Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Cart Marking

Today I witnessed one of the 'unique to the City' occasions--the annual marking of carts in Guildhall Yard. It was absolutely packed with spectators. For centuries the Corporation of the City of London exercised its rights over carts and carriers. It was agreed that all vehicles would be licensed and would bear an individually numbered brass plate with the City arms on the shaft. This changed in 1838 when the power to license was vested in the Keeper of the Guildhall. He was empowered to mark the 'carrs and carts' of Freemen of the Fellowship of Carmen to stand and ply for hire in the City's streets. Each vehicle was brought into Guildhall to be marked with each year being distinguished by a letter and each 'carr' by a number.
Times change but this time honoured tradition continues to be maintained by the Worshipful Company of Carmen. Once a year Carmen bring their treasured vehicles to be branded, or marked, with a red hot iron, on a wooden plate which each vehicle carries.. This ancient ceremony acts as a reminder of centuries of service to the City. The vehicles vary enormously and to give you some idea here are a few.

A steam powered 1937 Sentinel Wagon

1902 Purdey Pantechnicon

I have no idea!

Ann original Smithfield Bumaree

So that you can see the wooden plates which are branded, or 'marked', see the picture below. The last mark here is the letter 'S'. This year the mark burnt in was 'T'

If you have never seen this ceremony, attended by the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs, make a note to go next year. It is a truly eccentric British one-off.

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