Lord Mayor’s Day
An unexpected invitation to view the Lord Mayor’s arrival into the City by river on his big day was extraordinary. The Royal Row Barge, complete with an escort of a dozen or so of Watermen’s cutters, processed downstream from Westminster, through the capital’s bridges and finally through the triumphal raised arches of Tower Bridge on to HMS President; echoing the ceremony of the Lord Mayor’s Parade which used to be played afloat for all the citizens to see (hence the word ‘float’).
The graceful arrival at the RN landing stage was greeted by the band of the Royal Marines (also here for the Lord Mayor’s Show) and a Sea Cadet unit which provided the guard of honour. Meanwhile, the flotilla stood off in salute. Further upstream, the visiting patrol vessel ‘HMS Severn’ lying alongside HMS Belfast had greeted the incoming Lord Mayor with a traditional Royal Naval salute too.
Meanwhile, on board HMS President, the Royal Naval shore unit prepared for the Lord Mayor’s transfer ashore bound for the Mansion House. A traditional tot of rum greeted the rowers, with a bacon butty – they had been on the water since 7.30am.
Many of their Watermen’s cutters carried liveried dignitaries beneath their coloured canopies and flew splendid traditional standards. Likewise the Royal Row Barge was resplendent, be-flagged with significant standards echoing the images of yesteryear. As often on these occasions, Lord Sterling of Plaistow looked on proudly as his financial indulgence performed yet another important role in traditional Thames occasions.
Lord Mayor Yarrow’s forebears once ran a ship yard building fast patrol boats on the Isle of Dogs just across the river from where I write. Also, from the Isle of Dogs, padre Pyke officiated as honorary chaplain to HMS President; I can see the spire of his church just across the tideway, standing proud and isolated amongst the ever-growing Canary Wharf skyline. His Christ Church of St. John was the hub of the newly-built enterprise of Cubitt Town back in 1842, which was one of the first new settlements on the Isle of Dogs – much blitzed in WW2. I had promised to wave to him when I wake first thing in the morning!!