The Lord Mayor’s Show In The Early 1980s

The annual Lord Mayor’s Show took to the streets of the City yesterday. I did not visit this year’s event, but have been many times over the years, and I first started taking photos of the Lord Mayor’s Show in 1981.

For this week’s post, I have scanned a sample of photos from the Lord Mayor’s Show between 1981 and 1983. Rather than the main route of the procession, I always went to the streets where the procession assembled in the couple of hours before the start. It was here that you could talk to, and get some more interesting photos of those involved.

As well as the participants in the Lord Mayor’s Show during the early 1980s, these photos also show the area around London Wall as it was before the major rebuilding of the last couple of decades that has resulted in a significant change to the streets.

So, to start with, here are some uniformed Unigate milkmen:lord-mayors-show-1

Only at the Lord Mayor’s Show could you spend your day in (I think) a chicken costume:


I remember this character from the 1970s and 80s, but cannot recall his name:


The military have always played a significant role in the Lord Mayor’s Show:


I had forgotten all about this pub until I scanned this photo. In the background is the Plough pub on St Alphage High Walk. It was demolished in 2006 as part of the reconstruction of the area.  In the foreground is the Debenhams float, which I think is a bike they will all be cycling along the procession.


Chelsea pensioners from above:


The British Airways float:


I took this photo of the man in the centre, however look at the man to his right. he is carrying a cine camera. These photos are only around 35 years old, but this was the technology of the time – there is not a mobile phone in sight.


Cannot remember who “JLW” were:


“Why move to the middle of nowhere, when you can move to the middle of London?”


The brewer Samuel Smith with the Harrods float on the left:


British Telecom float. Very early computer terminals, but not a mobile phone in sight. How technology would change over the coming 35 years.


Post Office float – advertising down the side to “Use the postcode – you’re not properly addressed without it”.


The following few photos were taken from the footbridge that ran across London Wall from the southern to the northern sides of Wood Street. The church tower is that of St. Alban. This area has been completely rebuilt. Whilst the church tower remains, the exit of the southern part of Wood Street into London Wall is now a single lane. The surrounding buildings, the foot bridge and the elevated walkways have all disappeared and the 18 floor office block, 125 London Wall now sits across this junction.


LBC radio van:


Vintage army uniforms and equipment:


The Underground, advertising the capital investment that had recently resulted in the Heathrow extension of the Piccadilly line:


SAGA – “world-wide holidays for people who matter”:


This bus appears to be an entry by, or sponsored by Disney:


“Give me Bournemouth anytime” – the rather exotic entry that must be by the Bournemouth Tourist Board:


Float entry by the construction company Mansell advertising 75 years of the company’s existence. This would not last for too much longer as Mansell was purchased by Balfour Beatty in 2003 and the name was phased out in 2014.


British Telecom, when a large handset attached to a landline was the latest in technology:


Not sure what this float was:


A better view looking from the north edge of London Wall down Wood Street showing the stairs that ran up to the foot bridge and the pedestrianised walkways:


Floats from Selfridges and Harrods:


British Gas:


The military wait the start of the procession:


Military equipment:


The Lord Mayor’s Coach:


Passing The Plough pub on London Wall:


British Airways, City & Guilds College and Cubitts the builders:


In perhaps a reverse of the many other changes in the last 35 years, the Lord Mayor’s Show appeared to be much more commercial than it is today. Companies such as Selfridges, Harrods, British Airways, British Telecom and as shown below, BP, along with many others all had floats in the procession. An interesting change in focus.


The Lord Mayor’s Coach:


British Rail and the InterCity 125 train that had been introduced during the previous few years:


The Company of Pikemen and Musketeers of the Honourable Artillery Company have long been a feature of the Lord Mayor’s Show. Here marching down the northern part of Wood Street from Fore Street towards London Wall:


Milk and cheese deliveries to the door. Tesco float in the background:


Lord Mayor’s coach again:


The latest gas appliances from Unigas:


British Aerospace and the Jetstream 31 which first flew in 1980:


View along London Wall:


Harrods float:


London Docklands Development Corporation float. Created in 1981 at around the same time as these photos. The work of the L.D.D.C. would have a significant impact on the area of London east of Tower Bridge and down to the Isle of Dogs:


Wimpey, from the days when mock Tudor architecture was the aspiration for a new home owner:


Thames Water:


The Lord Mayor’s Coach in Wood Street by the tower of the church of St. Alban:


The Household Cavalry:


“Doorstep delivery service, British and best”:


It is a number of years since I last saw the above photos, and looking at them now the things that strike me most are the changes along London Wall, and the large number of private companies that once participated in the Lord Mayor’s Show. The procession seems rather different today.

London Wall at the time was the post war development of a heavily damaged area and consisted of plenty of rather unattractive office tower blocks, but looking at the photos now, including the junction of Wood Street and London Wall I feel strangely nostalgic for this area as it was. London Wall does not feel as much an open space as it did, with the building of 125 London Wall blocking the view along the length of the street.

20 thoughts on “The Lord Mayor’s Show In The Early 1980s

  1. Jonathan Wadman

    ‘Not sure what this float was’: perhaps a jazz band made up of staff from the major clearing banks? Various bank logos are just visible at the front of the float.

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks Jonathan, you are right. I had not looked at the carousel on the left of the lorry in detail, but it has the bank logos and the word “clearing” running round the top of the carouse, so as you correctly state, it must be made up of the major clearing banks.

  2. James Burke

    This post takes me back. The first full time job I had after leaving school was in St Alphage House on the 17th Floor in a stockbrokers. There was a sandwich bar next to that terrible pub. I remember the Simon Dee TV Show of the time had a sequence of him in an E Type Jag, driving down London Wall – very much ‘modern London’ at the time. I spent every lunchtime (and Saturdays, using my Season Ticket) exploring London – so much nicer at weekends with all the offices closed. Great blog – like the Sunday papers !

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks James for the feedback about the blog. London Wall with the high level walkways and the gleaming glass and steel office blocks were indeed portrayed very much as the new modern London, along with the dual carriageway that London Wall became. Not sure if any of it is left now, will need to walk the area again and check.

  3. MikeH

    The walkways above street level, which can be seen in the views of London Wall, are all part of the ‘Pedway’ scheme for The City of London in the 1950’s and 60’s. It was planned to separate pedestrians from the road traffic and provide a continuous walkway from building to building and across roads, all new buildings were required to provide this and as adjacent sites were developed the pedway would gradually expand to cover the whole of the city. Many buildings had included this and quite a few bridges were built but inevitably there were many dead ends awaiting further development and the whole plan was abandoned by the 1980’s.

  4. MikeH

    Further to my previous reply this documentary contains lots of old film including the bomb sites around St Pauls. Its called Elevating London by Chris Bevan Lee.

    1. admin Post author

      Mike, thanks so much for the link to this film, really is very fascinating. Have watched once and will probably watch a few times. Many of the early black and white film of the area before development is the same views as photos my father took over the whole area between 1948 and 1949. Thanks again

  5. Jo W

    That float was put in by the clearing banks and I seem to remember that the National Westminster Bank Jazz Band wore blue striped blazers. I think that we still have an LP of theirs somewhere in this house. Yes,we did work for that establishment – when it was a bank!
    I can remember the England Fan but not his name. He’s by the ‘Bournemouth’ float because he lived there and could often be seen in a deckchair outside his beach hut on the front. The hut was similarly decked out in England flags and favours.
    Great photos again,Admin,bringing back more memories. Thank you.

    1. admin Post author

      Jo, thanks as always for the feedback. I had a closer look at the float with the jazz band and it does have all the bank logos on a carousel on the left of the lorry and the word clearing along the top. Had not noticed that when I was working my way through the photos. Had some other comments which identified the England fan as Ken Bailey. Did not know he was from Bournemouth, which as you say would explain why he is by the Bournemouth float. Thanks, David

  6. Julie

    I love this blog and now I have a chance to comment as I am actually in one of the shots!
    Every year, my kids have to endure, as we watch the Lord Mayor s parade on TV, my trip down memory lane recounting the year Tom ( husband) and I took part, alongside many of our fellow Disney workers in this wonderful parade
    I couldn’t believe it when, upon opening your blog, daring to hope that we might have been snapped…….. there we are! Me ( Cinderella) and other half Tom, (Bert) ……
    I remember, it rained that day too, as it so often does for the parade!
    But nobody minded… Long live the parade!

    1. admin Post author

      Julie, that is brilliant. I did wonder if anyone in the photos would ever see these photos, and very surprised and pleased that this happened so quickly. Must have been an experience being in the procession. Luckily it did not rain as much as it did for the show this year, watching on TV is was very wet. Thanks for letting me know.

  7. David Barnard

    Many thanks for this.
    I used to live in the Barbican in the 70s so all the streets in your photos are very familiar to me.
    I now live off Theobalds Road and until recently the Horse Artillery (with gun carriages) use to use it as a back way to get to the City for the procession. It certainly cheered up an early Saturday morning

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks David – the Barbican is still much the same – the photo of the north end of Wood Street where it runs up to Fore Street is still much the same, however London Wall is now very different. Must have been a great sight to watch the Horse Artillery run along Theobalds Road.

    1. admin Post author

      Indeed Annie – where else but the Lord Mayor’s Show could you spend a Saturday in London dressed as a cheese or a milk bottle !

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks for the link Vinny, really interesting. I recognised him from the time but did not known that he lived in Bournemouth. Quite a character.

  8. John Burke

    I helped make the Thames Water Float whilst doing my apprenticeship at the Thames Water depot in willesden. The fish was cut from a huge block of polystyrene and painted by a lady called Margaret. Back in 1982 as stated above.

  9. Matt

    I’m late commenting on this but maybe someone will read it… I love the blog, and these photos in particular. I have a real interest in the postwar architecture and development of the City.

    JLW may have been Jones Lang Wootton, the real estate agent and fore-runner of Jones Lang LaSalle.

    A number of the photos taken around the junction of Wood St and London Wall show the lower half of a browny/grey brutalist building that seems to have run along the south side of London Wall between Noble St and Wood St. Does anyone know anything about this building – what it was called, who occupied it etc?



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *