Making a splash at the 800th Lord Mayor’s Show

Illustrated London News made a proud contribution to the 800th anniversary of the Lord Mayor’s Show this year, creating a brand-new look and approach for the official Show Programme.

24 Nov 2015

by Andrew Hearn

The publication hit the streets during Saturday’s procession, where ILN’s programme sellers lined the parade route and met the crowds.

The show itself was accompanied by strong emotions, opening with a two-minute silence to mark the terrorist attack in Paris the evening before. Spectators and participants turned out in force on the day, in a show of support for public life and civic celebration.

Beginning in 1215, the Lord Mayor’s Show is perhaps the greatest unbroken tradition in Britain. Through the Black Death in 1348, the Great Fire of London of 1666 and the Blitz in 1940, the Lord Mayor’s Show has continuously and spectacularly paid tribute to the livery companies and the City of London while celebrating the newly elected Lord Mayor.


Illustrated London News shares a long history with the show, dating from the world-famous newspaper’s first issue. Launched in 1842, the paper’s iconic masthead featured the River Thames on Lord Mayor’s Day with the river procession passing by St Paul’s Cathedral. Throughout the 19th century, it brought the Lord Mayor’s Show to the rest of the world and in the 1970s briefly took over production of the show’s programmes. This year saw a fitting return to tradition with ILN producing the programme once again, in this special 800th anniversary year.

For this year’s commemorative cover, Sir Peter Blake of Sgt Pepper fame designed a visual tapestry of the procession through time, using historic and modern imagery, including visuals from ILN’s historic archive. “We went to the archives to look up the sort of things that happened in the parade centuries ago,” said Sir Peter, “the people and the creatures — and then magazines such as the Illustrated London News, which always had drawings of it.”

The cover also showcases the historic Doves typeface – which was lost to the Thames in a printers’ dispute more than a century ago and recovered this year.

Lord Mayor's Show programme cover 2015

The programme cover, designed by Sir Peter Blake

Inside, the programme features an introduction by Melvyn Bragg reflecting on the show’s history, as well as interviews with the new Lord Mayor Jeffery Mountevans, his Sherrifs Charles Bowman and Christine Rigden, and other key people behind the scenes.

This beautiful, comprehensive programme, compiled by the team at ILN, provides a thoughtful historical commentary on special aspects of the show’s past and is a worthy memento of this great anniversary.

Souvenir copies of the programme can be ordered from the ILN online shop.

800th lord mayors show float

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