Sheffield Lord Mayor's Parade: Happy memories of when sweets used to be thrown into the crowds

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I recently had the pleasure of speaking to a lady about some of the things she missed in Sheffield. She told me nothing would make her happier than to see the Lord Mayor’s Parade.

Clearly this would be in a different format to how many of us remembered it.

Due to changes in road structure, it would take a different route. Maybe up Ecclesall Road and into Endcliffe Park.

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I wonder if others in Sheffield would also like to see the parade return? From watching some of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations, I firmly believe lots of people enjoy a parade.

The Lord Mayor's Parade makes its way up High Street in June 1968The Lord Mayor's Parade makes its way up High Street in June 1968
The Lord Mayor's Parade makes its way up High Street in June 1968

She went on to say it would be a fabulous opportunity for children to showcase their talents in a way they are not able to do now.

This would be a great platform for other groups, and businesses to show what they are doing.

This reminded me of the parades I saw when I was a child. I loved the Lord Mayor’s Parade, and the Rag Parade.

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One of the things I remember was when the floats passed by, they would throw sweets and freebies such as pens and badges to the crowds. Health and safety might have something to say about that now.

Sheffield Corps of DrumsSheffield Corps of Drums
Sheffield Corps of Drums

I was lucky to take part in a couple of parades when I was a member of a marching band called Sheffield Corps Of Drums, in the 1970s, who, at the time, were national champions.

We had the honour of leading the parade on one occasion.

I always loved to be in, or watch the parade.

I remember in 1982, just after the Falklands conflict, members of the Royal Air Force took part in the parade.

I was watching from the Haymarket balcony in front of British Home Stores.

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When the RAF appeared the crowds were in raptures of appreciation-cheering and clapping at the top of their voices.

The parades came from an idea from the Sheffield Junior Chamber of Commerce and the first one was in 1964. It was a very successful parade, completely self financed.

The 1969 parade, with an entry of 69 floats and 15 marching bands, was deemed the most successful parade – this was serious business.

Firms would meticulously plan and make their floats throughout the year.

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These displays would be mounted on flat bed lorries ready for the start of the parade.

Prizes would be presented to the best float on the day.

The event was huge, in the region of 300,000 Sheffielders turned out to see the parade, even getting fly pasts from the Royal Air Force, from nearby RAF Finningley base.

In my time the parade, as I remember it, started at the old Thomas Ward Stockyard, also called Fiery Jack, at the junction of Spital Hill and Saville Street, close to the Wicker Arches.

I remember the route started from Wicker Arches along the Wicker over Lady’s bridge, past the Haymarket, turning right up Commercial Street, negotiating the long-gone Hole in the Road, up the High Street, along Leopold Street, past the Town Hall were the Mayor waited to take the salute of all participants, ending at the bottom of the Moor.

But although initially very popular, the parades went into decline in later years, and ceased in the mid 1990s. Maybe now it is time for their return.