The Lord Mayor and “Harlequin” launch this year’s London Bridge Sheep Drive

Organised for charity by the Worshipful Company of Woolmen

On-line Bookings now Open!

Sunday 25th September 2022
Charity Sheep Drive – for Freemen, family and friends: taking place on London Bridge
Livery Fair – open to all and free to enter: at The Monument

See ewe there!

Calling all Freemen; book your place now for yourself, your family and your friends for the 2022 London Bridge Sheep Drive. Children are most welcome!
The Lord Mayor, also a Woolman, welcomed an unusual visitor to Mansion House to officially declare that the Worshipful Company of Woolmen’s Sheep Drive is open for bookings. “Harlequin”, a crossbreed ewe from the Woodlands Farm Trust, a City Farm, accompanied the Master of the Worshipful Company of Woolmen, Peter Hullah, and distinguished guests. This ewe-nique annual City event will be held on London Bridge in 2022 with a magnificent Livery Fair at The Monument.

Sheep Drive: London Bridge
Freemen can book there places on the drive here. Over 1,000 Freemen are expected to exercise their ancient right to drive sheep to market over the Thames, toll-free. This great livery occasion will once again be in aid of the Woolmen’s Charity and Lord Mayor’s Appeal. Hurry as bookings have previously quickly sold out!

Livery Fair: The Monument, Free to enter
Join us at the wonderful Livery Fair, located at the north end of London Bridge on the piazza adjacent to The Monument – one of the City’s most loved visitor attractions. Livery and specialist wool companies will be celebrating their trades and crafts with interactive displays and sale of their wares. Other fun activities will include expert blade shearing displays and some wonderful rare breed sheep!

Peter Hullah, Master, Worshipful Company of Woolmen:
“This eagerly-anticipated charity event in the Livery calendar returns to London Bridge for 2022. The Woolmen organise our unique charity fundraising event for all Freemen of the City of London, their families and friends. We look forward to welcoming many livery company members to drive sheep over the Thames and to join us for a marvellous Livery Fair at The Monument. This is sure to be a vibrant and fun day out in the City with the chance to delve into the fascinating history of the livery trades, alongside wonderful wool stalls and even a few sheep… A fantastic family day out.”

The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor, Vincent Keaveny:
As Lord Mayor and also a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Woolmen, I am delighted to be taking part in this year’s Sheep Drive and visiting the Livery Fair. I would like to thank the Freemen, Livery Companies, The Campaign for Wool and all our sponsors raising funds for the Woolmen’s Charity and Lord Mayor’s Appeal. The Sheep Drive and Livery Fair remind us all that the link between City and Wool remains as important to us today as it has ever been.”

Peter Ackroyd MBE, COO, The Campaign for Wool:
“Wool is widely recognised as one of the most sustainable and versatile fibres in the world and is as relevant to the very fabric of society today as it has ever been – whether for personal attire and home use or for its many fascinating 21st Century industrial and construction uses.” www.campaignforwool.org

About Harlequin and the Woodlands Farm Trust.
Harlequin, named for her half-black, half-white face, is a crossbreed ewe who would normally be chewing the cud at a 36-hectare working city farm between Greenwich and Bexley with cattle, sheep, pigs and hens. As well as being open to the public six days a week, the Trust has over 4,000 educational visits a year and runs a weekend club for 11 to 18-year-olds. Three full-time employees, and 60 volunteers help run the farm.
David Jones, Farm Manager, Woodlands Farm Trust:
“City farms are important; they can show the urban population the origin of food on their plate and also in our case first-hand experience on how farming can work with nature.”

The Yorkshire Shepherdess to lead City of London Annual SHEEP DRIVE

The Yorkshire Shepherdess, Amanda Owen, swaps the Yorkshire Dales for the day, to drive sheep over the river Thames, re-enacting an ancient tradition in support of the Worshipful Company of Woolmen’s Charitable Trust and Lord Mayor’s Appeal. Photo: courtesy of Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

Best-selling author of four books and star of Channel 5’s “Our Yorkshire Farm”, Amanda will be swapping her 2000 acre hill farm in Swaledale, North Yorkshire, one of the most remote places in England, for the City of London for the day, on Sunday 26th September. Amanda will accompany the Lord Mayor of London, The Right Honourable William Russell, and hundreds of the City’s Freemen, becoming river shepherds for the day to practice their ancient “right” to drive sheep over the Thames and into the City.  

Now into its 9th year, hosted by the Worshipful Company of Woolmen, the 2021 Sheep Drive and Livery Fair will take place on historic Southwark Bridge, which will be traffic-free for the day. 

The accompanying Livery Fair will include many Liveries demonstrating their skills from trades, ancient and modern, alongside a range of wool related stalls selling products that showcase the enduring relevance of wool as a sustainable and versatile material. Along with other interactive displays and food and drinks stalls, this will be a wonderful family day out over the majestic Thames.

Alderman Sir David Wootton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Woolmen said:

“We are delighted to welcome Amanda Owen to shepherd our sheep expertly over Southwark Bridge. As we re-enact this ancient tradition, amidst Livery Fair displays, I’m sure the Livery’s long-standing contribution to the fabric of the City and wider community through trade and philanthropy will resonate with us all. Wool, with its the enduring and sustainable qualities, being just one of those trades, is as relevant to our needs today as it was centuries ago.”

Amanda Owen, The Yorkshire Shepherdess said:

“When the Sheep Drive & Livery Fair invited me to be their guest, saying yes was an easy decision to make. This event is so prestigious to be involved in, one which carries years of history and I’m so proud to be able to lead the first drive of sheep across Southwark Bridge on 26thSeptember. Sheep are central to my life and this celebration of them will be a day to remember.”

Commenting on behalf of headline Sponsors, Campaign for Wool, Peter Ackroyd, COO said:

“Campaign for Wool is delighted to support the Sheep Drive which aligns with the start of the all-important Autumn/Winter wool retail season in London and across the UK. The Sheep Drive is a perfect curtain raiser for ‘Wool Week’ starting on the 4 October through to the end of October highlighting key wool product launches and wool collections across the home and fashion sectors with brands and retailers throughout the UK. This year the focus will be on ‘Feel Better #ChooseWool’ and how through choosing wool you feel emotionally better that you have made the right choice for the planet, sleep better and can take comfort in wool’s natural safety credentials in the home and office environment.”

Following the Postponement of the 2020 Sheep Drive, we are delighted to announce that the Sheep Drive & Livery Fair is planned to take place on 26th September 2021 on Southwark Bridge

We will observe the Government Coronavirus Guidelines and we will ensure that the event will conform to the guidelines which are in place at the time. Should Government guidelines change after we have opened the online bookings, we will keep you informed of how we will implement any changes.

You will be required to follow all legitimate instructions from the security staff, marshals, organisers and trained sheep-handlers at all times for the benefit of your safety and health and safety.

It will be a privilege to join others in celebrating the Re-opening of London after a very challenging year.

We thank you in advance for your support.

We advise you to contact our booking page, online, and make reservations to Drive Sheep on Southwark Bridge. Freemen and your guests are very welcome. It will without a doubt be a very special and memorable day.  

Meanwhile, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at: sheepdriveteamenquiries@woolmen.com

Peter Hullah
Chair of the Charity Committee and Sheep Drive/Livery Fair Team
Upper Warden Worshipful Company of Woolmen

Twitter: @SheepDriveLDN 
Instagram: Sheepdriveldn
Facebook: TheWorshipfulCompanyofWoolmen

Coronavirus Update: Postponement to Sept 2021

Sheep Drive & Livery Fair planned for September 27th 2020 – Postponed to 2021

We hope all of our friends and supporters are keeping safe and well during these challenging times.

As you would expect, the organising committee of the Sheep Drive and Livery Fair have been closely monitoring developments and consulting widely about arrangements for our events this year.

Our aim has always been to deliver an event that is a safe, fun day out, celebrating the ancient tradition of a Freeman’s right to drive their sheep to market over London Bridge, tariff-free, and through this unique event, raise funds for the Woolmen’s Charitable Trust and Lord Mayor’s Appeal.

It is with considerable regret that we have decided to postpone the planned Sheep Drive and Livery Fair on Sunday 27th September, which this year was due to take place on Southwark Bridge, allowing for essential works taking place on London Bridge.

We have looked at different models for running the Sheep Drive, abiding by government approved social distancing and safety guidelines for gatherings in public spaces and outdoor activities. Sadly, our view is that these would require us to limit numbers significantly and also alter the format of the day to such an extent that it would impact participants’ enjoyment and the additional costs involved reduce the overall charitable contribution we can make from the event.

We are mindful that Government guidelines continue to evolve, however, in order to allow for essential planning time, including that of all of our fantastic volunteers and supporters, we feel that the decision on this September’s event needs to be taken now. Hopefully this also mitigates against the potential risk of a short notice cancellation if stricter measures were to be reintroduced.

New Date for your Diary: 26th September 2021!

We know that many of you will be equally as disappointed as we are. However, we hope you will be delighted to hear that this means that we are now turning our minds fully to planning for a fantastic Sheep Drive and Livery Fair on the 26th September 2021, when we can all look forward to an amazing day.

We thank you for your continuing support and we very much look forward to remaining in contact with you as we plan for 2021. Meanwhile, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at: sheepdriveteamenquiries@woolmen.com

Watch this space… In the meantime, we will keep you updated regarding arrangements for booking in 2021. Also check out our social media where we will be following the stories of the team – that’s both two legged and four – as we launch our plans, with some updates and nuggets of news along the way!

Peter Hullah
Chair of the Charity Committee and Sheep Drive/Livery Fair Team
Upper Warden Worshipful Company of Woolmen

Twitter: @SheepDriveLDN
Instagram: Sheepdriveldn
Facebook: TheWorshipfulCompanyofWoolmen

Sheep Drive 2019 Photographs

Thank you to everyone who joined the Sheep Drive and end enjoyed the Livery Fair 2019.

Led by the Lord Mayor and The Rt Hon Michael Portillo, over 600 people drove sheep and over 70 livery companies were represented on the Bridge. 

The huge sum of money raised will be used for charitable purposes supported by the Woolmen’s charities and the Lord Mayor’s charities.

Gerald Sharp took many photographs on the day. To see these and order photographs please go to https://sharpphoto.co.uk/f662325182

Thank you. The Sheep Drive and Livery Fair Team

The Rt. Hon Michael Portillo

Michael Portillo
Michael Portillo

The Rt Hon Michael Portillo will be our Celebrity Guest opening the Sheep Drive on 29th September 2019.

Michael is excited at the prospect of moving from driving engines to driving sheep.

Alan Titchmarsh MBE opened the Sheep Drive on 30th September 2018

Alan exchanged his trusty trowel and spade for a shepherd’s crook and put his many skills to good use in driving sheep over London Bridge.  After working as a gardener in a nursery in his native Yorkshire, Alan Titchmarsh trained and subsequently taught at Kew Gardens before becoming a journalist – first as a gardening books editor and then on gardening magazines.  He began broadcasting on BBC Radio 4 in 1977 and has not been off the airwaves ever since.  Alan went freelance in the late 1970s, earning his living by writing for newspapers and magazines and by broadcasting. He became a regular on Radio 4 and subsequently on Radio 2.  His first television appearance was on BBC Nationwide in 1979 which led to a regularly weekly appearance on Nationwide until moving to BBC Breakfast Time in 1984 where his brief was expanded to cover the British countryside as well as gardening. 

            In 1986 he was asked to diversify even further by presenting Open Air from BBC Manchester, and the following year he began a ten-year stint at Pebble Mill in Birmingham where he hosted a magazine programme which eventually became a chat show.  Since then he has appeared on Songs of Praise, Gardeners’ World and the record-breaking Ground Force (12 million viewers) which established Alan as a household name, and he was instrumental in designing and making a garden in South Africa for Nelson Mandela.

Alan writes for such diverse publications as Amateur Gardening, BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, Homes and Gardens, Country Life, The Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph.  Over the last forty years Alan has written more than fifty gardening books, several books on the countryside and other subjects as varied as The Queen’s houses and a Christmas anthology. He has also penned three volumes of memoirs. In 1998 he wrote his first novel – Mr MacGregor.  Another nine novels followed and all ten have made the Sunday Times Bestseller List.

            British Isles, a Natural History and The Nature of Britain were landmark series made for BBC1 and since then Alan has appeared on ITV in his own chat show: The Alan Titchmarsh Show, Love Your Garden, and Masterpiece.  He presented The BBC Proms for four years and has compered the Windsor pageants for Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and 90th birthday celebrations.  He also presents Secrets of the National Trust on Channel 5 and in 2018 his debut album of poetry, accompanied by Debbie Wiseman’s music, The Glorious Garden, went to number one in the Classical Music Charts.

            He is Chancellor of the University of Winchester, a Freeman of the City of London, Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire, the recipient of four honorary degrees, a Vice-President of the Royal Horticultural Society and a holder of the society’s highest award – the Victoria Medal of Honour.  He was appointed MBE in the millennium New Year Honours list, was High Sheriff of The Isle of Wight in 2008-9 and is president or patron of more than forty charities.  He considers himself a very lucky man and puts his ability to multi-task down to having a tolerant wife and enjoying a good night’s sleep.

Mary Berry opened Sheep Drive 2017

Mary Berry CBE opened the 2017 sheep drive across London Bridge and the wool fair on Sunday 24th September.

Mary Berry

Mary Berry opened the 2017 Sheep Drive across London Bridge and Wool Fair at Monument on Sunday 24th September.  Accompanied by her grandchildren, Abbi and Hobie, she led the way with the Master Woolman, Chris Thierry, and showed she knew a thing or two about sheep.  As the drive started, one or two sheep decided they might try and go back to their pen, but Mary showed everyone how to use a shepherd’s crook to get them back on track and heading for Southwark.

The well-known cook, food writer and television presenter is a Freeman of the City of London and soon had the sheep under control. The Great British Bake Off judge exchanged her apron and food mixer for a woollen suit and a shepherd’s crook for the occasion.

She was joined during the day by 600 other Freemen who drove the sheep back and forth across the bridge in relays, exercising their ancient right, and raising over £26,000 for charity in the process.  Mary said: “The sheep were exceedingly well-behaved. I think they have done it before.  A lot of people are here who will never have seen sheep other than a roast lamb on a Sunday.” Mary certainly put paid to the old show biz adage about not working with children or animals!  Thank ewe, Mary!

Mary Berry’s career has encompassed a wide variety of experience including radio, television and writing books. Best known recently for the wonderful BBC series of The Great British Bake Off, which has run for seven years.

She has received many awards for cooking, baking and television programmes; and for her books. In 2014 she became a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Bakers and then a Freeman of the City of London.

She was appointed CBE in 2012 Birthday Honours and the same year was awarded an honorary degree by Bath Spa University; and she has Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Guild of Food Writers, Aga Rayburn and Observer Food Monthly.

Nigel Mansell joins the 2016 Sheep Drive

Nigel Mansell CBE started the 2016 Sheep Drive across London Bridge in style with his grandson Jai helping out.  

They were followed by 600 Freemen of the City including the Sheriffs, the Chamberlain, the Master Woolmen and his Wardens and representatives from most of the Livery Companies of the City.

The many people who came in their City robes and fancy dress brightened up the bridge and the City, and fortunately it was another sunny day.