Home Estate Planning Square Mile and Me: Town crier Alan Myatt on his accidental career and messing up names

Square Mile and Me: Town crier Alan Myatt on his accidental career and messing up names

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Each week we ask a City figure to take a trip down memory lane. Today, Alan Myatt, City of London town crier – and world record holder for loudest crier – tells us about his unique role in the Square Mile.

What were you doing before you became a town crier?

I worked in construction as a ground worker and hod carrier. In the evenings I worked as a bouncer and kissogram.

How did you become a town crier?

I joined the local operatic society and was drafted into a local pageant which usually involved a mock mayor and yard of ale competition, but the council decided to go upmarket and replace the latter with a town crier competition. I was press ganged into entering to make the numbers up, the rest is history.

What does an average day in the life look like?

Every day is different. With ceremonial duties, there is preparation of proclamations and orders of precedence, ensuring those involved understand the protocols. On commercial activities, festivals and events you have to be familiar with the best places to proclaim as regards foot flow, leasing with organisers, marshalling stewards, holding the event together – so there’s a lot of planning in advance, as well as organising your own personal travel and accommodation, and ensuring your uniform is clean and lace spotless.

What’s the most surprising thing about your job?

Having spent 36 years as crier, people over the generations come to adopt you and share their good and sad news with you. It’s a unique position – you could never have a job description for this ancient office that covers so many aspects of involvement in the community. It becomes very personal and a way of life, you are the crier in and out of livery 24/7.

Town crying is a pretty unique job, is there a wider community of town criers you’re involved in?

There are two guilds of town criers, the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Criers and the Loyal Company of Town Criers, both of which were set up to foster good will and cooperation between criers who tend to be territorial. The guilds were established in the late 1980s. They also provide public liability in case of accidents whilst in the public domain.

What’s one thing you love about the City of London?

It is a big village once you get to know it. Anybody involved in proactive events to do with the history, heritage and the guilds are part of one big family.

And one thing you would change? 

More public convenances on the underground.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

Being an ambassador of good will and meeting and greeting people from the people from the four corners of the globe who visit Camden market or city events. They recognise my image straight away as I am plastered all over Heathrow airport. Welcoming people who want to have a chat and photo with me is something I consider a great privilege.

And your least favourite?

Members of the public who use me as a whipping post if they have had a bad time with the local council or government authorities. I respond with a few words: I hear where you are coming from. If that does not suffice, I’m stuffed.

What’s the most memorable event you’ve been involved in as a London town crier?

Startling the commuters at 7am on London Bridge promoting the grand opening of the Wolseley in the City. On another occasion greeting three coach loads of visitors from Hong Kong on the North Pier of Greenwich, who were there to board the Silver Sturgeon, the largest pleasure yacht on the River Thames. Having prepared a proclamation and welcome address, the composition of which took me a couple of hours, I was told to cut it to five words: Welcome AIA Hong Kong and Macau. I had the British Imperial Military Band behind me playing martial airs, as I continually proclaimed for 20 minutes. This could only have happened in Great Britain. 

And any town crying faux pas?

I acted as town crier for the Cardiff Castle management committee back in 1993 to welcome Frank Bruno and Lennox Lewis, who were having a fight at Cardiff Arms Park advertised as the Battle of Britain. The day prior I was at the venue for the weigh in which was broadcasted live on Sky TV. It was raining and the ink on my proclamation was running; I called Lennox Louis Leon – that booby went round the world. Sky news said Lennox Lewis wasn’t that well known in Wales as the town crier didn’t even know his name.

What’s been your proudest moment?

I have acted as toast master for the late Queen Elizabeth II at a Maundy Thursday Banquet, led the royal car through Market Town of Hitchin and had quality time talking to the Queen, who remembered me from previous gigs.

And who do you look up to?

Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronte 

We’re going for lunch, and you’re picking – where are we going?

The crusting pipe Covent Garden 

And if we’re grabbing a drink after work? 

The 3 locks micro brewer in Camden Hawley Wharf

Where’s home during the week?


And where might we find you at the weekend?

Camden Markets, or occasionally at the Grosvenor House or Dorchester on a corporate gig.

You’ve got a well-deserved two weeks off. Where are you going?

Italy, Rome and Venice for the scenery, history, food and vino.


Favourite book? Self Help author Samuel Smiles 

Favourite film? The Private Life of Henry VIII starring Charles Laughton 

Favourite artist/musician? W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arther Sullivan

Favourite place in London? His Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London

Cocktail order? Black Russian 

Coffee order? I prefer a mug of builder’s tea 

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