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How local folksong enthusiasts beat us to it by 40 years!
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When the Alfred Williams Heritage Society organised its two-day festival in November 2010, we liked to think we were breaking completely new ground - but we weren't.

In fact, the inaugural Alfred Williams Festival took place more than 40 years earlier.

A couple of the organisers, Ted and Ivy Poole, from Swindon Folksingers Club, still have some of the paperwork for the event, which was held at South Marston on September 11 and 12, 1969.

When Ted and Ivy performed at the society's 2011 Folk Evening in April 2011, they described Folk Songs of the Upper Thames as a 'folk enthusiasts' 'Bible'", so their festival kicked off on the Friday night with an evening concert of folk music performed by Dave and Toni Arthur, Bob Davenport, Scan Tester, The Rakes and the Marsden Rattlers.

The following day saw a village fete, also at South Marston, which included an exhibition of works by Alfred and performances by the morris dancing Bampton Men. They also appeared in the evening, along with The Rakes and the Marsden Rattlers, at a barn dance that rounded off the festival.

One event during the festival that was not advertised was the chance to see inside Ranikhet, which was open to visitors, and teas were served on the lawn - a mouth-watering prospect for current Alfred Williams enthusiasts, for whom a chance to go inside the house is an unlikely prospect in the foreseeable future.

With tickets for each event at six shillings and sixpence (32.5p) in advance, it is a reminder that decimalisation was then still two years away. And Swindon Folksingers Club had only been formed nine years earlier, so was quite young in comparison with today's still-thriving organisation which celebrated its golden jubilee in 2010.

The posters/flyers that publicised the event, which are pictured above, are also shown below, in more detail.

Among Ted and Ivy Poole's memorabilia, they also have a facsimile of a page of lyrics reproduced in The Wilts and Glos Standard in 1916, ahead of Folk Songs of the Upper Thames being published in book form. Click here for more details.

If you have any memories, photographs or any other information about the festival, we'd love to hear from you (email us here).