Saturday 9th November 2019, London

Of all the parades in the British Isles, few are held in such high regard and enjoy such an illustrious history as the Lord Mayor’s Show. The parade, which takes place in central London each November dates back 0ver 800 years, serves to celebrate the day when the successive Lord Mayor is sworn into office.The parade, which snakes a 3.5 mile route across the capital, showcases a wide selection of floats and groups: charities, military units, companies, universities, youth groups and marching bands.

16 members of the Syston Scout & Guide Band paraded with the Corps of Drum Society. Together, we totalled upwards of 60 musicians drawn from ourselves, the Chesham All Girls Band and the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick among others. With our competition season wrapped up in September, we had been practicing the marches for several weeks, attending a Corps of Drums practice session a fortnight earlier and running through the music in our Wednesday practice evenings at the Scout hall.

The Corps of Drums Society ready for the off

After a 5am start, and several z’s from the rear, the minibus arrived into London well in time for our 9am sign in. in the car park beneath Smithfield Market, hundreds of members of both civilian and military bands were concealed, ready for the off. For the next few hours, the old adage “Hurry Up and Wait” was followed to the letter. The order of the parade placed marching bands periodically throughout, with 1 band to 4 or 5 regular floats. As each band filtered into the parade, the remainder of us would march forward to fill the space, then wait for another few floats to pass by, before marching forward a little more. With the Corps of Drums Society placed 86th in the running order, this sequence repeated itself no less than a dozen times. We were glad to get going!

Syston Drum Major, Chris Bodycot leading the way

The order of play was as follows:

Killaloe, Heraldry, Adjutant, Retreat Marches, Bugle Bells, Legs Eleven, Mud Cabin, Mechanised Infantry, Hazelmere, Jellalabad, Galanthia, Children’s Love.

Bell Lyre players formed a rank between the drummers and bugles

The route itself began by passing under the bridge outside the Museum of London,then turned left onto gresham street. Taking the right hand bend outside Mansion House, Drum Major Chris Bodycot saluted the incoming Lord Mayor William Russell whilst the band played the march Children’s Love. We took a left down New Change, then turned right to head past St. Paul’s Cathedral. Making our way down Fleet Street, and then onto the Strand, we passed the Royal Courts of Justice and the statues of Samuel Johnson and William Gladstone, then we directed towards the embankment for lunch.

Full route: 4.6 miles of marching, passing Mansion House, The Strand, and St. Paul’s Cathedral

After a sandwich lunch we formed up alongside HMS Wellington for the second part of the parade. There was time for photos and it was at this point that it started to rain. The chilly November air led to some regret about leaving the coats on the bus, but we agreed that our uniform was the smarter choice. The route back was straightforward, past the London offices of the Financial Times and HSBC to Mansion House, and then retracing our steps to the Museum of London. 4.5 miles of marching in total over a 4 hour period, we then headed to the Rising Sun to hydrate ready for the journey back. The band arrived back to Syston at around 8:30, a long day, but enjoyed by all. With many of the band playing in the Remembrance service the following morning, it was time for bed. 

Syston Band Members on the bank of the River Thames

Our thanks to Jess for organising the day and to Chris for getting us and our instruments there safe.  Next year, it would be great to have more of an explore, staying over in London to enjoy the evening firework display.

Report by Bass Drummer, Scott Jenkins