A steamy day out in London

David Vaughan

The Lord Mayors show  in city of London is one of the year’s major spectator events. With over 100 floats, marching bands and military exhibits featuring horse mounted cavalry it attracts large crowds along the route which passes many well-known London landmarks. Floats and displays by the ancient livery companies of the city are always a major part of the parade and one of these is entered by The Worshipful Company of Paviors whose task it was originally to keep the London streets and pavements clear of muck, and to round up any stray animals such as dogs and pigs.

Because of this their float has for many years featured a giant inflatable pig!

Every year the Pavior’s float is pulled by a steam roller which is normally provided by Amberley museum as the museum is home to a  road-making display, the building of which was sponsored by the Worshipful company of Paviors. The Aveling and Porter roller that Amberley museum normally sends has been out of service for major boiler work for some time and so it was that the Jessett Trust was asked to provide the traction power for the float this year.

The roller chosen for the task was the 1909 built Tasker B2 ‘Little Giant’ No1409

The Paviors provided a modern Low-loader which piggy-backed our roller up to the city where it was given a specially reserved parking and unloading bay  and allocated its own Marshall in the form of a smartly turned out uniformed officer complete with ceremonial sword!

After several days of torrential rain the Saturday of the show dawned cold but sunny and the crew of Ben French and Greg Luck, ably assisted by Adrian Vaughan and Peter Haining, had steam up by 9:30 am and were unloaded ready to go to pick up the float at the assembly point by 10.00am

We were allocated float number 84 which meant there was a long wait before we could join the procession. This presented a problem as we were told to be ready to move at any time so a good fire and head of steam had to be maintained whilst avoiding the safety valves lifting and risking frightening any of the many horses involved in the parade. In the end this proved well nigh impossible but as they say “No horses were harmed in the making of this show!”  We set off at about 11.30 pulling the Pavior’s float which featured an array of small inflatable pigs and was followed by a group of Paviors holding on to chords attached to a giant inflatable Pig with a bell hanging round its neck! This was to commemorate the fact that, in ancient times, if a Pavior recovered a stray pig with a bell round its neck it belonged to the church and could be returned in exchange for a reward. 

The master of the Paviors Sue Illman joined us for a photo’ opportunity and rode on the float. She was interviewed by the BBC, whose live coverage of the event was shown on TV and featured a nice overhead shot of our roller and the float. 

The spectacle of mounted riders from the household cavalry, the lifeguards, horse-drawn gun carriages, and of course a steam roller pulling a float with a giant pig, was seen and enjoyed by a vast crowd who lined all the streets and filled the specially built grandstands. Even the choir of St Paul’s Cathedral turned out to see us pass by.

The names of all the sponsors,  including Tinkers Park, were displayed on the sides of the float. A halfway stop was made near the Royal Courts whilst the new Lord Mayor was sworn in, and we were provided with hot soup and rolls by the Paviors which was very welcome. After this the procession set of once again for the Mansion House however by this time the weather had deteriorated and the rain  had once again set in. Despite the damp end to the day it was a tired but very happy band of Tinkers Park volunteers who arrived back at Hadlow Down on Saturday evening after a very memorable day out.