Last week saw another of those wonderful traditions of the City of London that make it such a unique place. Cart marking is organised by the Worshipful Company of Carmen, one of the City's ancient, but still very much active and alive livery companies, about which I have written before. This is the 77th Livery company in order of precedence (there are currently 110 livery companies) and they have a long history going back to 1517. The City has granted licences to carts to ply for trade for hundreds of years and this ceremony reflects that. Vehicles parade through Guildhall yard and are ceremonially marked with a red hot iron with the relevant letter for the year. This year is Y. I must confess that when I read about this I couldn't quite get my head around how the marking would be done without wrecking the paintwork! But it is fiendishly simple. There is a wooden plate attached to each vehicle and the branding is done on that. That never occurred to me which just goes to show how practical I am!
It is usually done by the Lord Mayor, but in his absence this year the Lady Mayoress and one of the Sheriffs officiated. Now if you are wielding a red hot iron you need to ensure that you aren't burnt, so step forward another of the City's Livery Companies: the Worshipful Company of Glovers. They, of course, provide the heat proof gloves that are so essential. There was a wonderful parade of vehicles, from horse drawn carriages to modern street cleaning equipment. There was even a London bus driven by the head of British rail. And there were trumpeters to start and finish the event as you can see. Once all the vehicles have been marked, they parade once more through the yard. There was a bit of traffic jam as they left! As I was walking to the ceremony I overheard a conversation between two chaps walking along. One had obviously asked why there was some traffic disruption and the other said "oh it's one of those ceremonies..." Well yes it was and long may they continue! As you can see from the attached pictures the size of the vehicles to be marked ranged from a hand drawn funeral cart to something rather bigger.. How wonderful to live in a city where these things still happen.....