Be Part of Something Historic
A great family day out in support of two fantastic causes. All proceeds from the annual Sheep Drive & Livery Fair support the Woolmen’s Company Charitable Trust and Lord Mayor’s Appeal.
Both events are always attended by a special guest as with 2021, Amanda Owen, The Yorkshire Shepherdess and the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman William Russell.
There are probably as many theories and legends about the right to drive sheep over London Bridge as there are livery companies. The original Guilds controlled standards of work and the suitability of tradesmen to be apprenticed to a master.
In medieval times, sheep farmers drove their sheep across London Bridge into the City of London to sell them at market. Freemen of the City were excused the bridge toll that had to be paid by other people crossing the bridge, in recognition of their status as local traders.
It is not clear when the last sheep were driven across London Bridge to market, but the widespread introduction of motorised vehicles in the early 20th century would have signalled the end of the practice, if it had not already ceased. The tradition of driving sheep across London Bridge has regained interest in recent years.
Upholding the tradition of Freemen’s rights, in 2013 the Worshipful Company of Woolmen arranged the first official Sheep Drive for Freemen of the City and their guests to ‘drive’ sheep across the bridge. The event has been so successful that it has continued ever since, with places selling out every year!
Various wool related fairs and activities have taken place alongside the Sheep Drive over the years. More recently and due its growing popularity the Livery Fair has been located at the prestigious landmark, the Monument, adjacent to London Bridge.
In 2021 the Sheep Drive and Livery Fair was situated together on historic Southwark Bridge (ideally located between St Paul’s Cathedral north side and Shakespeare’s Globe on the Southbank). The bridge was closed to traffic for the day, which opened up endless opportunities for a wonderful day out for the whole family.
Whilst being an integral part of the day for supporters of the Sheep Drive, the Livery Fair also enables a number of the 110 City of London Liveries to showcase to the public what they do and the charitable work they support, with skilled tradespeople conducting interactive demonstrations of their specialist areas.
The Livery Fair also brings together a number of traders, from those selling wool based products, textiles, arts and crafts, quality gifts and food & drink.
In 2021, public entry to the Livery Fair and close up viewing of the Sheep Drive (a rare and wonderful opportunity afforded by the full closure of the bridge) was Free of Charge!
The Woolmen’s Charitable Trust
The objects of the Woolmen’s Company Charitable Trust are:
To promote the wool industry and interest in wool, wool products, sheep farming, shearing, wool production and textiles and design; research into appropriate veterinary procedures and practices; education relevant to the wool industry; and to promote the City of London in general and the Livery movement in particular.
Wool Innovation Prize
The Worshipful Company of Woolmen and The Company of Merchants of the Staple of England have initiated a prize in the UK for innovation in the use and application of wool. This is open to any individual who works with wool. The prize is supported by the Campaign for Wool:
⦁ Awarded Annually
⦁ Application has to be innovative and commercially viable
⦁ Apparel or non-apparel applications
⦁ £10,000 prize
⦁ Annual Closing date is 30th June
For further details and applications please visit: www.woolinnovationprize.com
Other academic awards are made to students studying veterinary procedures and systems in support of sheep welfare; and the use of wool, textiles, fashion and design. Currently we support courses at Heriot Watt, Huddersfield, the Scottish Agricultural College and Harper Adams, but this list is under regular review.
Shearing Medals and Prizes are awarded by the Master at the five major UK agricultural shows; the Royal Ulster Show, the Bath and West Show, the Great Yorkshire Show, the Royal Highland Show and the Royal Welsh Show.
Legacies and Donations
Please contact the Clerk if you would like to leave a legacy to The Trust or make charitable donations.
Visit www.woolmen.com for more information about the Woolmen and the Charitable Trust.
The Lord Mayor’s Appeal
Helping 1 million people thrive – The Lord Mayor’s Appeal aims to find solutions to London’s most pressing societal issues. Its multi-year strategy works on four key pillars to create a city that is:
Inclusive, Healthy, Skilled, Fair.
Visit the www.lordmayorsappeal.org to find out more.