Wimborne town crier Chris Brown reunited with stolen bell

Town Crier reunited with stolen bellA Dorset town crier has been reunited with his handbell after it was stolen.

Chris Brown, Wimborne’s town crier, said the bell was in a bag which was taken while he was DJing in a pub earlier this month. The missing bag and bell, which has little financial value, were left anonymously, close to Mr Brown’s car, on Sunday. He said he was “very happy” after it appeared an amnesty had led to the culprit having a change of heart.

Mr Brown said: “I really never thought it would appear again but some friends were calling and found the missing bag and bell by the rear of my car. I promised an amnesty which appears to have enabled the prankster to relieve their conscience and am a very happy town crier.”

The 11ins (30cm) high military-issue handbell, which has an iron clapper, dates from World War I when it was used for gas attack warnings. The bell is used to accompany Mr Brown’s “cries” around the town and at national and international gatherings. He had notified local scrap and antique dealers to keep an eye out following the theft.

Read the article on the BBC Dorset website (published 25 June 2012)

Wimborne town crier’s handbell is stolen

Town Criers Bell is StolenA Dorset town crier is appealing for his handbell to be returned after it was stolen.

Chris Brown, Wimborne’s town crier, said the bell was in a bag which was taken while he was DJing in a pub. The 11 inch (30cm) high military-issue handbell, which has an iron clapper, dates from World War I when it was used for gas attack warnings.

Mr Brown said: “It’s extremely loud. I want to get it back, it’s been everywhere with me.”
The bell is used to accompany Mr Brown’s “cries” around the town and at national and international gatherings.

He added that local scrap and antique dealers had been notified but the bell had little financial worth.

Read the article on the BBC Dorset website (published 13 June 2012)

How many miles to the galleon in that?

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Town crier transforms his mobility scooter into a PIRATE SHIP!

A town crier was stunned when friends pimped his mobility scooter and turned it into a 17th century galleon.

Alex and John Compani borrowed Chris Brown’s wheeled machine for four days and transformed it into an old pirate ship as a surprise. Delighted with his new-look buggy, the 55-year-old town crier now ‘sails’ through Wimborne, Dorset, wearing his gown and ceremonial hat and shouting the news to onlookers. He has named his scooter, which has a top speed of seven knots (8mph), the Black Pig after Captain Pugwash’s ship.

Mr Brown said: ‘Alex and John asked to borrow my scooter for a couple of days and said they had a surprise for me. I knew they were up to something but had no idea what. I burst out with laughter when I saw it. It looks fantastic. The ship was meant to have just been for the childrens’ Christmas parade in Wimborne that I led but I have had such a good reaction to it that I have decided to keep it as it is.’

Mr Brown, a social worker, suffered polio when he was a child and has had a number of operations on his legs. He recently acquired the scooter and Alex and John commandeered it to transform it to cheer him up. The brothers built a wooden frame around the scooter to form the super-structure of the miniature boat. They nailed on boards of plywood to form the sides and stern and had to use cardboard to act as the curved bow. They then painted the structure dark brown to give the impression of weathered wood.

Alex, 36, said: ‘Because Chris often wears his ceremonial hat and coat and has a long beard, his appearance lended itself to a 17th century galleon. We thought it would be very fitting.

‘Chris has recently had an operation on his foot and got the scooter after that. We just wanted to cheer him up and thought this was the best way of doing it. We did it in secrecy in a workshop. We just told him we were going to dress it up but he had no idea what it was going to be.’

Chris and Alex belong to a re-enactmnent group called the Wimborne Militia that re-enacts the 1685 Monmouth Rebellion.
Chris, who is married to wife Anne and has four children, added: ‘We also have a commission from Wimborne Town Council to protect and defend the honour of the town.

‘We are one of only two private armies in the country. So if we were invaded I would help defend the River Stour. People absolutely love it – especially the children.’

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For Crying Out Loud – Daily Echo (Friday July 23rd 2004)

With the Polyphonic Spree at Glastonbury

Award winning Wimborne town crier Chris Brown is a familiar sight around the Dorset market town but now he’s something of a fixture on the pop festival circuit too.For Chris, 47, Dorset champion crier and ranked 13th in Europe, has been adopted by self-styled Texan psychedelic visionaries The Polyphonic Spree and so far this summer has appeared on stage in full regalia at Glastonbury, Leeds and Reading Chris, who is also Wimborne’s town “serjant” was signed up after being introduced to the colourfully be-robed Americans while doing volunteer work on the festival circuitThe Polyphonics and their charismatic leader Tim DeLaughter loved the idea of having their own real English town crier. Chris was introduced, they hit it off and the next thing he knew the lavishly bearded crier was strutting his stuff on stage at Glastonbury and hanging out in VIP enclosures with bands like Supergrass and Elbow. Reading and Leeds followed. For Chris it’s something of a dream come true.
With Tim de Laughter of `Polyphonic Spree
“It’s absolutely brilliant,” he told me. “They’re lovely people. I used to be a bit of a hippy and this is right up my street”. He admits that back in the 1970s he also had a hankering to be a serious biker. His North Dominator 650 SS was the envy of the local motorcycle gangs. “They loved looking at my bike but I used to wear crushed velvet jackets and I don’t think they could really deal with that. Anyway I could never have been a Hells Angel or whatever. I hate aggression and I’m vegetarian so biting the head off a live chicken would be quite out of the question.”

Chris, who has done voluntary security work at Glastonbury for a number of years has the dubious distinction of once trying to ban Bob Dylan from his own dressing room. “I was told that no one but Dylan was allowed in so when this strange looking bloke turned up and knocked on the door I told him to go away. He fixed me with this really weird stare and just said ‘You don’t know who I am do you?’ “I said:’ I haven’t got a clue mate, but no one but Bob Dylan comes in here.’ Then he just stared at me again and I noticed that he had this, like eight-foot security man with him. I thought: ‘Oh yeah, I know who you are?'”

Chris, who was recently made redundant from his job as a complaints officer with The Chilren’s Society, has also recorded an introduction for a new CD with the band Timespanners and next month will appear at a gig in Sixpenny Handley with long-time Dorset music scene favourites Pronghorn.

Although he says his foray on the festival circuit has earned him virtually nothing he hopes that his future career may now lie in the music business.

Jeremy Miles – Daily Echo (Friday July 23rd 2004)