A new society to appreciate and promote the life and work of Swindon’s railway poet Alfred Williams is officially launched at the Central Library on Tuesday 8 December, 7pm.
Williams who lived between 1877 and 1930, worked as a steam hammer operator at Swindon Railway Works. Despite his humble beginnings, he was widely recognised in his day as a talented writer and a notable literary scholar, who became nationally appreciated and known as the ‘Hammerman Poet.’
His book Life in a Railway Factory portrayed the harsh working conditions inside the GWR works and remains a vivid contemporary account of factory life in early 20th Century Swindon.
The rural surroundings close to the town centre at the time inspired him to write poetry and prose about his native countryside and its folklore.
Dr John Cullimore, chair of the Alfred Williams Heritage Society, said, “despite his historical importance, Alfred Williams is largely unknown to the vast majority of Swindonians of the present day, and there are few contemporary references to his achievement. However, we believe his inspirational life and work justify a major effort to promote awareness of this compelling character, and we firmly believe there would be a positive effect on preserving heritage and augmenting the cultural heritage of the town.”
Williams developed a love for India where he served in World War I and taught himself Sanskrit so he could learn more about its culture, religions and literature. Dr Cullimore believes he represents a unifying focus for the town’s different ethnic groups and religions and a figure to promote the town’s heritage.
Read some of Alfred Williams’ work and for an invitation to attend at: www.alfredwilliams.org.uk