November is a busy month in the City calendar with the installation of the new Lord Mayor and the Remembrance Day service and parade. It is also a time of competitions and awards ceremonies in our three crafts.

“We will Remember them”

I have been invited to represent the Company at two Remembrance services in the City. The first was the annual Garden of Remembrance Service in St Paul’s Churchyard, held on 8 November. The Masters and Clerks gathered at Plaisterers’ Hall on London Wall. We were lined up in order of precedence and followed the Standards of the Royal British Legion in procession down to St Paul’s where we formed up in ranks of six. Fortunately, it was a bright, crisp morning. Shortly before 11am, the Dean and other Ministers arrived, leading the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs to their places. There was a short service, accompanied by the band of the Grenadier Guards, concluding with the familiar exhortation, the Last Post and a perfectly observed two-minute silence before Reveille was sounded. There then followed the planting of the crosses in the Garden of Remembrance, led by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, the Sheriffs, the Dean, representatives of City Schools and emergency services and with the Masters of the Livery Companies approaching in ranks of six. Very moving.

The week ended with a Remembrance Sunday service in St Paul’s Cathedral on 14 November. The Masters, Wardens and Clerks were seated in the south transept, all gowned and badges worn. The Aldermen were seated in the Choir and were joined by the Sheriffs and the new Lord Mayor, Vincent Keaveney, resplendent in his full robes and preceded by the sword and mace. Finally, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, representing the Queen, took his place and the service began. It was a moving service with wonderful singing from the choir. The timing was impeccable. As the last echo of the final note of the Last Post died away, the great bell of St Paul’s struck eleven and there was complete silence. The service ended with a rousing singing of the National Anthem and then the Masters, Wardens and Clerks formed up on the south steps of the Cathedral. We processed up New Change and down Cheapside to the Royal Exchange (fortunately the roads were closed) where there was a wreath laying ceremony at the City of London War Memorial, Royal Exchange opposite the Bank of England. The wreath laying was led by the Lord Mayor and Prince Michael of Kent and accompanied by the band of the Honorable Artillery Company. The ceremony ended with a march past of the band, a detachment of the HAC, a group of Old Comrades and a gaggle of army cadets, scouts, guides and brownies, with the salute taken by the Lord Mayor from the viewing platform at Mansion House.

 2021 Masters Blog 2

“And the winner is…”

I was invited as a guest of the NFRC to the UK Roofing Awards 2021, held at the InterContinental London – the O2 on 5 November. The awards were cancelled due to covid in 2020 so there was an air of celebration in the room as nearly 1,000 roofers, sponsors and their guests gathered in the ballroom of the hotel. It was great to witness the quality of the projects that were shortlisted for awards in the Roof Slating and Roof Tiling categories but not surprising to find that Liverymen Andy Rowlands (Roof Slating) and Franke Clarke (Roof Tiling) were on the list, with Frank’s team winning the prize in their category. Liveryman Gerald Emerton’s company also triumphed in the small-scale project category for some fine work on the restoration of a slate covered turret on a village hall.

A few days later, I was the guest of Liveryman Keith Aldis at the Brick Awards dinner at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, organised by the Brick Development Association. The Brick Awards celebrate the use of clay bricks in a wide variety of building projects ranging from individual houses to large public and commercial buildings and from traditional to highly innovative schemes. The judging panel comprised architects, brickmakers, developers and brickwork contractors and included Past Master David Cole-Adams and Liveryman Ian Wilson. The Visitor Centre at St Albans Cathedral, which our Clerk, Heather Smith, commissioned and oversaw in her previous role as Lay Administrator at the Cathedral (using bricks from Liveryman David Armitage’s York Handmade Brick Company), was Highly Commended in the Public buildings category, coming second behind the Lambeth Palace Library – a case perhaps of Archbishop trumps Bishop? I was invited on to the stage to present the award in the Overseas category. The prize was awarded to a community project in China who, perhaps unsurprisingly, had not sent a representative to collect the award. Keith will now have to arrange for the delivery the clay brick trophy to the winners in China!

On 18 November, I went with the Chair of the Craft Committee, David White, to the SkillBuild 2021 National Finals held at the National Construction College at Bircham Newton in Norfolk. In previous years, SkillBuild has been part of WorldSkills UK and held at the NEC but this year the national finals in different categories have been held at different venues around the UK. The roof tiling and slating competition was held at Rowlands Roofing in Hereford in the previous week but the finals in bricklaying and wall and floor tiling were held at the NCC alongside plastering, stonemasonery, painting and decorating, carpentry, furniture and cabinet making and joinery, with apprentices from across the four countries of the UK taking part. The standard of work produced by the young apprentices under the pressure of the competition was astonishing and it was a privilege to have an opportunity to meet and chat to the next generation of master craftsmen. The winners will be announced next week and the winning apprentices in the bricklaying and wall and floor tiling categories, as well as the winning roofing apprentice from the Hereford competition, will be invited to the Craft Awards Lunch next March. The Company sponsored the award in the bricklaying stretch test (a separate competition of speed and accuracy) and I was delighted to present the award to the winning apprentice.

 2021 Masters Blog 1

The support given by the Company in various ways to our three crafts is an essential part of what we stand for in the 21st century. It has been wonderful to be able to witness the quality of the craftsmanship at first hand and a privilege to represent the Company at these events. I am grateful to Court Assistant David White for his leadership of the Craft Committee and for his hard work in nurturing and strengthening our relationships with the trade bodies and individuals who represent the crafts.

 

It was a great honour and privilege to be installed as the 440thMaster of the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayerson 30 September 2021.  When I talk to people outside the Company about the Tylers & Bricklayers, I nearly alwaysrefer first to the past – to the granting of our Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1568 and to our first recorded Master in 1416.  This long history is important.  To put it in context, the first British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole served from 1721 to 1742 and the United States did not have a President until George Washington in 1789.  I was very aware of this long legacy when I took the Master’s oath at the Installation.

The Installation, Annual Service and Installation Lunch

The Installation took place in St Margaret Lothbury by kind permission of our old friend, Rector Jeremy Crossley. Past Master Michel Saminaden passed the Master’s gown and badge to me after two eventful and memorable years.  John Schofield was installed as Upper Warden and Chris Causer as Renter Warden.  I was delighted to present Michel with the Moreland Medal which Michel will wear as Immediate Past Master for the next 12 months.

The Annual service follows the Installation, with barely a pause to draw breath.  We were honoured that the Bishop of London, the Right Reverend and Right Honourable Dame Sarah Mullally agreed to give the address in the Annual Service which was lead by our Honorary Chaplain, John Cook.  The music was magnificent as always, with the Lothbury Singers directed by Honorary Freeman Richard Townend. 

The Installation Lunch was held at Carpenters’ Hall.  The principal guest was the Right Honourable David Gauke, who was Lord Chancellor and Minister for Justice in Theresa May’s Government.  I have known David since we worked together at Macfarlanes in the early 2000s before David was first elected to Parliament in 2005.  David made an excellent and amusing speech replying to the toast to the guests given by Court Assistant Jenny Rolls.

A full report of the Installation, Annual Service and Installation Lunch will appear in an Event Report on the website shortly.  For now, I would like to thank the many members of the Company who gave me a warm welcome and such uplifting support at the Installation or who have sent kind messages.  I am very grateful. 

The First Two Weeks

The Master of a Livery Company has several different roles.  Members see the Master most often when he or she sits on the top table at our formal lunches and dinners and makes a speech responding to the Toast to the Company.  The Master also leads informal visits and events during his or her year.  The Master also presides over Court meetings and works in close harness with the Clerk, the Wardens, the Court and the various committees to ensure that the Company continues to function smoothly, efficiently and within the agreed annual budget for the year.  But the most visible external role is as an ambassador, representing the Company at a range of events across the City and beyond.  

I have enjoyed a busy and varied first fortnight representing the Company in this way.  On the day following the Installation, I attended the annual prize giving of the City of London School for Girls in Guildhall.  This year the Noreen Dickins prize fund was shared by thirteen girls from Year 12 with the prize awarded for progress in Mathematics.  I met the Master Needlemaker at the reception following the prizegiving.  He too had been installed as Master on the previous day but as his installation took place in the afternoon, followed by an Installation Dinner, I was able to claim seniority by all of 6 hours!

I have listened to a lecture given by the Master Plumber on the surprisingly interesting topic of “The Royal Plumbers and Early Water Engineering” at the Royal College of Physicians.  I have been to evensong twice at St Paul’s Cathedral.  The second occasion was the Musicians’ Company Annual Evensong when all Masters and Clerks are invited to process into St Paul’s and take their seats under the Dome.  A wonderful spectacle with beautiful music from the choir and from the string orchestra from the Royal College of Music. There was some good natured confusion before the procession as we assembled in the Crypt:  we were told to line up in order of precedence with the Master Draper first in line but most Masters (including me) could not remember which Company came before or after (we follow the Coopers at number 36 but stand in front of the Bowyers at number 37) or, even if they could remember, they had no idea of the identity of the relevant Master.  

I have also been to the Installation Dinner of the Master Constructor at Grocers Hall which was a splendid evening in a magnificent room.  The Master Constructor is in fact starting his second year in office – he described himself as an environmentally friendly, re-cycled Master!

Perhaps the highlight of the last fortnight has been a Corps Guest Night, hosted by the Chief Royal, Lieutenant-General Tyrone Urch, at the Royal Engineers Headquarters Mess at Chatham.  This was the first formal dinner for some 20 months because of covid restrictions so the Corps was dining out (saying farewell) to a number of senior officers who have completed their service and also welcoming several batches of new RE subalterns who have joined the Corps.  The Tylers & Bricklayers are one of only three Livery Companies that have an affiliation with the Corps of Royal Engineers and it was a great honour to be invited to attend this special evening.  I look forward to welcoming several representatives from the Royal Engineers to our Craft Awards Lunch at Trinity House in March next year when we will award the Stokes prizes for the best Class 1 and Class 2 bricklayers training at the Royal School of Mechanical Engineering.

Simon Martin

Master

16 October 2021

The month of September started in fine style with a wonderful luncheon as guest of the Master of the Worshipful Company of Bakers. It was so nice to be together again in each other's company, and it was especially wonderful to have both Sheriffs with us on this joyous occasion, with Sheriff Mainelli accompanied by his wife, Elisabeth. Master Baker greeted everyone on entry with a glass of champagne  which set the scene beautifully for the rest of the luncheon. We feasted on Cornish Lobster Cocktail in Sea Urchin, followed by Roast Old Gloucester Suckling Pig  with  Trio of Bakers Pudding for dessert - scrumptious.

The food was accompanied by splendid wines as always and as a special treat, Master Baker had arranged for a "goody bag" to be given to every guest, comprising of delicious homemade doughnuts and a lovely organic wholemeal loaf. A wonderful event to start the month off.

I extend warm Summer greetings to you all and I hope that everyone continues to be fit and well.

September has been an explosive month in terms of events and city functions. I feel that things are now back to almost normal in the Livery world and that of the Mayoralty.

Starting with the Covid-19 situation, there was good news as vaccination booster shots were agreed by the Government, on the advice of the JCVI, and the rollout has already started for the over 50s. Also, schools are preparing to arrange vaccinations for 12 to 15 year-olds. Although the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 is increasing, the good news is that the number of people with serious illness is not rising in line with infections – proof that the vaccines are having an impact.

The other wonderful news for this month was Emma Raducanu’s amazing win at the US Women’s Single Open – it gladdened the Nation’s hearts to see such a lovely young person achieve this well-deserved success.

Turning to the City and all matters Livery, what a month it has been! The month started brilliantly with a lovely lunch at Bakers Hall, as a guest of the Master of the Worshipful Company of Bakers, on the very first day of the month. This was followed, the next day with our fabulous Triennial Awards and luncheon at Apothecaries’ Hall. The presentation of the of the awards took place in the beautiful Parlour in front of all the winners and invited guests. Court Assistant David White had done a superb job of organising the event and making the presentations so successful, and I was really pleased to have Vicky Russell as my Principal Guest for the presentations as well as for lunch. What a fabulous event this was.

On Monday 6th I took part in a wonderful Zoom event in which City Guide Katie Wignall took us on a very interesting tour of Holborn, and the next day I attended a wonderful service at the Church of St Vedast-alias-Foster to celebrate the 650th Anniversary of the Worshipful Company of Fletchers. It was so nice to be able to don the Master’s Gown and Chain of Office to process in to the Church with my fellow Masters.

The very next day Maureen and I were delighted to attend the Summer Festival of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers at Salters’ Hall. This was a black-tie dinner with all the formalities of a lovely City event, wonderful.

And on Friday 10th we were guests of the Tile Association at their amazing Gala Awards Dinner. This took place in a huge marquee in the grounds of the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel and Country Club, and was a dazzling musical event. I had the pleasure of presenting one of the Awards, which was the icing on the cake. The Tile Association were wonderful hosts, putting us up at the hotel for the night. A delightful evening.

Following a short rest at the weekend, we were straight into more events. On Monday 13th I was at the first face to face meeting of my Past Masters’ Association, the Zoomers. Again, it was so nice to be able to see my fellow Committee Members properly for the first time rather than on a small screen. The meeting was followed by a super lunch at Ironmongers’ Hall.

The next day we made our way to Herefordshire for our long-awaited Craft Visit to Rowlands Roofing, followed by the delightful Banquet at Liveryman Brenda Upton-Kemp’s home. This was such a fantastic trip, three wonderful days of learning about one of our crafts, hands on experience, and great fellowship. What more could anyone want?

And the pace continued the following week! On Monday 20th Maureen and I were happy to join a small group of fellow Liverymen to carry out the annual silver cleaning at Carpenters’ Hall. This was organised by Silver Steward Martin Reading and we all worked hard to ensure a beautiful display of our Company Silver at the forthcoming Installation service. The cleaning was followed by a very nice lunch.

The next day, Tuesday 21st, I was up early and made my way to the Guildhall Yard where I had been invited to attend a photocall with the Lord Mayor to celebrate City Giving Day. It was so nice to see lots of people all dressed in red, celebrating this wonderful charitable event. At lunchtime I joined a small group of Tylers and Bricklayers and a number of Merchant Taylors for a guided City walk. It was fascinating to be taken around the upper walkways of the Barbican and to hear about the history of the area. In the evening I was at a Black-Tie event with the Lord Mayor at Mansion House, celebrating the huge success of the Big Curry Lunch, in the presence of TRH the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

On Thursday 23rd I was guest of the Master of the Worshipful Company of Masons for a wonderful luncheon at Cutlers’ Hall and on Friday I had the privilege of visiting one of the Triennial Award Winners to personally hand over the prize.

This week I have my final event, Common Hall, for the election of the Lord Mayor at Guildhall followed by lunch, which I am very much looking forward to. I hope to be able to process in to the Guildhall with all my fellow Masters for one last time.

I extend warm Summer greetings to you all and I hope that everyone continues to be fit and well.

Starting with Covid-19 matters, there was confirmation that the vaccines would be rolled out to all 16-17 year olds, and this commenced immediately. There was also medical approval for the Moderna vaccine to be given to 12-17 year olds, but this process has yet to receive political backing. The great news is that over 75% of all eligible adults have now received both doses of vaccine, which will hopefully enable the “normality” that we are all now experiencing, to continue long into the future.

August has been a fairly quiet month in terms of City Events, but very momentous, as I managed to finally hold my long-awaited Annual Dinner. And what a marvellous event it was! The setting was the fabulous Grand Hall of the Barber-Surgeons, where around 100 of us were seated at a wonderful horse-shoe shaped dining table under the watchful gaze of Holbein’s Henry VIII. I was very privileged to have Sheriff Professor Michael Mainelli as my Principal Guest, with his wife, Elisabeth. We dined on superb food and drank plenty of excellent champagnes and good wines. It was a night to remember.

I also managed to hold the joint Charter Day and Consort’s Visit this month. A small group of us visited the amazing Copped Hall in Epping. This is a fine Georgian Mansion that is currently under extensive restoration by a group of incredibly dedicated and hard working volunteers. Liveryman Dick Spellar, one of the Trustees of the Copped Hall Trust, facilitated this wonderfully interesting visit, which included a tour of the house and extensive gardens and a fabulous homemade lunch. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

September looks like being a very busy month, and I am looking forward to joining in with all the activities that the City has to offer.