Cunard Line has been granted Liverpool’s highest civic award, and celebrated in quite bizarre fashion. Awarded Freedom of the City and admission to the Freedom Roll of Associations, Cunard decided to mark the occasion by driving a flock of sheep through the streets of the famous city this week.
In a week of celebrations, the award also marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of Cunard’s former world headquarters at the Grade II listed building at Pier Head. The Cunard Building was the starting point for the unique celebration, when Cunard director, Angus Struthers and Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Tony Concepcion, herded the flock of sheep along Canada Boulevard.
The Freedom of the City was officially granted to the cruise line aboard flagship, Queen Mary 2, when she was docked at the Liverpool Cruise Terminal last year.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Struthers enthused: “Last year on our 175th anniversary we were very proud to be bestowed the honour of Freedom of the City. One of the ancient rights that gives you is the right to drive sheep through the city. So why not take up that right and use it as way of marking the start of the celebrations of the centenary of this building. The building, as with Liverpool, is embedded in Cunard’s history.”
Driving sheep through the city’s streets is a significant part of the Freedom of the City honour. Dating back to the 13th century, the Freedom of the City was awarded to worthy recipients, indicating they were free to move their livestock through the streets to the market.
Cllr Concepcion added: “It’s not often you see a flock of sheep herded down the Pier Head, but I’m more than happy to be part of the spectacle as we celebrate giving Cunard the highest honour the city can bestow.
“Cunard are part and parcel of this city’s history and the relationship remains strong to this day – we just have to remember the stunning scenes last year as more than a million people gathered to see Three Queens sail majestically up the Mersey.
“Their salute to Liverpool will live long in the memories of those lucky enough to see it, and I’m extremely pleased that such a valued institution as Cunard have been given the Freedom honour.”
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Image credits: John Hickey-Fry