Cart Marking Ceremony: See Dozens Of Vintage Vehicles In Guildhall Yard This July

By Jun Li

Last Updated 28 May 2024

Cart Marking Ceremony: See Dozens Of Vintage Vehicles In Guildhall Yard This July
An old fire cart ridden by firefighters in retro uniform
Just like the old days. Image: The Worshipful Company of Carmen

A historic ceremony harking back centuries takes place in the City on 20 July 2024 — with the chance to see a slew of vintage vehicles roll into Guildhall Yard.

The Cart Marking ceremony — hosted by the City of London and the Worshipful Company of Carmen — first began around 500 years ago, as a form of vehicle licensing. After the owner had paid for a licence, a mark would be burnt onto their wooden cart, signalling it was officially certified.

The cart marker and the driver of a large, green truck interact.
One of the carts from 2021. Image: The Worshipful Company of Carmen

Even today, all vehicles passing through Guildhall Arch still pay 'five shillings' (25p) to the City of London, in honour of the tradition. A red hot iron brand is used as part of the ceremony, although it's pressed onto a block of wood attached to the vehicle, rather than the chassis itself.

A bicycle getting marked at the Cart Marking Ceremony.
A bicycle getting marked. Image: The Worshipful Company of Carmen

Vehicles are no longer limited to wooden carts of course; expect to see horse-drawn carriages, steam engines, fire engines, vans, ambulances, bicycles... even electric cars. It is essentially a timeline on wheels — and quite the show.

A bright green shipping truck
Image: The Worshipful Company of Carmen
A group of people, including two dressed in traditional robes, smiling in front of a cart.
Got a feeling the officials are going ton be a tad sweaty. Image: The Worshipful Company of Carmen

Over 50 vehicles will feature in 2024's festivities; in turn they'll be greeted by the City's top brass, including the Lord Mayor of London, masters from two different City of London Livery companies, and the Keeper of Guildhall Yard — all dressed in traditional robes.

An old handcart, with signage showing it's from Peckham
Image: The Worshipful Company of Carmen

As each vehicle is marked with the iron brand, a commentator provides a brief history.

A retro ambulance
Is it us or did ambulances used to look much cooler? Image: The Worshipful Company of Carmen
A dark blue Bedford truck
Image: The Worshipful Company of Carmen

In 2022, the parade featured one of the late Queen's official cars (a 1952 Royal Rolls Royce Phantom IV) and the 1948 Morris Commercial LC3 and 1926 Albion — which were two of the only commercial vehicles to drive through the Channel Tunnel on its opening day in 1994. No news yet on what to expect this year, but it's sure to be a wheely eclectic mix.

Here's a video of the ceremony from 2022:

Cart Marking ceremony, Guildhall, City of London, Saturday 20 July 2024, 10am-3pm, free entry