A much-loved Ripon tradition could soon be revived

The tradition of Ripon hornblowers giving out lucky wooden pennies to visitors at the nightly setting of the watch ceremony could soon be revived.
The tradition of Ripon hornblowers giving out lucky wooden pennies to visitors at the nightly setting of the watch ceremony could soon be revived.

The tradition of Ripon hornblowers giving out lucky wooden pennies to visitors at the nightly setting of the watch ceremony could soon be revived.

At a full Ripon City Council meeting on Monday night, Coun Andrew Williams (Ind, Moorside), said he felt the city is "missing a trick" by not reinstating the lucky hornblower pennies, which were designed and introduced in 2004, and financed by the then Ripon hornblower George Pickles.

They used to be handed out to bring good luck, good health and good fortune to all who had one, giving visitors a bite-sized piece of Ripon to take away with them and treasure as a special memento of their time in the city. More than 32,000 pennies are estimated to be in circulation around the world.

Now, the city council has announced plans to bring them back, and help raise funds for Ripon's rotary clubs in the process. Once the logistics are organised, councillors plan to have a rota of fundraising collections at the setting of the watch ceremony where the pennies would be handed out, to secure donations to be split between the rotary and the city's Christmas lights fund.

Coun Andrew Williams said: "I think we are missing a trick - every summer, we have literally thousands of visitors watching the ceremony at 9pm, and leaving with something that is a reminder of Ripon might encourage more people to come.back and remember their time in the city. This is also a way of raising money for good causes."

It was also suggested at the meeting that the pennies should be accompanied by some information about the history of Ripon's hornblower tradition.

The Mayor of Ripon, Coun Eamon Parkin, confirmed that he met with Jennyruth Workshops alongside Coun Andrew Williams to investigate the feasibility of bringing the pennies into production again.

Coun Stuart Martin, (Con, Moorside), said bringing this tradition back would also be an ideal opportunity to revisit how the setting of the watch ceremony is publicised - raising concerns that it is not as widely known about across the Harrogate district as it could be.

He said: "Not many people outside of Ripon know about the setting of the watch ceremony and have never been, which I find incredible. I think it's not perhaps being advertised as well as it could be. And when people come to see the ceremony the chances are that they will be spending money in the city as well.

"It would be good to see the promotional materials for it being handed out at venues across the district, such as Harrogate Convention Centre."

Coun Williams suggested that the council could look into the possibility of a number 36 bus being given hornblower branding to promote the tradition to both tourists and locals.

He said: "That might grab more attention than having a leaflet about the ceremony being stuck in a rack of 30 or 40 other leaflets. Sometimes it's good to just think outside the box a little and perhaps do things we haven't done before to catch people's eyes."