by John Sparks
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All photographs and articles copyright John Sparks 2020
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For the first time in 60 years, there was a new look to London's Lord Mayor's Parade held on Saturday November 10th 2007, Elspeth Ross and David Lawless, owners of Waldburg Shires, based at the Shire Horse Society Centre at Sacrewell Farm & Country Centre, led their team of 6 Shire Horses at the head of the Mayor's famous coach. Recent tradition has it that brewery horses are used - Whitbread's and Young's to be precise - but for the first time in a generation the privilege was put out to tender and after a number of interviews and site visits from the parade organisers, Waldburg Shires was given the contract.
"It was quite a tough procedure" Elspeth says, fine-tuning her horses for the big day, "but it was well worth it and we're all ever so excited!"
As with anyone passionate about their interest, Elspeth downplays just how tough it can be to look after these magnificent creatures, commenting nonchalantly "They are just bigger and heavier, that's all." She concedes that their feathers have to be cleaned everyday, but insists that apart from that there's nothing out of the ordinary required. She does seem to be thriving in her role as more of her time is taken caring for the ever-increasing number of Shire horses the Society is homing at Sacrewell. Just recently, for instance, the centre was proud to welcome a new foal and "Hopefully", says Elspeth displaying a wide smile, "there will be many more."
The team of 6 Shires had been training for the big day at Sacrewell, along with the driver, postillion (riding one of the lead horses), brakeman, footman and six walking grooms.
Photos of rehearsal and Lord Mayors Show 2007
Photos by John Sparks
The Lord Mayors coach weighs almost three tonnes
It travels at 5mph
Elaborate Rococo exterior includes panels painted by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Cipriani
The interior is lined in red silk, with a dyed red sheepskin rug.
Built over six months in 1757 by Joseph Berry of Holborn and costing £1,065.0s.3d
The coach is now owned by the Court of Common Council of the City of London.
The 2018 Lord Mayor's Show will be held on Saturdat 10th November