Sunday 04 March 2012



A MAJOR musical event celebrating the life and work of Swindon writer Alfred Williams is being premiered at the town’s Steam railway museum.

The poet and author was born in South Marston in 1877 has had a piece of music written especially about him by one of the country’s top folk musicians.

The performance, at Steam on March 4, will feature more than 100 young musicians from the Wiltshire-based Superstrings, plus a performance by the award-winning 11-piece folk band Bellowhead.

Bellowhead’s drummer, Pete Flood, wrote the music after being approached last year by Superstrings, a charity which offers tuition and courses for young string musicians in Wiltshire.

Pete said: “The piece is about the incredible breadth of Alfred Williams’ achievement. The man was completely self-educated and his life was essentially one long struggle.

“His is an inspirational story.”

As a young man Williams went to work Great Western Railway works in Swindon, and it was because he worked in the stamping shop that he became known as the Hammerman Poet, as he churned out volumes of verse.

It was his 1923 book, Folk Songs Of The Upper Thames – containing hundreds of folk song lyrics – that Pete found especially inspiring.

“It’s just a book of words, which for a composer is great,” he said. “It’s a blank slate.”

The Superstrings performance of Pete’s composition will make up the first half of the show at Steam and will also feature violinist Miranda Rutter, concertina virtuoso Robert Harbron, harpist Steph West and Pete and fellow Bellowhead members Ed Neuhauser and Paul Sartin.

Bellowhead themselves will take to the stage for the second half of the show.

Doors open at 6pm and tickets, at £20 each, are available from


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