We need to talk about the scourge of town criers in local newspapers


After Brexit, the only way you will be able to get news will be through the medium of an old man with a bell, so you’d better get used to it.

It’s an opportunity being grasped tightly by the gnarled old hands of the town crier community, who – it has to be said – are largely keen advocates of the project to leave the European Union.

The statistics do not lie, as this Venn Diagram showing the overlap of town criers and people who are a bit Brexit shows:

Indeed, since the historic low in town criers – many were lost in a spate of self-immolations in 1983 as protests against the introduction of the pound coin got out of hand – the bearded, shouty old man movement has struggled to find relevance in the world.

But now the chance to be a little bit Brexit has emerged, and they have now returned in numbers, rolling into town in their Rover 75 and shouting loudly for a small crowd that usually comprises a bored local newspaper photographer and a man dressed up as an oversized cigarette.

Bournemouth Echo: Town crier shouts something about smoking GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

There’s something disturbing about a man of a certain age dressed up in ermine robes, clutching a bell, mugging for the cameras. Especially when they get the sack.

Craven Herald“Hear ye! Hear ye! Town crier gets the sack!”

“I will not be silenced,” he vows. I bet there’s a fair few people in his local who know that already.

And I bet there’s a fair few people who can guess where the bell’s going.

[Correct answer: The town museum]

And here’s the same guy again, getting the cold shoulder by his own kind:

Craven HeraldSacked town crier loses his town criering licence

“Members found that Skipton Town Council had revoked consent for Mr Griffiths to act as town crier, the reason being that the council had been in receipt of numerous complaints over a lengthy period of time relating to his activities.”

Mr Griffiths said he was unhappy with the decisions of both the town council and the guild and had sought legal advice.

What you should do, mate, is stand in the middle of town and shout about it, very loudly. GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.

In Town Crier World, everybody wears a chain of office, and thus this shall be in the post European Union Wonderland that await.

Bridport View News: Man shouts louder than some other men, wins a plate from bloke in a bad tie and a chain of office GODD SAVE THE QUEEN

In Town Crier World, if you haven’t got a frilly shirt, a pointy hat or a chain of office, you are NOBODY.

If I haven’t managed to put you off yet, there appears to be a vacancy:

Devon Live: Ilfracombe advertises for town crier’s assistant, must have own bell and ridiculous wardrobe of clothes GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

“The ideal candidate would have to be someone who is outgoing, who has Ilfracombe in their blood – the passion needs to be there, somebody who can put their heart and soul into it and bring an identity to the town.”

Also, try not to be too weird.

BBC Dorset: Naked town crier 

Luckily, no photos exist.

But still, there are pockets of resistance against the Town Crier Revival.

Shropshire Star: Town shelves plans for ‘too expensive’ town crier GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

Sorry, mate. It was either a new set of ermine robes and a feathery hat, or a library.

Perhaps you could try regular email updates, a website or one of these new-fangled web apps? I hear they’re quite popular.


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