A Brand Apart – The Museum’s Vehicle Team

On 12 July the London Vehicle Team took part in the Worshipful Company of Carmen’s Cart Marking Ceremony, which is held annually in the Guildhall Yard. The ceremony consists of the Master Carman inspecting each vehicle for a charge of five shillings (25p) before branding a special plate attached to the car. This brand originally granted a licence for the vehicle to be used for transporting goods within the famous Square Mile of the City of London – the forerunner of modern vehicle licensing and road tax. It is now a ceremonial occasion, with the plate branded by the Lord Mayor or Master Carmen, using a brazier to heat the branding iron and with gauntlets provided by the Worshipful Company of Glovers.

This year is the 500th anniversary of the Worshipful Company of Carmen and the fifth consecutive year that the Museum has participated in the ceremony. The vehicle received its special ‘500’ brand from the Lord Mayor of London himself, Andrew Parmley, before parading around the City of London and back into Guildhall Yard.

The Vehicle Team decided to take our First World War Hucks Starter out for a spin – which intrigued the crowds viewing the ceremony. Whilst parading around the Square Mile the team were constantly answering the question ‘What is it?’ Developed by Bentfield Hucks at the London Aerodrome towards the end of the First World War, this vehicle was used to start the engines of early aircraft by engaging the propeller. Its use greatly decreased the number of hand and arm injuries resulting from airmen swinging the propeller by hand. This vehicle is based on original 1920’s Ford Model T running gear and decked in its Grahame-White Company Ltd livery. Members of the team who took part on the day were: Ian Corfield, Henry Velleman, George Mason, Bob Rowlands, Tony Rutherford and Mike Sullivan, with London’s Collection Care Officer Charlotte Marriott joining them.