Dining in Melbourne

As the turn of the year tends to be a quiet time for Livery Companies, the Consort and I took a few weeks off to visit our family in Sydney, Australia.  

When we plan these visits, we try to arrange a visit to a part of the country that we had not previously visited, and so it was we found ourselves in Melbourne for a few days in January with an invitation to dine with Liveryman Brenda Upton-Kemp.  Brenda spends six months of the year in Melbourne enjoying the Aussie summer, and six months in the UK enjoying the British summer. 

Brenda is a wonderful and lavish hostess and we spent a most enjoyable evening chatting about her time as Mistress to Past Master Eric Upton-Kemp, and her life with second husband Paddy, who was well known and beloved by all in the Tylers and Bricklayers. 

This was a wonderful occasion and will stay in our memories for many years to come.

Dining with the Beadles

David Wylie has been the Beadle for the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers for quite some years, and so it was that we were delighted to hear that he had been appointed Chairman of the City of London Beadles’ Guild, and a party of Tylers and Bricklayers attended his Installation Dinner at Carpenters Hall on Friday, 25thJanuary.

Cook and Butler provided an excellent meal and after the meal had ended the ceremony of the Loving Cup took place.  David’s two granddaughters looked most bemused by the Ceremony and were helped through it by Past Master Cook!

In his speech David admitted it was very strange sitting at the head of the table, instead of standing behind the principal host, and was most welcoming to all who attended the event. Past Master Tyler and Bricklayer Roger Westbrook responded to the Toast to the Guests with his usual aplomb regaling guests with stories from his diplomatic days comparing his life as Assistant to an Ambassador to a Beadle.  

Principal Guest, Alderman Tim Hailes proposed the toast to the Guild and thanked them for all their work in the City.

Lunch with the Judges

I was delighted to be invited by Sheriff The Honorable Liz Green to attend a lunch with the Judges at the Old Bailey on the 3rdof December.

On arrival at the Bailey I was shown to the Sheriff’s Chambers and was joined by a number of guests and Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli, who had just finished his term of office as Master World Trader.

Over lunch I was intrigued to learn of the life of a Judge and the sort of cases they presided over at the Bailey.  At the time the cases in the Courts involved ranged from a stolen handbag up to murder. The judges explained that they had to try to become immune to some of the sights and sounds they heard but that, on occasion, it could be very difficult.

After lunch I sat in on a case as an observer.

Carols at St Margaret Lothbury

I always consider that Christmas begins as we attend the Carol Service at St Margaret Lothbury.

When I talked to Honorary Freeman Richard Townend about which carols to have at the Service I was keen to make sure they were all our favourite carols and would link in with the readings during the Service.  

The Choir at St Margaret are behind and above the congregation and, to my mind, have the voices of angels!  As they sang Stille Nacht I couldn’t help remembering my childhood Christmases and the wonder of Christmas!

A new life for Robert Browne!


The final element of the 450thCharter Anniversary Commemorations concerned a portrait of Tyler and Bricklayer Clerk Robert Browne painted by Mason Chamberlin a member of the Royal Academy.  Robert Browne was Clerk to the Company from 1766 to 1791 having been Beadle before that. He must have been very well thought of to have a portrait painted by Mason Chamberlin, and history records that the portrait was displayed at the Royal Academy.  

After the Anniversary exhibition closed the portrait was restored by fine art restorer Simon Folkes and the frame by gilder and restorer Bruce Francis, and the portrait has proven to be more valuable than originally thought.

Careful consideration had to be given to the next part the portrait would play in the life of the Tylers and Bricklayers, and I was delighted that Guildhall Club agreed to display it on a long-term loan basis for all to enjoy for many years to come. Guildhall Committee Member, Chris Hayward accepted the portrait on behalf of the Club.

Plaisterers’ Company Training Awards Lunch

The beautiful livery Hall of the Worshipful Company of Plaisterers’ played host to the annual Training Awards Luncheon on 20thNovember 2018.  Awards were presented to colleges, trainees and apprentices. A lifetime achievement award was also presented.

The event was hosted by Master Plaisterer and awards presented by the Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor Peter Estlin.  MC for the event was Alan Deadicoat who was presented with his own copy of the Plaisterers’ Company “bible” on plastering as a souvenir of the occasion.

Lord Mayor’s Address 

All Livery Masters were called to Mansion House on 21stNovember to hear an address by the Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor Peter Estlin.

Rather than an address, this year’s event took the form of a question and answer session hosted by Chairman of the Livery Committee Vicky Russell.  Also taking part was the Town Clerk.

The Lord Mayor talked about his hopes for his term of office. He said he would promote his 'shaping tomorrow's City today' programme, which promotes three key areas – innovation and technology, digital skills, and addressing social inclusion.

A New Freeman of the City

Malcolm and I were invited to attend the installation of John Szymanski as a Freeman of the City of London on 22 November.

This is a very special ceremony that takes place in the Chamberlains Room at Guildhall.  John Szymanski had been a Freeman of the Company for quite some time, but living in Melbourne Australia meant arranging the Ceremony a bit difficult.  John has now returned to the UK and we joined Deputy Master David and Hilary Szymanksi, Upper Warden Michel and Maureen Saminaden, family and friends.

After swearing an Oath and signing the declaration John was given an introduction to other Freemen of the City past and present.

The Circle of Life!

Whilst it may be only two months since the Sheriffs were installed, the election process for their replacements is already underway.  Chris Hayward, Past Master Pattern Maker, had announced he would seek election as Non-Aldermanic Sheriff at Common Hall in June 2019.

The first of his Hustings took place at Armourers’ Hall where Chris, his wife and chairman of his election team spoke to all present.

As I write this piece for the blog there are rumours of a second person seeking election; time will tell!

Building Crafts College Prize Giving

Immediately after the Hustings I departed for Carpenters’ Hall to attend the annual Graduation and Prize Giving for students from the Building Craft College.

In the past eighteen months a bricklaying course had been re-instated so the Company had donated a prize of £250 to the College for one of their bricklaying students.  Naseem Larosi was awarded Bricklaying Apprentice of the Year and Chris Causer, Chairman of the Craft Committee, were delighted to meet Naseem after the Ceremony.  Naseem told us that he was already working as a Bricklayer, but hoped to complete NVQ Level 2 very soon, and return to BCC to take NVQ Level 3.  

All hail the Royal Engineers!

I had the honour of being invited to the inaugural Royal Engineer Awards at the Institute of Civil Engineers on 28thNovember.  The Awards celebrated the work of the Engineers and were split into several categories; individual endeavour, trade skills, academic achievements and support to operations.

As l listened to the citations, I was reminded of the work of this very special part of the Army which not only included construction, but also operations such as the nerve agent incident in Salisbury, ordinance disposal and rebuilding in the Caribbean post Hurricane Irma.

The highest Award of the evening was the Kitchener Award presented to Major Marsh, 39 Engineer Regiment for supporting his subordinates and being a role model during an 18-month continuous deployment to a remote part of the Falkland Islands.

The Award with the most intriguing name was the Windy Notchy Award, which commemorated the Royal Engineers Corps song.  The award itself was presented to the top instructor in the Corps by the USA Chief of Engineers.  I had to ask the young Captains who were sitting next to me why “windy notchy” and they were eventually coerced in to revealing the words and an explanation, which it turned out was thought to brought back to the UK by one of the RE Units which served in the Anglo-Boer War.

The dinner closed with a full rendition of the Windy Notchy Song by all the Sappers in the room and I shall remember the singing and the dinner with joy for many years to come.

The Paviors Autumn Dinner

In my working days the Paviours were always considered by some to be a competitor in the flooring industry, however to those of us in the know, it was simply a different element of the construction industry.

The dinner took place in the Livery Hall in the beautiful Drapers’ Hall and was a full house of some 240 guests, most of whom came from the paving industry.

The guest speaker was Ian Wilson, CEO of Alzheimer’s Research the Pavior’s charity who reminded all of the dreadful effects of this awful illness.  It is hoped that a cure will be found eventually.

The Barber’s Pole

Malcolm and I accepted an invitation from the Master of the Worshipful Company of Barbers’ to attend the 36thSir Lionel Denny Lecture.

The speaker on this occasion was Dr Margaret Pelling, retired Reader in the Social History of Medicine in the History Faculty at Oxford University. She had worked primarily on English history between 1500 and 1700.

In her lecture she reminded us that the majority could not read in those years and so signage on commercial buildings had to be very obvious.  The Barbers’ pole usually red, white and blue, was displayed outside the home of a Barber and a bowl was usually hung from the pole. The colours red and white referred to the blood and bandages, however and sadly, there was no explanation for the blue.  Dr Pelling hypothesised that the three colours could represent the colours of the Union Flag, but it was unlikely that we would never know the true reason.

World Skills UK

Chris Causer and I, along with our spouses visited World Skills UK, which took place at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham on Saturday, 17 November.

We had been invited to visit by the National Federation of Roofing Contractors, and as I had visited many times during my working life, I was interested to see the competition again.

As well as roof slating and tiling, there were competitions for wall and floor tilers, bricklayers and many other crafts in the construction industry.  It was interesting also to see many other skills on show such as robotics, automotive, fitness and beauty on display.

Each of the competitors in the three crafts of interest to us had been given diagrams from which to work and had 18 hours to complete the project.  At the end of the 18 hours each piece was then marked by judges.

The winners were Morgan Chambers from Barnsley College for bricklaying, Joseph Turner from Leeds College of Building for roof slating and tiling, and Odhran Connolly from Southern Regional College for wall and floor tiling.  Each will be invited to our Craft Awards in March 2019 to receive Awards.