This is our traditional Town Crier at work
on a special assignment.
Our local town, like so many in this period of economic downturn, has found store after store in its shopping areas closing down.
In an effort to improve things, the council is hoping to be able to apply for funding from the government's 'Portas' money. (For overseas bloggers, the name refers to a television programme presenter who has been asked for ideas on how to revive the country's high streets.)
On a busy (and sunny!) market day last week the town had a promotional day, which included a stall where shoppers were invited to sign a petition, and a Goody Bag was given to anyone who signed it.
I've read about Goody Bags given to celebrities at special events - designer watches, handbags, cameras, perfume ......... It's a sign of the times that the bags contained advertising leaflets from local stores and .... wait for it .... two ball-point pens!
Mind you, we could also take a gingerbread biscuit made by a local shop, gingerbread being a specialty made in the town for centuries. And it was delicious.
Our town has had a market since 1292, granted by Charter by Edward I of England, market days now being Thursday and Saturday.
Don Evans, the Town Crier, was on hand to shout out the news on Thursday, and an impressive figure he made. Historically the Town Crier was an important dignitary, and he announced the news and important civic information to local towns and villages.
Don has a civic role for the whole of West Lancashire, as well as for the town, and he's often called upon by charities to enhance their events.
Don told us he is a Queen's Town Crier, a guild of only 20 (if I remember rightly), and a very important honour. This is his special medal as a Queen's Town Crier.
The base of the clock tower is just visible in the background of this picture, and it stands on the site of the ancient market cross, where the crossroads led to Liverpool, Preston and Wigan. The clock tower replaced the market cross in the 19th century.
All in all an interesting day in a lively market atmosphere in our very friendly local town, and a bit of history (and 2 ball-point pens) as a bonus.