Oyez! Oyez! David Dipple: Barrow’s Village Crier .
The sight of David Dipple, magnificent in fur-trimmed tricorn hat, lace at neck and cuffs, long red coat, black breeches, white socks and silver buckled shoes brings a smile to many a face in these strange lockdown days. He’s almost as busy as any of his medieval predecessors! He’s crying Oyez Oyez and ringing his brass bell to thank the NHS on Thursday evenings at 8pm, key workers in High Street shops on Wednesday lunchtimes and helping to bring a surprise moment of happiness to someone on their birthday. It certainly cheers up the day immensely if, on your birthday, you have to spend it in isolation. And then there are the occasional calls to broadcast from a radio or TV studio. Normally David donned the uniform only for Barrow events such as the Summer Street Market and its Winter equivalent or a village celebration such as the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. But now, knowing that his appearance raises people’s spirits, he responds to a wide range of requests. Over the last seven weeks of lockdown this has meant he’s donned his breeches twice or three times a week.
But how did Barrow’s village crier get such a splendid costume? There was an earlier version worn by the then village crier Bob Mee, but it began to look dowdy, and Tilly Yates volunteered to make this splendid one which has been kept in excellent condition, and added gold braid, by Ceri Fairbrother. It was first worn in 2008 and seen on stage at the Christmas Market. By 2010 David Dipple had been asked to be crier as he had all the necessary qualifications for playing the part: a loud voice, an air of authority and a cheerful willingness to do it. Now everyone is literate, but in the past, when few could, the crier’s ability to read was crucial as he was passing on important government news to the others in the village who couldn’t. He, it was always a he, was also paid a few pence a cry. No, the Parish Council don’t fork out the pence any more.
Do you have to be Barrow born and bred to do the job? No, you don’t. David was born in Nuneaton and only came to Barrow with his wife and family after the birth of their second child. For ten years he taught fulltime at Hall Orchard Primary School and then, in a part-time capacity, for a further twenty whilst also pursuing other interests he enjoyed apart from teaching. When asked if he had a successor in mind David affected Shock! Horror! “I can do it for another twenty years, “he said. I’m sure we all hope he does.