What links Michael Portillo, a flock of sheep and one of London’s obscure traditions?
The Great Sheep Drive is a wonderful British tradition dating back hundreds of years, and will see more than 600 Freemen of the City of London take up their historic entitlement to drive their sheep over what was once London’s only river crossing and sole trading route.
This year, the Rt Hon Michael Portillo will be leading the 2019 Sheep Drive over London Bridge. He will be leading a flock of North of England Mules over the bridge, accompanied by the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs.
The quirky event will raise tens of thousands of pounds for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal and The Worshipful Company of Woolmen’s Charity.
This year will also see the addition of a Livery Fair, taking place around the nearby Monument. The fair will give visitors the opportunity to learn more about the Livery Companies of the City as well as specialist British Wool Trades and the opportunity to meet some of their sheep.
Special Walking Tours will also be available for the day, between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, via Monument. These will take in Leadenhall Market which is opening especially for the day. Tours can be booked in advance online.
Part of the Fantastic Feats: The Building of London season of events which celebrates achievements in architecture, invention and engineering in the City of London, this truly quirky event will see many Woolmen don their colourful regalia, whilst some of the attendees will participate in fancy dress.
The event focuses on British wool, and whilst providing a fun family day out, also helps to raise awareness of the countryside in the heart of the City. It is organised and hosted by the Worshipful Company of Woolmen which can trace its roots back to 1180.
Thirty sheep will be provided for the event by a Bedfordshire farmer, with just ten at a time driven across the bridge by successive groups of Freemen. The animals will be under the observation of their usual shepherd at all times and will be closely monitored by representatives of the City of London’s Animal Health and Welfare Service. The RSPCA has approved the plans for the event and have been asked to send an inspector.
When: 29th September 2019
Where: London Bridge
£: Free to watch
More info: sheepdrive.london