The festival takes place over two days - Friday, November 12 and Saturday, November 13, 2010 - and has four main events:

Friday daytime: Schools session
Friday evening: Premiere of The Hammerman in the presence of the Mayor of Swindon, Cllr Rex Barnett
Saturday daytime: Alfred Williams exhibition, including talks, and the Local History Fair
Saturday evening: Repeat performance of The Hammerman

The schools session on Friday afternoon is by invitation only, but all other events are open to all and have FREE ADMISSION.

The festival will take place in the Great Western Hall at STEAM, Swindon's railway museum, which is located close to the Swindon Designer Outlet.

Click here for information about finding and visiting the museum.

The centrepiece of the festival is The Hammerman, a brand new musical by John Cullimore (music) and John Moorhouse (script), which will be premiered on the evening of Friday, November 12, and repeated the following evening. Each performance will play to a capacity audience of 550. The schools session, which takes place on the afternoon of Friday, November 12, in front of an invited audience, is based on the musical.

The Hammerman stars Paul Bradley as Alfred, and will have a cast of 19, plus choruses and dancers, and an eight-piece orchestra. Director Linda Worth, musical director Andre Pysancyzn and song coach Rob Elliott, conductor of the Wessex Male Voice Choir, are working to ensure this community-inspired production has high professional standards.

Even so, thanks to a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, admission will be FREE (ticket information will be released soon).

The Hammerman is based on John Cullimore's CD of the same name, which traces the remarkable story of Alfred Williiams's life.

Although specifically conceived as a celebration of the life and works of Alfred Williams, the Alfred Williams Heritage Festival is also aimed at providing a focus for all other local history/heritage groups in the area.

The Society's exhibition (from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, November 13), will feature artefacts relating to the life of Alfred Williams, along with talks relating to his life (see below).

But a major part of the exhibition will be Swindon's first Local History Fair...

The Local History Fair will feature stands mounted by groups and individuals with an interest in the heritage of Swindon and the surrounding area. Organisations such as The Swindon Society, The Richard Jefferies Society and the Swindon Advertiser will mount displays, along with individuals such as Roger Trayhurn, who is researching the history of the Empire Theatre in Swindon.

The fair will also feature booksellers, authors, collectors and charities.

Local History Fair FAQ for exhibitors

Various talks will take place on the festival stage. Three of these are now confirmed:
12pm: Swindon's role in the First World War (by Mark Sutton)
1pm: The story of Alfred's life (by Paul Williams)
2pm: Alfred's folksong legacy (by Bob Berry of Wiltshire Folk Arts)
3pm: Readings of poems and passages By Alfred, by the Friends of Alfred Williams (Roy Burton, Kaye and Graham Franklin)

If you would like us to supply festival posters and information leaflets for display or distribution, please email us with details of how many you need, and your contact details.