About Me

Born Aberystwyth. Student London and Wells;in Birmingham U chaplain, theatre critic, arts administrator, as a poet pt posts at Warwick (Writing Programme) and Birmingham U (Lifelong Learning) U; residencies at poetry festivals, in psychiatric and general hospitals and at Worcester Cathedral; Birmingham Poet Laureate 1997-98, has won 1st and 2nd in National Poetry Comp.. My Running out, Five Seasons Press is a collecting together of work since Setting the poem to words (1998) and Crag Inspector (2002). My ancestry is in London, mainly the East End (and South Essex), where people I can trace came from across the country in the late 18th to mid-19thC. Names include on my father's side: Hart, Restell, Lewis, Yelverton, Copeland, Wrenn,. And on my mother's side: Cole, Brown, Stanley, Pond, Bradley. I am an elected Member of the Welsh Academy. Titanic Cafe poem booklet 2009 and Misky (Flarestack). 2012-13 Library of Birmingham Poet. Library Inspector or The One Book Library (Nine Arches, 2015). Currently working on poems.Email djhart11(at)mac.com.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

I am working on a series of poems of early memories; here is one of them, thinking of having moved as a family, when I was 15, from Aberystwyth to Chelmsford, Essex:

When I acquired my




a book

for cycling, I lived (I wrote in pencil)

at 28 Heol Nanteos



and the only scribble in it (in pencil),

living then (in pencil) in

Chelmsford, Essex


Just after turning off for Braintree (5.30)

'Owen Glendower' pulling its train came by.

Saturday, 30 June 2007



How to understand one’s inherited voice? For most of my life I have had no clear sense of my own, when and why it settled into what it is now, what part of my ancestry gave it to me. As a child I saw my grandparents only occasionally, and I have only a hazy recollection of how they spoke. When I was a teenager I turned up, from mid-Wales, at my paternal grandparents’ house in Mile End and my grandfather opened the door and said, ‘It’s David, ain’t it?’ in a gravelly sort of Cockney. But growing up in Aberystwyth I don’t recall my father had that voice; perhaps over the years there it softened. My parents went there in their early 20s. I do recall my father not liking my picking up a Welsh accent, so probably I lived a double life of talking one way at home and another with friends. My father’s sister has a Mile End voice I like very much, and I feel I can hear ancestry through her.
I wish I could recall the voices of my mother’s parents and her grandmother, in Leyton. My mother had what I would say now was a neutral kind of voice; her mother had a bit of a rasp (character rather than origin?), her father something softer, but I’m not sure now. He came from the Essex-Suffolk border, was a merchant seaman, then a bus driver. I wonder how they met.
What is it happens to voices? Did university in London change my own? I was the first that I know of, in those recent generations, to go to Grammar School and University.
Of my ancestry never known to me personally, Copelands from Hertfordshire (and originally from Scotland?), Restells probably from Gloucestershire and the Welsh border, Lewis of course possibly Welsh but maybe not, part-Irish in the Harts, farming families from (Stanleys) Staffs/Derbys and (Ponds) Essex. Yelvertons – William a London goldsmith -Browns, and others. How did their voices change through the generations and mixes?
So in the making of poems what voice? What has come through - through generations and through my own life - that has made my poems? Voice and attitude, craft and whim.

Monday, 25 June 2007


This is how it was
[For Fred Davies]

This is how it was, I said, a long time ago
when I lived in Heol Nanteos in Penparcau next door
to the man who played outside left for Aberystwyth Town,
and Fred had the name then on the tip of his brain
and soon came up with ‘Teddy Thomas',
and I said, ‘There was a tall dark centre forward’,
and Fred said, ‘Eddie Ellis’, and started to name then
the whole team: Teddy Bevan, Stuart Griffiths,
Gareth Hopkins, Jackie Johnson,….

I said I sang in the St Michael’s church choir
and Fred said he did, too – about four or five years
before me – W.R.Allen the choirmaster ‘was strict,’ but I said
I remembered him as benign.
‘Remember Ernie Morgan, the Wintle brothers,
Michael Lewis - big in music in America now, he is’,
and when the name clicked into place I said,
‘I was an altar server with him at St Anne’s, Penparcau’.
‘Remember we got paid 6d for funerals and weddings?
And we had to take our surplice home to be washed.'

I’d not remembered the names of the boats:
Pride of the Midlands (owned by Ben White),
City of Birmingham (‘Spanny’) –
and me now most of my life in that city –

and I said I carried the Scout flag
in the Remembrance Day procession, Fred said he played
in the British Legion band, and so did
Will Nell in the Workhouse (where Bronglais now is,
and a part of the old building still used),
‘and do you remember Happy Agnes with her shopping trolley?’

I didn’t, but when we got on to Ardwyn School
a mixed bag of memories: Mr Ellis the Headmaster –
two Mr Ellises one after the other? - Roy James, Mr Beynon,
Mrs – or was it Miss? – Mainwairing,….
Oh some of that still hurts.

I said I remember playing marbles in the gutter with Dai Young,
and in the yard of his father’s garage – ‘Gwalia’, said Fred,

'below the Infirmary,' I said (where my father worked),
and in between where I went to junior school, North Road,
all three gone now: Hospital, School, Garage,
and not a gutter these days you could play marbles in.

Chapels are closing, too. One, Fred tells me, is a pub,
but the singing continues. Fred sings and with the local choir
has sung in Toronto, Stratford (Ontario),
Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Brittany, Cologne,….

This is a poem you, reader, perhaps, can continue,
the poem me and Fred began, with a chance meeting.

[David Hart: from Running Out (Five Seasons Press 2006]

How did they meet?

I suppose we can only very rarely know how and why and where they met back then. There was Sarah Pond, aged 25, ‘servant’, whose father William was an Essex farmer, and there was Joseph Stanley, 25, ‘carriage fitter E.C.R.’, whose father was Edward, also a farmer, from the borders of Staffordshire and Derbyshire. Sarah and Joseph married at St Leonard’s Shoreditch, on August 24th 1854. Both gave their residence as 5, Edward Street – an address of convenience for one or both? I think Edward Stanley farmed land in Tutbury and/or Scropton, and William Pond in Upminster. I have some census references for them and also what seems an odd one – and one that contributes to wondering how Joseph and Sarah (b.Upminster, Essex) met – that she was in 1851 a servant aged 22 in a Harrison family household in Maidstone, Kent. As to the Stanleys, had there been a connection to the Stanleys, Earls of Derby?

Joseph and Sarah’s daughter, Florence Lilla (or Lilian) Stanley, b.1873 in Hackney, by which time Joseph was a ‘house painter’, married (in the Register Office at West Ham, 1894) George Keen Brown, a railway worker who later became a maker of piano keys. Their daughter, Annie Edith Brown, married George Cole (from Tendring on the Suffolk/Essex border, merchant seaman and when I knew him a London bus driver). Their daughter, Doris Lilian Cole, was my mother; born in Leyton.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Henry Lewis silk weaver

In 1835 Henry Lewis married Mary Ann Yelverton at St Leonard's, Shoreditch (one of the witnesses was Edward Buckingham, a policeman) and, registering the birth of their son William Henry Lewis in 1838, Henry is shown as a silk weaver, living at Union Buildings, Kingsland Rd, Shoreditch.

As to Henry's birth, perhaps 1808, Shoreditch, parents William and Elizabeth. From where before then I don't know. There was a thought in the more recent family of Welsh heritage, but I can't find that and perhaps it was simply the name 'Lewis' suggested it. I was told in my hazy past of a man who had 'walked from Wales to London' - so maybe.

Mary Ann Yelverton had been born 1815 in London, her parents Edward and Martha Yelverton, Edward's father having been William, a goldsmith in Great Portand St, married to Lydia - who is a mystery. And the previous Yelvertons may have been those in Northamptonshire or in Norfolfk or maybe Ireland, I don't know.

Silk weaving was falling on hard times and Henry Lewis, his son William following on, became a tin plate worker. William married Sarah Clark and their daughter, Mary Ann Lewis, tailoress, married Henry Charles Restell, labourer (his father Henry a wheelwright) in 1888 at Trinity Church, Stepney, and lived in Alma Rd. Their daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Restell, was my grandmother, married to Alfred Chappell Hart, in Mile End.

The Restells had moved east perhaps from Holborn, and before then perhaps from where there were many Restells, in Gloucestershire & the Welsh border. Perhaps here was the gift of Welsh.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Sarah Ann Hart in Eastcheap 1851

Sarah Ann Hart's husband, John William Hart, is a mystery to me. He is missing from any census with her. His only appearance known to me is in his son William's marriage (to Mary Ann Copeland) certificate, 1858 in Stepney - and he may not even have been present - as an eating house keeper. There seems as with other branches of my ancestry to have been a movement from central London & the City, eastwards.

Sarah Ann & I suppose William John had a daughter, also Sarah Ann, and two sons, William and Henry. Sarah was nee Thomas, her widowed mother Sarah Thomas, said to have been born in Armagh, Ireland, was with her and the children in 1841 at Talbot Court, St Benet Gracechurch.

The Copelands: Mary Ann was daughter of Robert, a carman, born Stepney, and Susan (nee Wrenn) born Hoddesdon, Herts. Robert's parents were Robert, also a carman, born Shoreditch, and Emma, nee Webb, born Hyde, Wilts. In 1851 they were all living at 11, High Street, Whitechapel, and in 1861 some of them at 30, Anglesea St, Bethnal Green. The shift then was to Alfred St (later named Shandy St) in Mile End, where William Hart was a fellowship porter and Mary Ann was a collar maker.

My grandfather, Alfred Chappell Hart, b.1887, is something of a mystery. Although his b.certificate shows his parents as Alfred Hart and Alice Harriet Hart nee Copeland, that second mix of Hart and Copeland looks strange and that middle name 'Chappell' has no precedent within what I know of his ancestry. In no census does he appear with his parents (nor can they be found together), and seems from the records to have been brought up by his grandmother. He was a cork sorter, married to Sarah Elizabeth Restell, a tailor, nee Lewis, and when I - as a child - knew them they lived in Coutts Rd near the Regents Canal, those streets between the canal and Burdett Rd now demolished & become Mile End Park.