My Life with The


by John Sparks

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The icon of London's Lord Mayor’s Show, the gold State Coach, was under new management in 2007 as the role of pulling the 250-year-old coach through the streets of the City of London had been handed over to a new team from Waldburg Shires.

Brewers’ horses Whitbread for 52 years and Young's for 8 years have traditionally been used to pull the State Coach to the Royal Courts of Justice in the City of Westminster, but this year, for the first time, responsibility fell to six shire horses from Waldburg Shires, based at Sacrewell Farm and Country Centre near Peterborough.

The six, led by David Lawless and Elspeth Ross, were:

Nearside – Waldburg Macy, eight years
Offside – Waldburg Scott, six years

Centre horses:
Nearside – Waldburg Horace, nine years
Offside – Waldburg William, eight years

Nearside (Postillion) – Waldburg Comet, 10 years
Offside – Waldburg Beatrice, 12 years 9 ( The first mare to be used for over sixty years to pull the coach )

The shires horses were not the only new faces to be seen at the event as they were expertly driven by another new face – coachman Alan Tillier. Although it may seem a far cry from Alan’s normal job as a lorry driver, he is in fact an expert coachman, having worked with shire horses in the UK and across the world for almost 30 years. Alan, 50, from Cullompton in Devon had been making the 223 mile journey from his home to Peterborough every week to train with the new horses in preparation for the big day.

Alan said: “I have known David and Elspeth for many years, and when they asked me to take on this role I was honoured and delighted. I have been a coachman for many years, but this particular role was prestigious and of course we had been rehearsing to get everything as near perfection as possible.”

Also old hands John Sparks walked with the offside wheeler, David Hatton with the nearside wheeler and Bill Papworth on the brake at the rear, all three are ex Whitbread horse drivers and had done these jobs for Whitbread.

The Lord Mayor’s State Coach is also something not to be missed. Weighing in at almost three tonnes the coach will travel at a stately 5mph. Built in 1757 by Joseph Berry of Holborn the coach cost the princely sum of £1,065.0s.3d. It's elaborate Rococo exterior includes panels painted by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Cipriani while the interior is lined in red silk, with a dyed red sheepskin rug. The coach is now owned by the Court of Common Council of the City of London and when not in the Show, it is usually housed at the Museum of London.

The Lord Mayor’s Show is the first public engagement of the new Lord Mayor as he travels through the City from the Mansion house to the Royal Courts of Justice and back to pledge allegiance to the sovereign. He is preceded by a three-mile long procession celebrating music, dance, culture and the history of the City and beyond.

John Sparks walked along side the state coach in the 2008 show for Waldburg shires

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