Sunday 15 November 2009

Lord Mayor's Show

The annual show of pageantry in the heart of the City of London took place yesterday. The parade which consisted of floats, bands a carriages and was more than three miles long (longer than the route that it follows!) celebrates the investiture of the new Lord Mayor.

This year we had grandstand seats just in front of St Paul's Cathedral (a little further along the route than we normally stand).

When we arrived it looked like the forecasts of bad weather were far off the mark with bright sunshine and a blue cloudless sky; although the stiff wind prevented it from being warm, even in the sun.

The parade started, and we could hear the drums of the first marching band coming along Cheapside and New Change long before we saw the start of the parade. This float was The Aldersgate Ward Club - a fantastic construction. There are 25 wards in the City (rather like electoral districts) and each of them have a Ward Club.

This float was from Cheapside and was the costumes and much of the float was made up from recycled materials!

This large side of meat which must have been fighting the winds all morning represents the Worshipful Company of Butchers of whom the Lord Mayor is a Liveryman.

London Buses and Black Cabs (taxis) feature prominently in the parade - open top buses holding participants from Livery Companies etc. and Cabs specially decked up for the occasion as the one on the right representing the RAF.

Branches of the military also play a large part in the parade, on the left the RAF and on the right the band of the Royal Marines. The army were also there (complete, at one point, with a tank!).

This veritable zoo drew much admiration from the crowd, and also some worry when a particularly strong gust of wind almost lifted the Chinese Dragon off the ground!

Animals featured several times in the parade with the beautiful bird (left) and the city dragon (right) being two more fantastic examples.
Here's another Chinese Dragon, surviving the wind and the rain!

By this point in the proceedings it was really beginning to rain seriously, having had a few showers on and off for the previous half hour or so. The people in front of me thoughtfully decided to put up their umbrella up; tipping it backwards, thus blocking my view and tipping water into my lap. I pulled up the hood on my waterproof mac and put up with me legs getting wet!

This is the Plaisterers' float; of whom the Lord Mayor is an honorary Liveryman and also the mother company of one of the two Sheriffs Mr Peter Cook.

The rain continued to pour down, but the tail end of the show continued to pass, wet horses, wet riders and all.

At last, the bit we have all been waiting for - the Lord Mayor himself; Alderman Nick Anstee. Sadly he was waving out of the wrong side of the carriage as he passed us!

That isn't the end of the day though. The Corporation of the City of London has a massive clean-up job to do before the City workers flood back into the Square Mile on Monday morning... and of course the parade itself is still on the return journey from the Royal Courts of Justice back to Mansion house where dignitaries are entertained by the new Lord Mayor for lunch. We headed back to the Livery Hall where we were having lunch - thankful at last to be warm and dry (well, drying out).
The evening is usually characterised by a fireworks display from barges on the Thames, this was cancelled yesterday by the Port of London Authority due to the high winds.

By the time I made my way home the weather was clearing (left) - although walking through some of the narrow City streets (right) it was easy to appreciate the long history of the day.

Did you know: the word 'floats' originates from the barges used in the procession back when it used to take place on the Thames.