Viewing Brewer’s Hall

As we all know life doesn’t always follow Plan A.  News had come through to the Learned Clerk that our Master and Clerk’s Lunch at HQS Wellington was under threat as a result of a change of caterers so the Clerk and I took the opportunity to view Brewer’s Hall as an alternative venue.

The Hall is tucked away behind Guildhall in Aldermanbury Square and plays home to the Worshipful Company of Brewers.  It is the third Hall for the Company, built after WW2 and its main rooms are lined with wood panelling and with plenty of daylight coming in and would suit one of our smaller Company events.

A decision on whether to use Brewer’s Hall now follows, so watch this space!

Lunching with the Masons

The Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers is part of the Group of Construction Livery Companies and it was with pleasure that I accepted an invitation to join the Worshipful Company of Masons for their Lady Day Court lunch at Mercers Hall.

In my working days I used to visit the Skillbuild National Finals and would spend time fascinated by the stone masons working on their competition pieces, turning a piece of stone into what to my mind was a piece of art.

The Mason’s Company fully support the craft of stone masonry and it was a pleasure to meet and talk to members of the Company and to learn more about how the Company works with stone masons in the UK.  

I have now learned to expect the unexpected with Livery engagements and had great fun exchanging stories on bringing up grandchildren and discussing whether or not one should take up a hobby of hop growing and operating a micro-brewery!

Lord Mayors Banquet for Masters

Malcolm and I were honoured to be invited to attend the Lord Mayors Banquet for Master, Prime Wardens and the Upper Bailiff of the Livery Company of the City of London which took place at Mansion House.

As we entered Mansion House an honour guard from the Honourable Artillery Company was there to greet us and all the guests.     The Lord Mayor, Alderman Peter Estlin, his wife, and the Sheriffs and their Consorts greeted all the guests before joining us for a glass of Champagne before dinner.

On these occasions you can never be sure who you will be seated with, but we were fortunate to be seated with His Honour Judge Nick Hilliard, his wife Jane, The Chief Commoner and Master Glover, all of whom were excellent company and we exchanged advice on how to refurbish a kitchen and discussed the more difficult topic of reducing knife crime.

Speeches were given by Master Mercer on philanthropy, The Lord Mayor, and Master Grocer who had the audience laughing at some appropriate jokes.

United Guilds Service, St Pauls

In the guidance notes for Masters there is a “three-line whip” for the United Guilds Service which takes place annually at St Pauls on the morning after the Lord Mayors Banquet. Having said that, as we walked into St Pauls bathed in the spring sunshine it was certainly a spectacular occasion with all Masters wearing their gowns and many ladies resplendent in their spring hats!

The United Guilds Service was established in 1943 as a response to the challenges faced by the City of London following the Blitz.  The first service to be conducted was held on Lady Day – 25th March 1943. The King was petitioned to attend, along with Masters and Prime Wardens in their robes with such of their livery as ‘may be able’. 

The King did not attend; but the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen did. Dr Fisher, the Bishop of London, gave the address. The then Lord Mayor Sir Samuel Joseph hosted an ‘austerity luncheon’ after the service for the Masters and Prime Wardens. The Lord Mayor hoped that the service would be held annually as an opportunity for the Livery to ‘approach God with one voice of united prayer’.  76 years later I do believe that his wish has been fulfilled!

I was particularly taken by the choristers of St Pauls, some of whom were tiny but their voices certainly were not. I was very moved by their angelic voices as they sang Psalm 85! 

After the Service the Tylers and Bricklayers joined guests from the Worshipful Companies of Carpenters, Gardeners and Builders Merchants and the Guild of Entrepreneurs for lunch at Carpenters Hall.

Livery Company Awards at Carpenters Hall

Whilst the Tylers and Bricklayers have their own Craft Awards other Livery Companies do not and take part in the presentation of Master Certificate Scheme Awards and City & Guild Livery Company Prizes, I do think it important to support such events.

The Lord Mayor The Rt. Hon. Alderman Peter Estlin was able to take time out of his busy diary to present the awards which consisted of Livery Company Prizes, a Fellowship of City & Guilds to Walter Balmford MBE and Livery Companies Skills Council Master Certificates.

Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Just a few steps away from Moorgate Station is the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and it was a pleasure to meet up with Rachel Davis, their Trust Manager.  Rachel is responsible for liasing with the Livery Companies who support the school.  She was able to update me on the work of the School and to thank the Tylers and Bricklayers for their continued support of the arts and the School in particular.

The Consort lunches with the Lady Mayoress

It is fair to say that the Master’s year is busy for both me and Malcolm (hubby and Consort).  Malcolm was delighted to accept an invitation to lunch with Lady Mayoress Lindy Estlin at Mansion House.  Along with two other male Consorts Malcolm joined some Lady Consorts and representatives from several charities.

Before lunching the guests were taken on a short tour of Mansion House including the Old Ballroom and the “second bedroom” and after there was an opportunity to see some of the treasures housed at Mansion House.

The Master understands there was much discussion on plans for the Ironbridge Weekend and the Livery Dinner to be held at Mansion House the following week.

The work of the Almoner

Somewhat unexpectedly I benefitted from the duties of the Almoner when I suffered a flare up of a medical condition I suffer from.  Sadly, I had to cancel two engagements, rest and wait for the antibiotics to do their magic. Much to my surprise and delight the post brought a delivery of flower with best wishes for a speedy recovery.  

This was thanks to our Almoner Jenny Rolls who keeps up to date with “special” birthdays and events, illness amongst the Livery and keeps in contact with Liverymen who are no longer able to travel up to London for our events.

The simple gift of flowers, a card or a phone call goes a long way to cheer up those in need of a fillip and reminds us all that we are all part of a caring organisation.

Farewell to a Past Master

It was with a sense of sadness that Malcolm and I attended a memorial service for the life of Past Master John Wilson-Wright.

In the many years he spent as a Quantity Surveyor John had applied a sense of order and method to every thing he did and he was well respected in the construction industry.  John was installed as a Liveryman in 1978, joined the Court of Assistants in 1998 and became Master in 2003.  

After becoming a member of the Court Emeritus John took on the role of Honorary Secretary of the Charitable Trusts.  When John stepped down from this role I took over, and I spent a very interesting day with John learning about the work of the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the Tylers and Bricklayers Charitable Trust, Craft Trust and Relief in Need Charity.


John is pictured here second from the left, with his wife Maureen.

From John’s wife Maureen I learned of the work of the Fifth Trust and a group of Tylers and Bricklayers spent a wonderful August day in Elham Valley learning about the work of this very special charity, which, I must admit had a big effect on both Malcolm and I.  Sadly, it turned out to be the last time I saw John before illness took over and he passed away.

The Tacitus Lecture

Sometimes an invitation arrives in the Master’s Inbox that gives a hint of a very interesting event that lies ahead, and so it was that an invitation from the Worshipful Company of World Traders to their Tacitus Lecture given by CEO of the IMF, Christine Lagarde.

The subject “The finance sector: redefining a broader sense of purpose” didn’t give many hints away, but the packed Guildhall listened to Mme Lagarde weave Mary Poppins’ baddy banker (if you haven’t then do watch Mary Poppins 2) into her lecture on how the Finance Sector must change its ways if it is to survive in the City of London.

If you have some time to spare, please follow this link to Mme Lagarde’s lecture.

Guild of Bricklayers

I had been invited to talk to members of the Guild of Bricklayers at their annual conference explaining the role of the Tylers and Bricklayers Company in the 21stCentury.

Members of the Guild are, for the most part, college lecturers and I was delighted to be able to speak to the Conference to explain the role we play in supporting the crafts of wall and floor tiling, bricklaying and roofing.

In my time as a Liveryman I have always found it useful to explain (a) what a Livery Company is and (b) to give a history of the movement and the Tylers and Bricklayers, before moving on to the modern-day company and its activities.

In my talk I explained the part we play with hosting the annual Craft Awards, the Triennial Awards and how elite craftsmen in our three crafts can become a Master Craftsmen.

Our Annual Craft Awards

March 4 2019 marked a very special day in the calendar of the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers as we celebrated our annual Craft Awards.

However, before the Ceremony we held a Court Meeting and after the business was concluded Freemen Simon Howells, Steve Brooks and Gary Bricknell were installed as Liverymen. This was particularly special for me, coming from the wall and floor tile industry, as all three work in the industry.

Our principal guest for the Awards was the Rt. Hon. Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons.  Sir Lindsay had started his working life as a Bricklayer, before going on to serve in local government and representing Chorley, Lancashire as MP.  Sir Lindsay spoke with warmth about his time as a brickie.

The Awards Ceremony was masterminded by Chris Causer, Chairman of the Tylers and Bricklayers Craft Committee, and I was joined in the Ceremony by Sir Lindsay.  The following Awards were made:

Morgan Chambers from Barnsley College was awarded the E&R Fuller Award for Bricklaying.

Joseph Turner from Leeds College of Building was awarded the Mason Elliott Award for Roof slating and tiling.

Odhran Connolly from Southern Regional College was awarded the Montgomery Award for Wall and Floor Tiling.

Through our support of the Royal Engineers two awards are presented and the winners of the Stokes Royal Engineers Awards were 

Lance Corporal Jordan Hawkins – Class 1

Sapper Ryan Melloy – Class 2

The Company supports Royal Engineer badged Cadet Units in London, and we were delighted to present 

Best Cadet to Cadet Cpl Kirandip Jandu

Best Adult Volunteer to 2 Lt Douglas Horsman.

Both Kirandip and Douglas were from Erith.

Following the reinstatement of Master Craftsmen, the elite in the industry, I was delighted that Daniel Harkin was installed as Master Craftsman Roof slater and tiler, and Liveryman Emma Simpson as Master Craftsman Heritage Bricklayer.

It is a sad fact that tutors are often forgotten in the thank you process.  So, I was delighted that we could recognise Chris Messenger from Leeds College of Building who had significantly advanced the level of roofing skills amongst the students at the College.

Tossing for Charity!

On Shrove Tuesday the annual Inter Livery Pancake Races take place in Guildhall Yard.  This year the sun shone on the “competitors” and the watching crowd.

Team T&B was made up of just two, Liveryman Clare Banks who took part in the Ladies Race and me taking place in the Masters Race.   Team Leader was my Consort.  Training for the event for my part was limited to tossing pancakes in the pan the weekend before.  Thankfully then, and during the race, I didn’t drop a pancake or the pan onto my foot!!

Thankfully I didn’t come last in my Masters Race and Clare won her heat before losing out in the final of the Ladies Race.

The team were supported by a number of Liverymen sporting daffodils and carnations to help raise funds for our Charity of the Year, Red Balloon.

Just under £1000 was raised for Red Balloon, a goodly sum!

Lynn Painter Stainers Awards

Having left the pancakes behind we headed over to the Mall Gallery for the presentation of the 2019 Lynn Painter Stainers Awards, a competition to encourage the very best creative representational painting and promote the skill of draughtsmanship. With prize money of £35,000 the Prize is one of the most prestigious awards to artists in the UK.

The event had been described to me as an exhibition of paintings of a tree that looked like a tree. There were many paintings on display and the Consort and I tried to guess which of the paintings were the winners. How wrong we were in our choices! 

The winner was Jennifer McRae, whose painting is shown below.  She won £20,000 and a gold medal.

Reasons to be cheerful

Malcolm and I had accepted an invitation to join the Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants for their annual business lecture.

The 2019 lecture was presented by well-known economist and journalist, David Smith of the Sunday Times.

The theme of his lecture was the “B” word, Brexit, for those reading this in several years’ time! Whilst it was obvious which way he had voted in the Referendum, he went through his ten reasons to be cheerful about the economy of the UK post Brexit.  

David also referred to his “skip index”.  He explained he regularly counts the number of skips in his road; one being a dire situation for the country, and four being an exceptionally healthy economy. He had reported two skips on show in the morning, so the world would not come to an end post Brexit!

Celebrating the Four Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Basketmakers

2019 is the 450thanniversary of the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers and the celebrations began in earnest with a trade fair in the Old Library of Guildhall.  The theme “Basketry: Weaving the Cycle of Life” was the order of the day.  The trade fair was officially opened by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester.

Some 40 Basketmakers had stalls and I had a fascinating morning talking to many of the Yeoman Basketmakers about their craft, how and why they took up basketmaking and watching them at work.

Pictured here is Magog, a mythical creature, made by the Company that were presented to the Corporation and regularly take part in the Lord Mayors Show.

Craft Committee

With just a fortnight to go to the Annual Craft Awards, it was a busy meeting for the Committee where arrangements were finalised, discussion on the process of awarding Master Craftsmen status and an update on affiliated organisations.

Nominations Committee

This has to be one of the most difficult and confidential discussions that take place amongst the Master, Wardens, Past Masters and Learned Clerk as they plan for future officers of the Company.

We must consider who would be eligible to join the Court of Assistants and who could go on to take high office.

Not an easy meeting to chair!