A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode
by Richard Barton (2016)
Back in 1976 I was eighteen years old and I lived in Fewster Road, Nailsworth. At the time I was passionate about local history and town affairs. Through my childhood history of St George’s Church I had become involved with Daphne Bruton, Betty Mills and many other people who seemed then to get things done in our town. During that year it was decided to hold a Carnival so that funds could be raised to level Nailsworth’s Playing Field. I became involved with the planning committee and I used this opportunity to forward one of my little ideas.
Being a sixth former at Marling I would often walk into Stroud after school and one of my favourite haunts was the old Museum in Lansdown. Lionel Walrond, the curator, was something of a hero figure for me and I would enjoy questioning him about architecture, the woollen industry and much more. It was my plan to write a history of Nailsworth and I still have a mock up for this book that never was to be. Sitting on a shelf in the far room of the museum was an old cracked hand bell – the bell of the Nailsworth Town Crier. There was a simple hand written label which described it as being the bell of William Teakle and a date was given of 1852. It was this bell that inspired me to revive the office of the Nailsworth Town Crier.
My plan was shared with other members of the Carnival Committee and, as a result of their agreement, I made contact with George Carpenter, the Town Crier of Wotton-under-Edge. He was most helpful and together we drew up rules for the competition. I still have a copy of the original entry form which is re-produced below.
Mr . Tony Wakefield agreed to promote the office by dressing up and doing some cries around the town during the days leading up to the Carnival and for the Carnival procession itself.
In the event the competition was a tremendous success and rather over shadowed other press coverage of the Carnival itself. As we know Victor May won the competition and he served as Town Crier until 1993 when Tony Evans took over his role. After all the excitement of Saturday 11th September 1976 I remember returning the original cracked bell to its shelf in Stroud Museum and reuniting it with its faded label.
Amongst my little collection of press cuttings. I notice that I have added a note to one article – ‘Eddie Bathe, 1912’ – the name of another town crier. I think he may have been the father of Lionel Bathe, an old Nailsworthian who has now long gone.
The 1992 ‘Nailsworth Centenary Programme with Historical Notes’ included a paragraph about the revival of the Town Crier and, again in 2013, a further article was published in Nailsworth Town News. Sadly, my schoolboy’s dream has been forgotten and, instead, the revival of the office of Town Crier has been linked, incorrectly, with the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Her celebrations did not take place until the following year and by that time I had left Nailsworth and was away at university in London.
George Carpenter and Vic May at another Town Crier Competition