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Sacrewell Shires to pull Lord Mayor's Coach


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For the first time in 60 years, there will be a new look to London's Lord Mayor's Parade.

On Saturday November 10th, Elspeth Ross and David Lawless, owners of Waldburg Shires, based at the Shire Horse Society Centre at Sacrewell Farm & Country Centre, will lead 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, now fine-tuning her horses for the big day, "but it was well worth it and we're all ever so excited!"

The big day! There will be 16 team members on the day, all - as you'd imagine immaculately dressed. "Last month we all had to go down to London to be measured up for the uniforms, so that was very interesting and we got to have a look at the route. We'll practise on it three times before the big day - but at midnight, because obviously the traffic is just too heavy around the City of London in the daytime," David explains. The Lord's Mayor Parade has been taking over the streets of London for nearly 800 years now and involves over 6,000 people, bands, more than 140 decorated floats, costumed performers and a gilded State Coach that the Lord Mayor travels in, pulled this year by Waldburg's fine Shires from Sacrewell!

The Lord Mayor is required to swear an oath of loyalty to the Queen (in the presence of the Lord Chief Justice) at the end of the parade which runs from Guildhall to the Royal Courts of Justice. Spectators are welcome and best of all, unless you wish to sit in the grandstand, it's free! The procession leaves the Guildhall at 10.50am for Mansion House. At 11.05am it leaves Mansion House and travels via St Paul's, the Royal Courts of Justice and Victoria Embankment before returning to Mansion House at 2.35pm. There is also a fireworks display on the Thames between Waterloo and Blackfriars at 5pm.

Waldburg Shires are based at Sacrewell Farm & Country Centre, running the new Shire Horse Centre set up by the Shire Horse Society. There are currently 11 Shire Horses at the farm - a number of working horses not seen on the farm since the 1940's.

The Shire Horse Centre aims to promote the breed and to provide training to Shire Horse owners. "The Shire Horse Centre has developed very quickly at the farm with the help of the Shire Horse Society and Waldburg Shires" says Sacrewell's general manager Peter Thompson, "it is great to get the recognition associated with what is probably one of the most prestigious contracts in the Shire Horse world. Sacrewell provides a fantastic backdrop to the magnificent Shire Horses with its heritage buildings and tranquil setting".

At Sacrewell Farm & Country Centre you will find, along with the Shire Horse Centre, friendly farm animals, play areas, a working watermill and farm bygones. With the visitor centre spread over 50 acres you can always enjoy the feeling of space and rural tranquility, whether you have come to visit for the day or are staying on the attractive campsite. Tractor rides around the 550-acre working farm are always popular, or you can walk one of the farm trails.

As with anyone passionate about their interest, Elspeth downplays just how tough it can be to look after these magnificent creatures. "Oh, they're great," she says nonchalantly, "just bigger and heavier, that's all." She does, however, concede that their feathers do require cleaning everyday, but apart from that there's nothing out of the ordinary required. More of her time is taken caring for the ever-increasing number of Shire horses, which the Shire Horse Society is homing at Sacrewell. Just recently, for instance, the centre was proud to welcome a new foal and hopefully, says Elspeth, "there will be many more."

There will be a photo opportunity on the grass in front of the Miller's Country Café at 10am on Sunday 7th October at Sacrewell, when the team of 6 Shires will be training for the big day from 9am, along with the driver, postillion (riding one of the lead horses), brakeman, footman and six walking grooms.

October 2007 - Peterborough UK Community Website

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