Page last updated at 12:23 GMT, Saturday, 7 November 2009

Town crying out for a good voice

By Neil Prior
BBC News

Town crier (generic)
Town criers need a "loud voice" and "clear diction"

If you know all there is to know about the crying game, then the town of Cardigan needs you.

At a time when all you read about is job cuts, at least one new post will be created next week when Cardigan Chamber of Commerce holds auditions for the vacant post of town crier.

The bell was last rung by a crier back in 2000 in a one-off as part of the Ceredigion town's millennium celebrations.

However, mystery shrouds who exactly the last person was to hold the post on a permanent basis and when they hung up their tricorn hat.

I guess, like any talent contest, there'll be an element of X Factor to it
Councillor Mark Cole, Cardigan mayor

Paul Oakley, chairman of the chamber of commerce, said: "Sadly, all that's left from the historic Cardigan town crier is the bell, which we know to be at least 150 years old, and which could date back for many hundreds of years before that.

"What became of the original outfit and hat we can only guess at.

"Some legends have it that the roles of Cardigan and Newcastle Emlyn town criers were merged to save costs way back in the dim and distant past, so maybe the uniform is there somewhere, though no-one knows for sure."

The role of crier is being revived in time for Cardigan's third annual Victorian night Christmas celebrations on 8 December but, if they go down well, it is thought the successful applicant may be in demand next year, as the town celebrates its 900th anniversary.

A willingness to dress in official costume
Of good standing
Source: The Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Criers

Councillor Mark Cole, mayor of Cardigan, said: "It's something which I wholeheartedly endorse and I couldn't think of a better way of celebrating the 900th anniversary of the royal charter which created the town than by reviving the role of an official which is, in all likelihood, as old as Cardigan itself."

TV talent contest

The new crier will receive a retainer, besides earning around £10 per hour for official engagements.

Mr Oakley said the chamber of commerce was looking for a bilingual man or woman, with clear diction, stage presence and, of course, a loud voice.

"They've got to have the X factor I suppose," he said.

Mr Cole, who will also be judging the hopefuls at Cardigan Guild Hall next week, added: "I guess, like any talent contest, there'll be an element of X Factor to it, and it's probably a good thing to put the entrants under that sort of pressure.

"The last thing we want is a town crier with stage fright. Just so long as I can stay as Mark Cole rather than Cheryl!"

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