DAVIES, Roland Oxford

1904 - 1993

Roland Davies

Roland Oxford Davies was born at Stourport, Worcestershire on 22 July 1904, son of Sydney Davies, a theatre musical director, and his wife Maud Louise. In 1911, Roland was a 6-year-old student, living at 11 St John's Street, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, with his parents, 58-year-old Sydney, born at Skipton, Yorkshire and 40-year-old Maud, born at Ipswich, with his sibling brother, 2-year-old Sydney, who was born at Ipswich. At the age of 13, Roland attended Ipswich School of Art for four years, the first two being part-time but on leaving Ipswich, became apprenticed to a company of litho-printers at West Drayton, Middlesex, designing cinema and other posters. As a freelance, he made cartoons for 'Motor Cycle News' and 'Autocar' magazines and from 1932-1939 created his plodding carthorse cartoon strip 'Come on Steve' for the 'Sunday Express' then in the 'Sunday Dispatch' and developed his career in drawing for other newspapers and children's comics including the 'Beano' which began in July 1938. Davies drew a tough-guy sheriff, 'Whoopee Hank', and 'Contrary Mary the Moke', a long-eared donkey who was clearly a close relation to Steve. His mainline comic work started in 1949 with the weekly serial of 'Sexton Blake', the famous boys' paper detective, in 'Knockout'. The success of carthorse Steve encouraged Davies to produce a cartoon film which he showed to Butcher's, a minor distributor of B-pictures, who gave him a contract for six, eight-minute cartoons at 800 each and, with finance from his father-in-law, Davies set up an animation studio in Ipswich, staffed by students from the Art School and headed by one professional animator, Carl Giles. One by one the six cartoons were made, this time complete with a signature tune composed by John Reynders (1888-1953), whose orchestra supplied the music track and sound effects. 'Steve Steps Out' was the first, released in December 1936, and Collins published a children's book-of-the-film. After working for the Ministry of Defence during the Second World War, in about 1970 he turned to painting in oil, creating London Street scenes, marine and cowboy pictures. He exhibited at Tibbenham's Art Gallery, Ipswich in 1943, 'End of a Messerschmitt' also exhibiting at the Royal Society of British Artists and at the Royal Society of Miniature Painters 'Royal Mail Steamer'. A member and exhibitor at Ipswich Art Club 1943-1953 but had exhibited from 16 Providence Street, Ipswich in 1923, an oil painting 'Morning, Windsor Street, Uxbridge'. In 1941 he exhibited two works 'Outward Bound in Daylight Raid' and 'Foggy Afternoon in Pre-war London', in 1942 'Ballerina', in 1943 'Servicing a Fortress' and 'Night Ploughing' and in 1944 'Still Night'. He married at Ipswich in 1930, Dorothy Coller. Roland Oxford Davies died at Ealing, London on 10 December 1993.
NB his date of birth is variously given as 22 July (official death), 23 (newspaper obit.) or 26 (1939 identity card)

Works by This Artist