Halifax's Town Crier

Les Cutts, Halifax's Town Crier 2001
Les Cutts, Halifax's Town Crier
Photo © Stephanie Marriott, Piece Hall, Halifax

Ben Cordingly was the last town crier, or bellman, and he retired in 1908 after 28 years of service. He died in 1916. His job was not a ceremonial one however - he cried announcements of forthcoming events, gave descriptions of lost property and even - according to one account - at least 300 appeals for help in finding lost children.

Les Cutts is the present town crier, following in the footsteps of Ben Cordingly and famous criers before him like Blind David and Nat Crier (real name Nathaniel Schofield).

Les designed his uniform - more usually called a livery - himself, basing it on old pictures of Ben Cordingly's outfit. Note that his scroll is wound around an old bobbin (see picture). Les writes his own "cries" and he will be seen in action at many traditional events in Halifax.

Look out for Les in his distinctive blue and red livery.

Les is aiming to shout down the competition

Les Cutts, Halifax's Town Crier 2002
Les Cutts, Halifax's Town Crier
Photo courtesy Halifax Courier

HALIFAX's very own town crier hopes he will be heard above his competitors when he takes part in the British town crying championships in June.

Mr Les Cutts, 42, who became town crier last year, will put his vocal capabilities on the line in Scotland when he takes on around 20 other criers from across the country.

Competitors will perform their home town cry for a panel of judges before being given a separate subject to belt out. Judges will award points based on clarity, mistakes made and volume.

"There are going to be a lot of people more experienced than me who have been doing this job for a long time," said Mr Cutts.

"But I am going to this competition to do my best and promote Halifax."

The competition will take place in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, from June 14 to 16, 2002. Other categories over the weekend include best dressed crier and best dressed crier and escort. The overall winner will be crowned British champion.

During the weekend, Mr Cutts will join the other criers in a civic procession and at a formal meal at the town hall.

6 February 2002

Piece Hall host to prestigious spectacle of town criers

Les Cutts, Halifax's Town Crier
Les Cutts, Halifax's Town Crier
Host of the British Championships 2003
Michael Wood, 2003 Winner
Michael Wood, 2003 Winner
Ring Bell, & Yell, Loud & Proud!

The Piece Hall, Halifax, in which the wool textile firm John Holdsworth & Co Ltd finds a number of its roots, played host to a prestigious spectacle of town criers, full of colour and pageant, and steeped in tradition. The building is particularly suited to this kind of event due to its individual accoustic characteristics.

Competitors representing Finland and Hollywood, California, were among the entrants in the Loyal Company Of Town Criers' British Championships, hosted by Halifax Town Crier Les Cutts, held in the Piece Hall, Halifax on Saturday 14th June 2003. Holdsworths were original tenants of several "rooms" in the Piece Hall, when it was opened in the year 1779.

Town criers performed their home cry during the morning competition, after which they joined the procession to Halifax Charity Gala at Manor Heath. The afternoon competition then allowed the criers to perform their special cry about a local notorious character, mostly deceased, but some still living!

On a magnificent summer's day, with an abundant attendance, the spectators were enthralled by the competitors performances, with some memorable and amusing anecdotes of the various local characters.

The winner was three times world champion Mr Michael Wood, Town Crier for the East Riding of Yorkshire - and Hollywood!

Michael got my vote!

David Holdsworth, 16 June 2003

© 2021 David W. Holdsworth  

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