Advertiser – Children learn about history of ‘Hammerman poet’

Swindon Advertiser ran the following article regarding Monday’s Victorian Day at South Marston School

Pupils at South Marston Primary School dressed as Victorians for the day to learn more about South Marston writer Alfred WIlliams, also known as the Hammerman Poet, who attended their school in the 1880s.

As part of their history study, the children read poems, researched his life, and walked around the village to see his home and the cottages he built.

Headteacher Alison Lowe said the children had been very enthusiastic.  “It’s important that they have an understanding of local history and also the very first stages of the school,” she said.  “It’s that sense of local pride and community. Some of them did some research themselves and this morning in assembly some of them already knew a bit about him. The parents have been fantastic at getting all the children dressed up for today.

The children took part in a Victorian-style lesson using slates and chalk, and played hopscotch and hoopla. Caitlin Pritchard, eight, and Andrew Sampson, eight, both said they enjoyed learning about the writer.

We went on a walk to see where he lived,” said Caitlin. “We got to see the houses and we saw the little stone on the wall. It was interesting to see when they were built and when he lived there.

Katie Mann, seven, said: “I liked the poetry best because it was really fun. I might try and write some poems.

Some of the pupils, including nine-year-olds Emily Vareth and Maya O’Sullivan will make a presentation about the poet at the Steam museum on November 13. Emily said: “We’re a bit nervous. I have to talk and do some drama. I’ve really enjoyed learning about him.

Members of the Alfred Williams Heritage Society visited the school to help the children learn about the writer. Graham Carter, vice-chairman, said: “The pupils hadn’t heard of him before, which is not unusual because most people haven’t yet. He was quite famous in his time. The children were quite excited that somebody famous went to their school,” he said. “They have seen all the cottages before but didn’t realise there was any significance. He’s got an interesting life story, he’s my local hero.

The local history fair, which includes an exhibition on Alfred Williams, will be at Great Western Hall, Steam, on Saturday, November 13, from 10am until 4pm.

There will also be a musical show about the writer at 7.30pm. To reserve tickets email or visit

The full article is available here.

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