The Annual Brigantes Breakfast
Wednesday 26th July 2017
The Brigantes were a collection of pre-Roman Conquest tribes based in the north of England. For some reason, Humberside was not counted as part of their territory. That’s a shame because that’s where I come from. The amalgamation of northern tribes took their name from the Celtic goddess Brigantia.
With a Lord Mayor of London from Blackpool, I thought I should support him and other northern liverymen by attending the third Brigantes Breakfast. The first two were held in York and Sheffield and next year’s will be held in Leeds. I also thought it would be rather nice to do some sightseeing in Liverpool. A former UK city of culture, Liverpool has had the benefit of significant investment and friends who have ventured there told me it was worth the visit.
We visited old friends in Nantwich on Monday night and drove through Cheshire the next day to emerge from the Mersey Tunnel into central Liverpool. We had booked two nights at the “Hard Day’s Night Hotel” in the “Cavern Quarter” of the City. As expected, the hotel was full of posters and memorabilia of the Fab Four and the muzak was exclusively Beatles. After a stroll around the gentrified Albert Dock on a lovely summer evening, we bought tickets for a showing of Dunkirk at the IMAX theatre. I couldn’t help thinking there was a connection between the scenes of the British Expeditionary Force awaiting evacuation and the lines of vehicles queuing for the Manx and Belfast ferries. The connection became clearer as we walked around the “Cavern Quarter” staying clear of men eyeballing each other and squaring up for a fight while others were bedding down in doorways for the night. We popped into the Cavern Club during a rendition of “Yellow Submarine”. We didn’t stay long.
It certainly rains in Liverpool. However, the deluge ceased as we made our way to the magnificent St Georges Hall. The northern cities have wonderful monuments to Victorian civic excess and St Georges Hall is probably the grandest of all. We enjoyed a reception on the northern side steps, overlooking the station. It was an opportunity to chat with other masters and consorts, many of whom had taken the train from Euston, arriving just before noon. Masters were invited to process into the Concert Hall with the Lord Mayor of London and principal guests. While the exterior is magnificent, the interior is breath-taking with a 25 metre high barrel vault ceiling supported by columns of red granite. Stained glass windows depict St George slaying the dragon at one end, while the other end shows Neptune and what I presume to be a liver bird of the feathered variety. Beneath that window is the most impressive organ, built in 1855 and subsequently modified and expanded. As we processed, the 420 diners clapped us in while the organ thundered.
During our meal, we were entertained by the organist, a trad jazz band and a George Formby impersonator singing about his little stick of Blackpool Rock. I had expected Andrew Parmley to have a go on the organ but he remained at ground level to respond to a toast on behalf of the guests.
It was a memorable day when the City of London livery movement moved north and “us northerners” celebrated our connections to the lands formerly known as Brigantia (except for the Mistress and me because Humberside did not count).