The Lord Mayor on Christopher Wren, the Old Dr. Butler’s Head and why he admires Willie Purves

Thursday, January 26, 2023 6:00 a.m

The Lord Mayor Nicholas Lyons at the Lord Mayor’s Show last year

Each week we dive back into the memory of the city’s great and good. This week it’s the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Nicholas Lyons.

what was your first job
Leading people to their seats at the Royal Dublin Show. An elderly lady tipped me five pounds which was a lot of money at the time!

First job in finance?
In the early 1980s I got a job with the Morgan Guaranty Trust in New York – and I was based in Manhattan for their graduate program. It was basically the core finance part of an MBA, and I loved it.

When did you know that the city was the right place for you?
Pretty much as soon as I came back from that time in New York. I loved it straight away.

What do you love about the City of London?
One thing that stands out is the architecture. We are celebrating the 300th anniversary of Sir Christopher Wren’s death this year and his churches in particular really bring the city together. Finance surrounds us all day long, but the architecture is also a reminder of the spiritual side of life.

…and one thing you would change?
Getting around is still a challenge! So maybe we could reschedule deliveries after hours to make sure we can move around town a little quicker.

What surprised you about becoming mayor?
Maybe it’s because when you invite someone over, the answer is invariably yes. This role grants exceptional access and enlistment power that is critical to advancing the city’s agenda.

And how do you feel about the pomp and ceremony?
There are moments that make you look down on the sometimes odd outfits – which I have to wear quite often – but really it’s about being a continuum of the story. I’m the 694th Lord Mayor, Rector of City University, Admiral of the Port of London and no doubt other titles I haven’t discovered yet, but this is really more about passing the flame than celebrating the ashes.

You choose the restaurant for lunch – where do we go?
I live my life between the Guildhall and the Mansion House and my favorite along the way is the French restaurant Cabotte on Gresham Street.

And for a quick drink after work?
I don’t go to the pub very often these days! But certainly in my younger years I liked the Old Dr. Butler’s Head on Masons Avenue.

Who do you admire most?
In the past I think it was former HSBC boss Sir Willie Purves. A powerful, honest Scotsman and he really managed to turn HSBC into a truly global bank by guiding it through the acquisition of Midland Bank. In today’s city I would say Sir Nigel Wilson of Legal and General.

Where is home during the week?
Well it’s here at the Mansion House now!

And where could we meet you at the weekend?
Home really is North Norfolk so I will be walking our three English Spaniels there.

You have two weeks off – where are you going and who are you going with?
We drive to the West Indies – to the island of Nevis and the Montpellier Plantation Hotel. My wife and I have been going there for 35 years. It is our sanctuary.

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