The 2008 Lord Mayor’s Show was on Saturday 8 November. In a
change to recent good fortune it was a VERY wet day as can be
attested to by any of those who took part or watched what was,
as always, a very entertaining parade.
In 1215, King John granted a Charter allowing the City’s
citizens to elect their own mayor. The Charter stipulated that the
new Mayor must be presented to the Sovereign for approval and
to swear fealty to the Crown, so each year the newly elected
Mayor had to travel from the City to Westminster to pledge
Originally, the Show occurred annually on 29 October. until
1751 when Great Britain replaced the Julian Calendar with the
Gregorian Calendar. The Lord Mayor's Show was then moved to
9 November. In 1959, another change was made and now, the
Lord Mayor's Show is held on the second Saturday in November.
The Lord Mayor's Show has not been moved from it’s
scheduled day since 1852, when the Show made way for the
funeral of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.
The loyalty of the Lord Mayor is probably less questionable
now than it was in 1215, but the newly elected Mayor must still
make his way to the Royal Courts of Justice to pledge allegiance
to the Crown, just as Dick Whittington did in 1397 (and again in
1406 and 1419).
As you watch the Lord Mayor’s coach go by, remember that
someone stood in exactly that spot 450 years ago and marvelled
at the sight of a camel on its way to meet Elizabeth I.
The route was varied each year so that the procession could
pass through the Lord Mayor’s home ward; since 1952, however,
the route has been fixed at just over 1½ miles (shorter than the 3
mile procession!). It travels from Mansion House via Cheapside,
Ludgate Hill and Fleet Street, to the Royal Courts of Justice
where the Lord Mayor takes an oath of allegiance to the
sovereign before the Lord Chief Justice and the judges of the
Queen’s Bench Division.
The procession sets off on the return journey from Victoria
Embankment and returns to Mansion House, via Queen Victoria
In earlier times the Lord Mayor often undertook the journey
by river or on horseback, the river transport gave rise to the word
float, used in the context of parades. After Lord Mayor Sir Gilbert
Heathcote was unseated by a drunken flower girl in 1710, state
coaches replaced horses. The last time barges were used was in
These days the Lord Mayor travels in a State Coach with
side panels painted by Cipriani, who also did the panels of the
Gold State Coach used by Queen Elizabeth II. The Lord Mayor's
Coach was built in 1757 at a cost of £1,065.0s.3d. (over
£120,000 in modern terms). It is pulled by six horses - only two
fewer than that of the Queen.
The Paviors were among 18 of the 107 Livery companies to
enter a float, again pulled by “our” steam roller from Amberley.
The drivers of which have to be thanked for their dedication to
the cause, to the extent of having to rise before 4am on the
morning of the parade to “steam up”. Thanks must also go to the
Pavior’s organisational team of Ian Lumsden, Miles Ashley and
Jacqui Davies. Not to mention, of course, our sponsors Lafarge,
Nutall, and St. Gobain and the walking party that followed up the
float and Jazz band.
Our entry was very well received, particularly the Steam
Roller, a treat for all little children and some not so little ones.
The Pavior’s uniform for this event (High Viz jackets and hard
hats) was a little more practical given the prevailing weather than
the outfits worn by some participants, giving at least some
protection from the elements. All except the master and
Wardens, whose splendid robes got rather wet and dirty from the
clouds of steam and smoke given off by the steam roller, but that
is to be expected when standing two or three feet from the back
of a real working steam engine.
After the parade was finished many of the volunteers retired
to Doggetts Coat and Badge on the South side of Blackfriars
bridge where they sought protection from the inclement weather
and a chance to dry out and have something to warm the bones
whilst waiting for the fireworks. The fireworks are fired off from a
barge moored between Blackfriars and Waterloo Bridges and are
probably the finest display to be had in London at that time of
year, well worth waiting for whilst getting re-acquainted with
friends and colleagues.