Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Worshipful Company of Carmen

Believe me, London has its fair share of ceremonies and traditions, but one of the most obscure ones I've seen took place in July in the Guildhall Yard located in the section of London called The City. Hosted each year by the Worshipful Company of Carmen, one of the Livery Companies of the City of London, this ceremony has been taking place for the last 500 years.They originally controlled the supply of carts and wagons allowed in the city, so each year they would brand the carts with a mark for that year to certify that is was valid for use.

The tradition continues today, although the vehicles are a bit different than 500 years ago. Dignitaries, Chelsea pensioners, and special invited guests were invited to this year's ceremony to view the physical branding of vehicles both new and old as they passed in front of the viewing stand of the Lord Mayor.

This year, the vehicles were branded with the letter S, in the spirit of the old tradition.

Many passed by in review to be branded including this 1910 dust cart,

and this early "moving van."

Several buses made their way through including this 1952 Leyland Royal Tiger Coach

and this 1950 Bedford Sea Front Bus.

A 1959 wood paneled truck for carrying livestock

and a 1921 Burrell Road Locomotive, which made quite an entrance.

Full of gents and ladies in formal dress, this 1926 Char-a-banc, which was popular for sightseeing trips to the seaside or country ran just fine until it approached the entrance to the Guildhall Yard. At that point, it just "played out," and much to the dismay of all its posh passengers, it had to be emptied and pushed up for branding.

Amidst all the innovative new vehicles and the vintage cars and trucks, slipped in this 1939 Rolls Royce which has been used in service to the queen as her luggage car.

I leave you with a photo of the Guildhall, taken on a calmer day, because I think it is one of the prettiest buildings in London. As the Cart Marking Ceremony came to a close, the Lord Mayor and distinguished guests slipped inside for a champagne reception and lunch, making for a proper finish to one of the quirkier ceremonies still taking place in London today.


  1. Worshipful Company of Carmen...what an intriguing title...what does it mean? Thanks for that quirky London insight. 500 years of tradition has got to stand for something. Great pics.

  2. Wow! So interesting! I had never heard of this! Thanks for the visit and info today!

  3. Debi, I enjoyed this so much!! Love the relic of a ceremony (which I'd never heard of) and the beautiful parade of vehicles. I had to show my husband who was so impressed with the condition of the different models. A lovely treat – thanks so much as always for sharing. – g

  4. I wonder if the government owns the vehicles or if they are privately owned, maintained and housed? It is certainly interesting to see the trucks, buses, etc.
    There was a show on the other night about the various ceremonies that the Queen had to attend and sponsor. Following that was a program that listed the different jobs that Prince Phillip had wanted to abolish after he married Elizabeth, and how he wanted to modernize the monarchy. With the exception of televising her coronation, most of his ideas did not come to fruition.

  5. What wonderful photos Debi ~ I particularly like the removalist-cart and that gorgeous locomotive of James Noyce & Sons. I loved this little insight into times past.

  6. Gosh this was an interesting post. Love the old 1950's buses. Isn't something how they would celebrate something like this for that many years.
    Would of loved to been a fly on the wall at the reception afterwards.
    Thanks honey for visiting my site.
    Hope your doing well

  7. Makes me want to go down to London! Haven't been for several months, though I live so close now. Love, Katrin

  8. Loving the Bedford Sea Front Bus. I picture the kids from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe riding around in it. Or perhaps Harry Potter and gang, stuck in some kind of time warp.

    So cool!!!

  9. You are right-that is quirky! I have never heard of this so thanks for the fabulously informative post. I always learn new things when I visit you.

    Best wishes and happy Friday,

  10. The buses look amazing, do you by any chance have any contact details, I would love to hire the old bedford.