Information courtesy of David Hinde, the current Town Crier for Bridlington, and historian David Mooney. For details of the Town Criers Competition and Parade of Criers happening in July this year as part of the Old Town Festival, please visit this page.
It is likely that Bridlington had a Town Crier from at least the establishment of the weekly market & fairs, Granted by King John in 1200. However the earliest record of a Town Crier in the Feoffees Manorial Records is in 1681 “Twopence for the Market Bellman”. As with most early records, many were destroyed during the English Civil War.
The first named crier in Feoffee records is ROBERT SMITH [ Lived 1746 – 1819 ] who was in the office of Bridlington Town Crier from 1799 – 1819.
George Richard ‘Dickie’ Fletcher
GEORGE RICHARD FLETCHER [ Lived 1748 – 1827 ] became crier in April 1819 to 1827, and known affectionately as ‘Dickie Fletcher’ he was a small man who walked with a funny gait and spoke broad Yorkshire and gave all his cries in rhyme: “fun on Norff sands a pair of keys, I hav em ear in me too ands. If thees be thy keys? tha kan ave em back if we agrees!!! Think on and daint forget!!!!”
Perhaps though the most intriguing find has been the discovery of a watercolour by Artist John Dempsey, of ‘Dickie Fletcher’ displayed at The Tasmanian Art Gallery and pictured on the right.
He was almost as famous for his marriage at the age of seventy-five to the widow of a former bellman, a woman some twelve years his senior. Not only was the ceremony particularly well-attended, but the Lord Feoffees provided the happy couple with a carriage and horses, ‘wedding-dinner’ and other Et Ceteras.
‘Dickie Fletcher’ died carrying out his job, in his seventy-ninth year. On 22nd September 1827, he called with a message at Mr Gray’s lodging house, tripped, fell down the steps to a downstairs kitchen, and broke his neck.
NICHOLSON THOMPSON was Town Crier 1827 – 1845.
From the 1850’s The Post Of Town Crier & Toll Collector had been combined.
WILLIAM SIMPSON WRIGHT, Town Crier & Toll Collector 1845 – 1858, listed in 1851 Trade Directories as living on High Street, in the Old Town.
William was superceded by JOHN MEEK BELL in 1858 as holder of the two posts. He rented a house, 67 High Street from the Lord Feoffees. His yearly rent was £6 and his salary £4 and for crying he had an allowance of a shilling.
In 1863 Craven Lyon Ironmonger supplied a new bell for the Crier costing 18 shillings and 3 old pence. This bell can be seen in the Bayle Museum.
John Meek Bell resigned in 1888 after thirty one years service, the longest serving Bridlington Crier recorded. No photograph appears to survive.
ANTHONY WAITE, Crier From 1888 – 1901. DIED 1923, AGED 83.
Anthony Waite is listed in the 1901 Census his final year as Town Crier, Aged 58, born in Heslerton, York and living at 4 Palace Avenue Bridlington. He was obviously a busy man listed as Bootmaker, Toll Collector, Town Crier, Bill Poster and also Caretaker Of Town Hall & Corn Exchange. Anthony Waite retired in 1901.