They were made defunct by the advent of newspapers.
But dozens of town criers descended on Huddersfield determined to shout out for the historic tradition.
Voices boomed out across the Piazza Centre as competitors vied for the British Championship title.
Shoppers could hardly ignore the spectacle as criers male and female performed on stage dressed in 18th century costume.
The cries, which used to be used to spread new and local information, were often told in a light-hearted fashion.
Biddulph’s town crier proclaimed: “I come from a town that gives you a riddle, with a river that runs right through the middle!”
Meanwhile Sandwell Town Crier, Adrian Holmes, boomed his area was “born in 1974, formed from two counties near Birmingham that are no more.”
Alnwick’s town crier took a more unusual approach, hollering: “Don’t come to Alnwick, the place is over-run; with cars and bikes, now the season has begun.”
The contest, featuring 24 town criers from across Britain, was organised by Huddersfield’s own town crier Vic Watson.
It featured the cream of the crop, including three-times world champion and twice British champion, Michael Wood.
And it was the reigning champion who again walked away with the title, along with the ‘best dressed crier’ prize.
Mr Wood, crier for the whole of the East Riding, joked: “Most people get a village or town but I get a whole county.”
He added: “After a couple of bad marriages, awkward girlfriends and difficult kids you learn to shout.
“It’s quite a good feeling to compose something, stand there and deliver it and get a round of applause, it’s like a therapy.”
Sandwell crier Adrian Holmes is just two years into his post.
“It’s great to be able to be part of the fraternity and keep an old tradition going,” he said.
“I think we’re all exhibitionists, you have to be slightly extrovert to dress as we do and to shout at people – which is fantastic because they can’t shout back at you.”
John Myers, one of the judges, said the standard had been high.
He said: “It’s got to flow, diction and inflection are important.
“It’s a tough competition to judge as there’s usually only about 12 and there’s some very good town criers this year.
“The standard’s amazingly high this year compared to other years.
“About a quarter of them are a cut above.”
Huddersfield crier, Vic Watson, added: “It was absolutely wonderful, the judges said they’d never had a competition that had been so close before.
“I’d like to thank all the businesses who sponsored us as – without them we wouldn’t have been able to host it.”