Somerton Town Criers

From The Story of Somerton, produced by the W.I. in 1953:


Some of the best known characters in Somerton, before the First World War, were the Town Criers, Sammy Pester, “Cuckoo” Martin, and William Sibley, who held office in turn. Mr. Pippard of Sutton Road, was the last of the tradition. Mr. Sibley was also the “pound man” and used to shut up straying animals, in the pound, which was behind the house in the Triangle, now known as Pound Villa, on payment of a small fine they would be released to the owner. In addition Mr. Sibley was the local bill poster. They (the Town Criers) did not wear uniform, but were provided with a bell, and on payment of a small fee would go round the Town calling out. They were also employed to raise the alarm, in the case of fire, and in the old days, call up the volunteers to man the old manual pump, which was kept at the Town Hall in the old lock up. Sometimes if the fire was at night, there would be much commotion. First the anguished Summons to the Town Crier, then his frenzied shouts and wildly ringing bell, the noise of the volunteers running to get out the engine, and the efforts of the helpers with buckets to pump the water which had to be poured into the engine.