Alan Oliver, Ripon hornblower

Alan Oliver
Alan Oliver
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Alan Oliver, who has died at 63, was the ceremonial hornblower in the city of Ripon, maintaining a tradition dating back to at least 886AD.

A horn is sounded four times in Ripon’s Market Place every night at 9pm, and three times outside the mayor’s house, to “set the watch”.

The tradition can be traced to King Alfred, who visited what was then a small settlement while touring the country, and decided to grant it a Royal Charter. A horn was all he had to offer by way of a symbol.

On his advice, it was decided to sound it originally as a warning to the residents of impending attack, with a “wakeman” who would patrol the area while the others slept.

Mr Oliver assumed the role in 1983, assisted by his late father, Ron, who became his deputy. He held the role for 21 years, while also holding down a full-time job with the Post Office.

It was, his family pointed out, “not easy” to be standing out every night in all weathers, 365 days of the year.

A keen musician, he learned to play several instruments as a child, and became active in the Ripon City Band.

His love of rock music led him to open a shop selling second-hand records in city. When that closed, he continued the business online, and he was still actively selling vinyl until shortly before his death at his home in southern France, to where he had emigrated in 2005.

He is survived by his sister, Diane, and nephew, Philip.