John Cullimore's tribute to Alfred's life and works

The Hammerman is a CD based on the life of Alfred Williams, which was written and recorded by Dr John Cullimore (now the society's Chairman) in 2008 - and is now available for purchase online (see below).

When John swapped his scalpel for his guitar and began composing his latest album, he found himself tapping into the heartbeat of a man who has been dead for 80 years.

Alfred Williams had largely been forgotten in Swindon, and John decided that recording an album about Alfred's inspiring life would go some way to setting the record straight.

It turned out to be only the first step in a journey that took us all the way to The Hammerman musical, which was written with his playwright friend John Moorhouse, and premiered at Swindon's STEAM Museum during the Alfred Williams Heritage Festival in November 2010.

The musical was also performed at New College, Swindon, on three consecutive nights in March 2012, and work is currently ongoing in making the show available for other groups to perform, including local schools and colleges.

The idea for the musical - indeed the whole festival - arose from The Hammerman CD, which was recorded as a concept album in 2008 at Mooncalf, a studio fittingly situated on the rolling Wiltshire Downs at Draycot, just south of Swindon.

John, who is originally from Liverpool but has lived in Wanborough since 1992, came to the area to work as a consultant obstetrician/gynae surgeon, and is now based at Swindon's Great Western Hospital.

Ever since discovering the remarkable story of our local hero, he has become passionate about the life and work of 'The Hammerman Poet' being not merely interesting, but truly inspiring.

John was inspired enough to try to resurrect the memory of this almost forgotten Wiltshireman through the medium of song, and it was as a result of the album that he met fellow Alfred fans Caroline Ockwell and Graham Carter, and the idea of the Alfred Williams Heritage Society took shape - and hence the festival.

The original music has folk-rock and rock opera influences, with John specifically citing works such as Babbacombe Lee (Fairport Convention) and Tommy (Pete Townshend), while the lyrics are a blend of John's own words and Alfred's poetry.

The love song Leave Me Not Ever, for instance, includes lines from Alfred's poem of the same name, although the bulk of the song is actually from a second poem called Love Unfaithful.

For War Sonnet, John took lines from three of Alfred's war poems - Battle of the Rivers, Burying the Dead and The Departure, 1914 - and span them with his own words to create a haunting reflection on the horror of the First World War.

All but two of the songs on the album found their way into the stage show.

As John explains on the sleeve notes: "This musical diversion does not aim to assess the impact and achievements of this unusual Wiltshire character. Rather, it is a tribute to a man who found inspiration in the rural environment which still surrounds us, who derived satisfaction and pride from a hard day's work, and whose indomitable spirit and creativity in the face of adversity can be an inspiration to us all. He should not be forgotten, and through the medium of song I hope to help to keep his memory alive."

John hopes the lyrics of the songs inspire others to explore and discover Alfred's charming, easy-to-read poetry and his evocative works of prose, but The Hammerman CD now has another role to play in spreading inspiration in the name - and more importantly the spirit - of Alfred Williams, the self-taught local hero.

Profits from sales will help to establish an Alfred Williams Educational Bursary, which will assist a talented aspiring local scholar to achieve their full learning potential - and, maybe, even provide Swindon with another local hero in the process.

Track listing:

Prologue - The Hammerman
A Sad Day in 1930
I'll Lay Myself Down
Leave Me Not Ever
Mary Don't You See?
I'll Go Inside
In The Factory
Walked To The Factory Every Day
Nature's Quiet Sensitivity
White Horses
All Things Delight In Sleep
Liddington Hill
King and Country
War Sonnet
Back Home From India
Round About The Upper Thames
Farewell Letters
These Cathedral Hills

Alfred Williams Heritage Society
The Hammerman CD
Cost: 7 each plus 1 postage and packing
To order your copy of The Hammerman CD and pay online using PayPal, click on the button below:

We also have for sale the DVD of the live stage performance of The Hammerman at STEAM in November 2010.

More information about The Hammerman DVD

John Cullimore's website