A new event for Whitehaven was a town crier competition which took place at the hub on the harbourside.
A continental market had also been brought to Whitehaven for four days which added a splash of colour to the harbourside around the hub where the market criers were to perform.
The event started with the criers assembling at St. Nicholas church and then marching along Lowther Street. The procession was lead by a piper who was followed by Keith Hitchen, the Mayor of Copeland, and his wife along with Rob Romano the Whitehaven town crier.
The criers then marched down King Street to the surprise of the early morning shoppers and through the Whitehaven market place towards the harbour.
When the town criers reached the harbour they started the competition under cover of the hub amongst the stalls of the continental market.
The first task of the criers after bowing to the judges was the ringing of the handbell to alert the townsfolk the news was about to be announced. The jolly character above right is John Renwick-Stevens the Town Crier of Alnwick who did a very amusing advert for his town in the first stage of the competition.
John Robinson, the Biddulph Town crier had arrived with his own transport, using a mobility vehicle after a recent leg operation, which led to the light-hearted chanting of the thunderbirds theme as he left the stage.
After the ringing of the bell and the traditional shout of "Oyez, Oyez,Oyez" the proclamations were read. Each crier read from a pre-written script which was judged for accuracy, loudness and clarity by a panel of judges which included Colin Edgar, the editor of the Whitehaven News, Gordon Thomson from the Harbour Commission, Keith Hitchen the Mayor and David Allan the former Harbourmaster.
Liz Woolnough from Barnoldswick in Lancashire was just one of four female town criers in the competition. Although there was no standard costume they were all very colourful but a 17th century tricorne hat with feathers and a caped, heavily braided, frock coat were common to many.
Each of the contestants was introduced by Rob Romano the Town Crier for Whitehaven who being a comparative novice didn't take part in the competition but did make a wonderful compare with an explanation of the history and subtle humour. Many of the town criers also had a partner that accompanied them in full costume as demonstrated above by the crier from Barrow and Dalton in Furness, Alan Brown and his attendant.
Of course their is no P.A. system for the town crier and therefore getting the message across depends on the capacity of the lungs and the strength of the vocal chords - Brenda Willison from Market Deeping in Lincolnshire had the voice of a foghorn.
Involving your audience help gets the message across as shown by Anthony Church the Banbury town crier and all proclamations have to end with a rousing God Save the Queen accompanied by a raising of the hat as demonstrated by Carole Williams from Bishop's Stortford.
A present for the town
back to events page
Return to Home page