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ROBERT MARTIN - TOWN CRIER ON HORSEBACK


It was Ilfracombe's proud boast that Robert Martin was the only mounted Town Crier in the country. Originally from Crediton, Robert had worked on a farm just outside Ilfracombe before serving in the 17th Lancers. Over the years, he had various day jobs ranging from gardening to furniture-making but each evening in the holiday season, he would ride around the town past all the hotels and boarding houses, pausing to ring his bell and call out details of trips and attractions for the following day as well as announcing items of lost property and other notices.

But in September 1913, Robert was charged by the Ilfracombe police with being "drunk in charge of a horse on the highway". Both he, and his pony, were arrested in Market Square. Giving evidence in court, the constable described how Martin had "swayed in the saddle" and commented on the manner in which he was shouting out. His request that Martin should dismount was rudely refused but by this time, the sergeant was on the scene and together, the two policemen pulled him off the pony and took him home to his wife.

When the case came to court, Robert Martin chose to defend himself but failed to get the policemen to change their version of events. They explained that "towards the conclusion of his crying, his head gradually fell forward on to the horse's mane, and he mumbled something nobody could understand." Martin admitted this was true but said it was because the message he had been given to read was in pencil and he had found it difficult to read!

The magistrates fined Robert Martin £1 plus costs.

Robert Martin - Town Crierrobert Martin

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