Silver chain for Lord Mayor because gold costs too much

THE Lord Mayor of Hull will soon be wearing a silver chain of office because of the prohibitive costs of making a gold replacement for the existing regalia.

The original, which has been worn by the city's first citizen since the middle of the 16th century, is described as "fragile" and is in such a decrepit condition that it will soon be beyond repair.

Hull Council's Civic Committee voted yesterday for the cheapest option as a replacement – a handmade silver gilt version that will cost at least 7,750.

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According to quotes given last year by civic regalia manufacturers Vaughtons, the most expensive replacement – a handmade nine-carat gold replica – would cost 17,220.

The authority must now decide how to fund the replacement as it only allocates 2,000 a year for the purchase of civic regalia.

Options ruled out were die-stamped replacements costing 14,920 in gold, or 9,200 in silver.

The chain was originally given to the holder of the office in 1554 or 1564 by Alderman Sir William Knowles, who was mayor in 1525 and 1534.

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The chain has altered slightly in weight and design over the years and was described in an inventory of 1604 as having 318 links and weighing just over 15oz.

Portraits of mayors between the 16th and early 19th centuries show the chain to consist of plain oval links worn in two rows. A jewel was added in 1857 and this now forms an ornate gold medallion surrounding three gold coronets on an enamel blue background. A second, similar medallion of coronets hangs below.

A gold anchor set in enamel blue – signifying the mayor's role as Admiral of the Humber – is worn over both shoulders.

The replacement will be used for everyday use, the original being reserved for special occasions such as Royal visits.

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Budget constraints also led the committee to vote to keep the existing civic cars used by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, which are both Rover 75s.

The Mayor's car is hired at a weekly rate of 241, or just over 12,500 a year, while the deputy mayor's vehicle costs 118 per week.

A report to the committee said: "Retaining the existing civic cars will maintain costs at current levels and contribute towards savings in future years."

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