Oxford Ramble

Speed the Plough



A Taste of Ale

Six for Gold

Knock at the Knocker, Ring at the Bell

The Robber Bird

Three Quarter Time

The 25th





Alfred Williams

Self-styled ‘Hammerman Poet’, Williams was a railway-worker, writer on rural life, and folk song collector. Born at South Marston near Swindon in 1877, he started part-time work on a farm at the age of eight, and three years later left school to work full-time. From 1892 to 1914 he worked in the Great Western Railway works at Swindon, but had to leave the factory because of ill-health, turning then to market gardening. During his time in the railway works he studied Latin, Greek and English Literature, and began to write - and have published - works of prose and poetry.

His interest in rural life included traditional songs, and he began to collect songs from singers in Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Gloucestershire. Unfortunately he did not have the musical skills to notate the tunes, so collected only the words. Songs collected by Alfred Williams were compiled in Folk Songs of the Upper Thames, first published in 1923.

Song texts from Williams' manuscripts are now online on the Wiltshire Community History Folk Arts website at http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/folk_search.php

For more on Alfred Williams see