It rained on the day of the Lord Mayor’s Show on Saturday 12 November. But it often does! All the same the crowds lined the streets, the participants with their floats were undeterred and the rain even eased off. So, even though we were damp, our spirits were not.
It was by courtesy of the Worshipful Company of Firefighters that our Company was in the Show, marking the 350th
anniversary of the Great Fire. We are grateful to the Firefighters for enabling us to do so with them.
Four wardens, Patrick Wilkins, Paul Morrow, Christopher Freeman and I, walked behind a horse-drawn manual fire engine of 1889 vintage. Behind us Sarah Auton, Christopher Freeman’s daughter and Nem and Ben from the office walked in Bakers’ “Whites”. The Master travelled in style – well, sort of style; he was perched precariously on one of the seats on the fire engine, clinging on for dear life every time the fire engine jerked. The walkers declined any invitation to join him up there! It was safer walking, even though we had to dodge quite a lot of horse manure. In other circumstances, keen gardeners would have run onto the roads to scoop it up!
Our only cavil might have been with what was written on the poster alongside the fire engine. Under the heading “Great Fire 1666” was written the word “Bakers” underneath which was the legend “We started it!” and under the heading “Firefighters” was written “We weren’t there to stop it!” It would have been churlish of us to take issue with it as a piece of historical analysis, as all of us got on really well over the four or so hours that we were together. So we didn’t.
We started (thanks to the good offices of the Firefighters) at the offices of DLA Piper in Noble Street, just off Gresham Street where, thanks to the Beadle, Nem and Ben we found our robes, carefully hidden behind a counter. It was then a steady walk through the City, doffing our caps to the new Lord Mayor and waving at the crowds as we went. A lunchtime interlude on HQS Wellington with a glass of champagne and a sandwich with other Livery Companies fortified us for the return journey in good order.
We were, of course, not alone. Our float was number 19, a happy number for us as it reflected our seniority in the list of Liveries. There were some 140 floats and about 7000 people taking part. The Clerk was riding in his 39th Show and the Beadle was with the City of London Beadles Guild. So we were well represented this year. It is the largest unrehearsed procession in the world. For me, as a novice, it was a privilege to be part of an unforgettable and unique experience, to welcome the new Lord Mayor, Andrew Parmley, and to wish him well in his year.