Tag Archives: Alfred Williams

Friendly Club – May 2013

Recent Events:

Tuesday 9th April

A talk was to be given by John James-Davidson on handwriting but whilst travelling to South Marston, he was involved in a car accident with a deer. We reverted to a social afternoon.

Future Events: 

Tuesday 14th May– In the Village Hall at 2.00pm

A talk will be given by Wiltshire Farm foods advising us of the selection of foods they supply. A tasting session will be given at the meeting.

Tuesday 21st May – Outing

The outing is a trip to Bournemouth. Departure from South Marston is at 9.30am (by car park). Return arrival time approx. 6.30pm

Tuesday 11th June– In the Village Hall at 2.00pm

Annual General Meeting. Members are requested to send their nominations for election to the committee to the secretary, Brian McGlone. Following the AGM a talk will be given by Graham Carter on Alfred Williams in South Marston.

Friendly Club Annual Holiday – September 2013

An opportunity not to be missed – open to non members

Our annual Holiday this year will be to Nottingham staying at Warners Thoresby Hall Hotel for 4 nights departing from South Marston on the Monday 30th September and returning Friday 4th October. This will include various day trips during our stay. Barnes Coaches will be supplying the transport. The hotel has 30 acres of gardens and is on the edge of Sherwood Forest.

The cost for dinner, bed and breakfast for 4 nights is £330 per person. Anyone over 50 who would like to join us will be made very welcome. Please contact Sheila 828545 for details and to book the holiday.

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South Marston School News – March 2012

The BBC were in school on 24th January filming the children in Victorian clothing. They all looked fantastic. The filming was for a TV programme to advertise the Alfred Williams musical which will take place in March at New College in Swindon. The children enjoyed playing Victorian playground games. Four of our children recited some of Alfred Williams’ poetry where he makes reference to South Marston Primary school. Thank you to all of the parents who provided costumes for the children and to Mrs New for doing her wonderful work on the girls’ pinafores.

On 30th January Diccon Dadey, the metal artist, came into school to install our wonderful metal sculpture. The children worked with Dadey a few months ago to design the sculpture. They had the task of thinking about what was important to them about the school. The sculpture has the school outline, a cross and children. The bands of metal surrounding the school have the values that we hold most dear. They are Trust, Truth, Compassion, Forgiveness, Love, Friendship and Thankfulness. We hope everyone will enjoy seeing the sculpture by our school entrance.

St. George and the dragon

Our school is having a big focus on Art this year and as part of this we had a whole school ‘Learn to Learn’ day based around George and the Dragon last term. We were visited by an artist and the children produced a variety of art work including a large scale tapestry of the famous painting, saltdough model dragons, stained glass pictures, watercolour paintings and even a giant collaged dragon. The art work can be seen in our main school corridor.

Big Bad Wolf

Our youngest children in preschool and class 1 really enjoyed their topic of ‘Fairytale Forest’ which ended in a woodland walk with the children, parents and grandparents round St Julian’s wood, where we found all sorts of fairytale clues. All involved really enjoyed exploring this jewel in our local area as well as discovering where the Big Bad Wolf was hiding!

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 tickets@alfredwilliams.org.uk or visit www.alfredwilliams.org.uk.

The full article is available here.

Lottery helps Hammermans Legacy

On Monday, Swindon Advertiser ran the following article, about South Marston Poet, Alfred Williams:

A Swindon-based society formed only six months ago is celebrating a Lottery windfall.

The Alfred Williams Heritage Society has been awarded a £35,000 grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which it will use to make more people aware of the South Marston-born writer, who died in 1930.

Chairman Dr John Cullimore, a consultant surgeon at the Great Western Hospital, founded the Society last September, along with Caroline Ockwell and Adver columnist Graham Carter.

“The three of us had never met before,” said John, “but we all find Alfred’s story an inspiration, and we decided to get together and spread the word to more local people.

“Despite a lifetime of poverty and having to write in his precious spare time, Alfred’s work was often reviewed in The Times and was known to three prime ministers.

“He wrote six books of poetry and some beautifully descriptive books about the area, including Life in a Railway Factory, which was about his experiences as a hammerman in Swindon’s GWR Works.

“He was one of us, and a true local hero, yet today he’s largely forgotten in Swindon.

“We want to show people that sometimes you don’t need to look as far afield as you might expect in order to find inspiration.”

John wrote and recorded a ‘rock opera’ CD based on Williams’s life in 2008, called The Hammerman, and this will form the basis for a musical presentation at the two-day Alfred Williams Festival on November 12-13, which will also involve other local history groups.

The grant will finance a part-time project co-ordinator for a full year, but there will be money left over to mount a permanent exhibit about Williams, which will go on display locally.

The Society will also use the grant to produce educational material and organise activities for local schoolchildren, and they plan to set up a link between schools in South Marston and northern India, where Williams served during the First World War.

They also have an ongoing project to make all of Williams’s works available online, including previously unpublished books.

Nerys Watts, the HLF’s Head of Region, said: “In addition to its literary merit, the work of Alfred Williams provides an important record of the social history of the Swindon area of the early 20th Century and of the labour movement in Great Britain.

“Through a range of original and exciting activities, this project will provide the opportunity for local people, including young people, to better understand and appreciate an inspiring figure from a key period in their past.

“We are delighted to be able to support this project and hope that it will encourage other people in the Swindon area to explore their heritage and to approach us for funding support and advice.”

The Society’s first event will be a Folksong Evening, which will take place at the King and Queen, Longcot, on Tuesday, April 20, reflecting another of Williams’s legacies – the lyrics to hundreds of English folk songs that he collected on his travels around the area.

“We have received tremendous support from people who already knew of Alfred and his achievements,” said John Cullimore, “including Mike Pringle of the Swindon Cultural Partnership, whose help has been invaluable.

“Now we can get the message across to everybody else in Swindon about the local hero they didn’t know they had.”

For more information about the Society, the Folksong Evening and the vacancy for a project co-ordinator, see www.alfredwilliams.org.uk.

Swindon Advertiser – Town poet in the spotlight

Swindon Advertiser published an article about one-time South Marston Resident, Alfred Williams.

In a town quick to celebrate a working class hero, Swindon lags behind in its recognition of writer Alfred Williams, an omission about to be addressed by the recently formed Alfred Williams Heritage Society.

Alfred was born in South Marston, one of Elias and Elizabeth Williams’s eight children. A carpenter employing one boy at the time of the 1881 census, Welsh born Elias deserted the family soon afterwards. Continue reading Swindon Advertiser – Town poet in the spotlight

The West Country: A Cultural History

A new book about the cultural heritage of the West Country has ranked two Swindon writers among the area’s finest.

Alfred Williams and Richard Jefferies have been singled out for lofty praise in The West Country: A Cultural History, by John Payne published by Signal Books (paperback, £12).

Separate sections on both Jefferies, who died in 1887, and Williams, who died in 1930, are included in the book, giving them the same prominence as major authors from the West Country, such as Thomas Hardy and Daphne du Maurier.

“So far, Swindon has chosen not to give due honour to these two great writers, which I find puzzling,” said John.

John reserves special praise for Life In A Railway Factory, the warts-and-all account of working conditions and attitudes that Alfred Williams published in 1915 after a quarter of a century of employment in Swindon Railway Works.

“It is one of the first and best accounts of the realities of industrial time and discipline,” said John.

“But Williams, who was born in South Marstonand lived his whole life there, also wrote about the surrounding area with great skill.”

The full version of this article is available from the Swindon Advertiser