It's rarely seen, but it is surely the most poignant photograph of Alfred Williams.
The portrait, apparently posed in the studio of Swindon photographers Viner & Shilk, is owned by Bob Townsend of The Swindon Society and this copy was kindly provided by Paul Williams, the Society's Chairman.
Taken when Alfred was still a young man - apparently in his early twenties - it is a puzzle because he is not wearing his best clothes. This may mean it was a kind of 'publicity shot', designed to show the 'hammerman poet' in appropriate wear.
But not only was it unusual for subjects in this era to be photographed not wearing their 'Sunday best', but Alfred was known to be an especially proud man who was particular about his appearance, and surely would have felt underdressed.
Close examination of the picture (see the enlargements, below) even reveals traces of grime on his shirt, apparently from working, which has clearly seen better days. It's possible that these were Alfred's best clothes at the time and that he could not afford better, although this does seem unlikely.
Alfred probably took some persuading to be pictured in this way, but it's fortunate, for us, that he did. More than any other, this photograph comes closest to revealing the true Alfred Williams - and probably closer than he would have been comfortable with.
See a larger version of the portrait
Photograph reproduced courtesy of Bob Townsend and Paul Williams