It’s not often that you come across an individual who has a passion for a craft that has its origins in Roman times, practices that craft and is a National Champion.
One of our residents, Bob Townshend or better known as Bob the Bellman of Renown or the Town Crier- Southern Downs, is one of them. As the Town Crier for the Southern Downs, Bob has a fascinating role representing our region wherever he goes.
Now mostly a ceremonial role, the Town Crier was once one of the most sought after individuals in the community. Often the only person who could read and write, the Town crier would be called upon to write letters, read letters, and when there was news to be shared, the words ‘Oyez, Oyez’ would ring out and with the ringing of the bell, the villagers would gather to hear the news. To do so required a big voice, and reading from a scroll, the crier would share the news to the village.
In the 7 years since taking on the role of Town crier here on the Southern Downs, Bob has consistently placed in the top 3 of Senior Crier, Loudest Cry, and Best Cry at the National Championships of the Ancient & Honourable Guild of Australian Criers. In 2015, he travelled to New Zealand and place 13th in the World Championships. In 2016, Bob won the Senior Crier section for the first time.
When you get the chance to meet Bob, he will be only too happy to chat about the traditions of Town Crying, and some of the sayings that we use today that have their origins in Town crying. He is easy to find in his 18th century costume of green and gold, feathered hat, and carrying a scroll.
Bob enjoys his role as an ambassador for the Southern Downs, and while he has some serious civic duties, mostly it’s a fun role for him; being involved with our festivals, – leading parades, opening shows, visiting schools, and being involved with people enjoying themselves.
During the Snowflakes in Stanthorpe festival next weekend, (3oth-1st-2nd), Bob will be found in Maryland St and the parade on Friday, wandering the Snowgrounds during the weekend and performing some cries over the 3 days. So, make sure you say g’day, and have a chat.
Featured Image: Bob the Bellman of Renown leading the 50th Apple and Grape Harvest Festival Parade 2016