgan's birthplace. As time passes and the valleys green over, people like Bill Morgan, no less than the colliery communities in which they grew up, will continue to hold a special place in Welsh hearts. The valleys are that sort of place.

(Photograph omitted)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice