Steve announces hope for town crier revival

Steve Vernon, Sidmouths Town Crier for a day. Ref shs 8356-47-14TI Picture: Terry Ife

Steve Vernon, Sidmouths Town Crier for a day. Ref shs 8356-47-14TI Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

‘Oyez, oyez’ – an actor who filled the shoes of Sidmouth’s town crier for the first time in 70 years could say ‘oh yes’ if the role is revived.

Charles Mortimore, Sidmouth's last town crier

Charles Mortimore, Sidmouth's last town crier - Credit: Archant

Steve Vernon was chosen for his big voice to announce that Father Christmas had arrived at the Children’s Society’s Christmas fair on Saturday.

The Sidmouth Amateur Dramatic Society actor prepared by looking at town criers past, and said he would ‘definitely consider’ it if the role became permanent.

“They know me for my big voice and because I’m used to dressing up,” said Steve.

“A couple of people have asked me since if I’d be staying on – I’ve not been asked but I’d definitely consider it if I was. It was good fun.

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“I was trying to round as many people up as possible – it seemed very successful.”

His costume was rented from Bath and he said it fitted him well, but he would need one of his own if the role continued.

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According to Reginald Lane’s Old Sidmouth, the first recorded town crier was Thomas Paul in 1886, chosen because he had a ‘good, sound voice and was able to read well’.

Then there was a Mr Newton, before Sidmothian Theophilus Carslake Mortimore – a man of fine figure, with dark eyes, hair and side whiskers – started making announcements.

His strong voice rang out ‘Oyez, oyez’, and when he was presented with a uniform of gold-braided hat, scarlet coat and velvet knee breeches, he caused much interest to visitors.

He was succeeded by his son Charles, who was to be Sidmouth’s last town crier. He died in 1943.

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