Town criers shout to win

RICHARD BATSON The “big noises” of towns across Europe will be shouting in the streets of Cromer today and tomorrow The resort will resound to the bellows and bells of town criers as they battle for the title of European champion.

RICHARD BATSON

The “big noises” of towns across Europe will be shouting in the streets of Cromer today and tomorrow

The resort will resound to the bellows and bells of town criers as they battle for the title of European champion.

But it is not just about how loud they can shout, the 50 criers, including six women, will also be marked on their diction and inflection together with how well they are dressed.


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They have travelled from as far afield as Belgium, the Netherlands and all corners of Britain, to take part.

The competition includes the present and two former world champions and the present and four former European champions together with several national winners.

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Demonstrating his skills in Norwich yesterday , Guy Vandendriessche from Izegem, Belgium, said: “Being a crier is a calling, like a priest. For the competition we have to do three crys, the first one is about our own city. I am going to do mine in Flemish.”

Organiser Jason Bell, Cromer's crier, said visitors would be surprised at the variety of styles, uniforms and noise-makers used by the competitors.

As well as the traditional bells, some of the overseas criers used gongs, football rattles, drums and wood clappers.

Criers - a traditional role dating back centuries - were the earliest form of “newsreaders” announcing bulletins to assembled crowds, long before many people could read.

At the outbreak of the first world war there were still about 5,000 in Britain, but that has now dwindled to 500 - who are maintained for tourism purposes and to add some old fashioned pomp to local civic events.

The competition gets under way at the Evington Lawns Boating Lake on Cromer seafront from 10.30am on Saturday, following a 10am opening ceremony in the churchyard and parade.

There are further cries at 2.15pm on Saturday and 1.30pm on Sunday, ahead of a 4.30pm awards ceremony.

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