Carmen's Cart Marking Ceremony
The Worshipful Company of Carmen celebrated its 500th anniversary with the Cart Marking Ceremony in Guildhall Yard. The Corporation of the City of London has exercised its rights over carts and carriers since its inception. Carmen were licensed to use their carts in the City for deliveries and, more importantly, the removal of dung and other noxious waste before sewers were laid. Carts would branded with a mark each year to demonstrate that the terms of the licence had been met. Today, over 50 vehicles were brought into Guildhall Yard to be marked, including hand carts and bicycles; horse drawn coaches and trailers; vintage vehicles powered by steam, electricity, petrol and diesel to the very latest environmentally approved transport. Each vehicle would be greeted by the Master Carmen, the Lord Mayor, Master Glover and other dignitaries. The vehicles had wooden plaques to be branded with this year's logo, a "500" rather than a letter for each year. The Learned Clerk and I sat with other Masters and Clerks to watch the proceedings and offer a round of applause as each vehicle rolled up. I have to admit that I became rather uncomfortable when the hot branding iron came towards a wooden plaque affixed to the diesel fuel tank of a lorry. It was a fascinating 3 hours and we were rewarded with some extraordinary sights, including Field Marshall Montgomery's Silver Wraith, Corporal Jones's butcher's lorry from Dad's Army and a charabanc.
After the ceremony, we entered Guildhall Library for a glass of fizz before sitting down with 670 others for a very generous luncheon in the Great Hall. I had the pleasure of sitting between Master Fan Maker and Master Glass Seller. Conversation was very convivial and my snuff box did the rounds. Master Carmen, Marsha Rae Ratcliff (who has recently been honoured with an OBE for her services to charity), gave a delightful speech with a toast to the Corporation of London. The Lord Mayor provided a very witty response which produced loud laughter from the assembled diners. I was very privileged to be part of a great event and would recommend fellow liverymen and freemen to watch the ceremony next year.