When I first joined the Tylers and Bricklayers I often wondered why we were not part of the procession which winds its way through the square mile as part of the annual Lord Mayor’s show. This always takes place the day after the Silent Ceremony, on the second Saturday of November.
Providing a Company float is a major undertaking in terms of organisation, preparation and considerable cost. However, this year to our great joy we were asked to take part in a walking float entitled the “Senior Livery Companies float”.
I think a bit of background on how this float was conceived is useful, especially in relation to charitable causes and distribution of funds. I quote here an extract from our briefing note.
“This float represents the 76 Liveries which were formed before 1926, some as far back as the Norman Conquest. Those founded after 1926 are called the Modern Livery Companies, and they too have a float in the Show”.
“Generally speaking, the Seniors or The Ancient Liveries tend to have the larger charitable endowment funds (they have had longer to build them up) and so collectively donated about 70% of the £76m which the London Liveries distributed to good causes last year”.
“This sum rises quietly each year and routinely makes the London Liveries the fifth or sixth largest charitable grant making body annually in the UK. The recipients of their grants are bodies great and small, spread across a huge spectrum, but the biggest focus is generally on education, homelessness, hunger, domestic abuse, mental health and to address re-offending”.
Now on to the fun bit, the day kicked off at Ironmongers Hall for breakfast and briefing at 9.00am. Our Learned Clerk, Heather Smith, had provided a placard with the Company coat of arms and the strap line ‘We Built London’. This was a little ironic as we ended up marching next to the Bakers, one of whose predecessors might have accidently burnt down London.
The weather and our position in the procession could not have been better, as our walking float was number 2. This meant we were just behind the band of the Royal Irish Guards – so literally right at the front. Our prominent position was ably manoeuvred by the canny Renter Warden, Jenny Rolls.
We set off at 11am, and being behind a military band meant we walked a quick march in time to the music. The route took us from Aldersgate Street to Bank, Mansion House (where we waved to the new Lord Mayor), Cheapside, St Paul’s, Ludgate Hill and Fleet Street. Before we knew it we had reached our destination, Carmens’ Hall, without actually realising it apart from being somewhat warm!
As you can imagine, waving, doffing, acknowledging and more importantly showing appreciation to the army of bystanders and well-wishers who lined the streets was hungry and thirsty work. An excellent lunch was provided by the Carmen, for which we were very grateful.
Then we had the lovely surprise of being met by Past Master Ian Mitchell Grimshaw on Embankment, just outside HQS Wellington, prior to the second part of the procession.
We continued east along Embankment, then Queen Victoria Street, again passing Mansion House where we took a second opportunity of waving to the new Lord Mayor.
To say that we all thoroughly enjoyed the day is an understatement; personally, I felt honoured and privileged to be part of the occasion. It was so interesting to be walking through the streets of the city and seeing things from such a different perspective and walking down the middle of the road with no traffic. Also meeting members of other Ancient Livery Companies was a real joy. I would like to say we saw many of the other floats but being at the front of the procession made this difficult.
The good news is that “The Seniors” float is likely to continue in the future, so we hope to be back again next year!
Liveryman and Silver Steward, Martin Reading