I was walking towards Bank Station this evening when behind me I heard what sounded like a flute playing. It’s quite an unique sound so I turned around and behind two police horse riders were a squad of men slow marching behind a man that looked a little like the Pied Piper of Hamlin. To his left was a drummer keeping the beat.

The men were dressed in tradional red uniform with armour plates on their chest. Some of the men were holding pikes (a long pole with a spike on the end), while the others at the back of the squad were holding old style Matchlocks.

The matchlock was the first mechanism or “lock” invented to facilitate the firing of a hand-held firearm. This design removed the need to lower by hand a lit match into the weapon’sflash pan and made it possible to have both hands free to keep a firm grip on the weapon at the moment of firing, and, more important, to keep both eyes on the target.

The main disadvantage of the matchlock was the time it took to reload after each shot. To solve this problem, musketeers in the front line fired their matchlocks and then they retired to the back to reload.

The pikeman carried pikes that were between twelve and eighteen feet long. When the enemy employed a cavalry charge, the musketeers sheltered behind and between the pikemen. During the cavalry charge the pikemen aimed their pikes at the chests of the oncoming horses.

Something was definitely going on, because behind the Pikemen & Musketeers were a few fancy cars, a Bentley and one very large black Rolls Royce. Normally the number plate is a give away, but this one had normal letters GCX 342J, so it wasn’t immediately obvious. It turns out that one of the duties of the Pikemen & Musketeers is to escort the Lord Major to civic functions. So there is the answer I think! I didn’t catch a glimpse of the Lord Major, but it was wonderful display of history.

The Company of Pikemen and Musketeers are veteran members of the Honourable Artillery Company, the oldest regiment in the British Army.

The HAC can trace its history as far back as 1296, and received a Royal Charter from Henry VIII on 25 August 1537.

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The 1st, 4th & 5th photos and video were taken using my Nokia N900 ūüôā

The main disadvantage of the matchlock was the time it took to reload after each shot. To solve this problem, musketeers in the front line fired their matchlocks and then they retired to the back to reload.