The Garden of Remembrance

Today marked the opening of the Garden of Remembrance at St Pauls Cathedral. The Civic Team, Masters and representatives from City organisations attended a Service to mark the opening of the Garden of Remembrance in the centennial year of the end of World War 1.

Not only was every Master present, but also Yeomen Warders from the Tower of London, Chelsea Pensioners, the Standards of the Royal British Legion, choirs from the City of London Boys and Girls Schools and members of the City of London Police and First Responders.  

The Service was led by the Dean of St Pauls, Dr David Ison and began with the singing of Praise my Soul, the King of Heaven.  This was followed by an Address by the Lord Mayor and prayers.

The Exhortation was followed by the Last Post and the Two Minute Silence, then Reveille.

The cross laying was led by the Lord and Lady Mayoress, the Sheriffs, City representatives and then Livery Masters.  We had been briefed by a Sergeant Major of the Grenadier Guards who had instructed us to march, in sixes, to our place, lay the cross and then move away.  As number 37 in the order of precedence I had the “privilege” of leading my group of Masters and thankfully all went well!

After the National Anthem, we all dispersed.  Many to take photographs of the crosses as a memory of this special occasion.

After the service I joined other Tylers and Bricklayers at the Civic Lunch of Vintry and Dowgate Ward for a convivial lunch.

Livery Collaboration

The Upper Warden and I attended a briefing on the Pan Livery Collaboration initiative which began nearly two years ago.

Whilst any work on Philanthropy has been halted, the Communications Working Group have been busy undertaking surveys.  The most positive news is that just under £67m is given away by the Liveries annually in charitable giving.

Beyond the Deepening Shadow

After the Briefing the Upper Warden, our Consorts and I visited the Tower of London to see the 10,000 flames alight in the Moat, which forms part of the commemorations of the centenary of Armistice Day in 1918.

The Inner Workings of the Company

As Master it is important that the inner workings of the Company run smoothly, and this week I attended meetings of the Finance Committee and Communications Committee. It is important also that Liverymen from the finance sector play an active role in advising us the state of the stock market and that our finances are in good order.  Our Learned Clerk runs the Company with absolute efficiency and is to be thanked for all his hard work on our behalf.

The Communications Committee’s remit includes events, membership and promotion of the Company via its newsletters, website and social media.  During our meeting plans were made for the next newsletter, a review of the website and events over the current Livery year.

After the meeting closed, the Wardens, Clerk and I interviewed two potential candidates for the Freedom of the Company.

Brick Awards

Malcolm and I were invited to attend the annual Brick Awards organised by the Brick Development Association at the Hilton on Park Lane.

This was very much an industry occasion and I was delighted to catch up with a colleague from the trade association world and to meet many people from the brick industry.

Jon Culshaw was the MC for the evening and his professional approach ensured a successful evening.

We were delighted that Liveryman Ian Wilson, from Anglian Brickworks Ltd won four awards, including the Supreme Award for work at Storey’s Community Centre in Cambridge.

A new Lord Mayor of the City of London

On Friday, 9 November the City was preparing for the Lord Mayor’s Show, but before that the Installation of the new Lord Mayor Peter Estlin took place in a Silent Ceremony in Guildhall.

The ceremony dates back over 800 years and follows the same time table year after year.  I was fortunate to be sitting directly behind the new Lord Mayor’s chair so was able to see the hand over process.

The only words spoken are those of the new Lord Mayor as he swears an oath of office.  The outgoing mayor removes his tricorn hat and seconds later the new Lord Mayor places his hat on his head, signalling the transfer of mayoralty.

There follows a transfer of all the elements of the City by touching of symbols reflecting all elements of the Corporation before the new Lord Mayor leaves to the sound of heralds playing.

Celebrating our 450thCharter Anniversary

On All Hallows Eve, Tylers and Bricklayers and their guests dined at Tallow Chandlers Hall as part of the 450thCharter Anniversary celebrations.  

It is particularly appropriate that this dinner was held at Tallow Chandlers Hall.  The Tylers and Bricklayers coat of arms in the window in the Livery Hall demonstrated the connection between the two Companies. The Hall was built by Master Tyler and Bricklayer Master Captain John Caine in the late seventeenth century and from 1948 to 1960 the Tylers and Bricklayers used Tallow Chandlers as a refuge whilst post war rebuilding of the City was undertaken.  

During the Evening we welcomed a new Companion to the Company, Diana Christopher.  Five years ago, it had been agreed that widows and widowers of Past Masters and Wardens should be invited to become Companions to continue their association with the Tylers and Bricklayers.    Diana Christopher had been a part of the Tylers and Bricklayers family for many years supporting Michael.  Sadly Michael had passed away earlier this year Diana had accepted our invitation to become a Companion and it gave me great pleasure in presenting a Certificate to her.  


Much research had been undertaken into the food eaten at Elizabethan banquets and whilst it was not appropriate to have a boar’s head on the table, we dined on Ham Hock Terrine, Quenelle of Pike, Venison and Lemon Posset, and enjoyed some superb wines arranged by the Wine Committee.

After the meal the Loving Cup was passed round and speeches were given by Liveryman Professor John Schofield and the Master.

This was the final element of the Anniversary Celebrations and all Liverymen who attended thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Off to the Reform Club

The Consort and I attended a Livery Banquet at the Reform Club as guests of Liveryman Professor John Schofield, who is Chairman of the Reform Club.  Guests of honour for the evening were the two Sheriffs of the City of London, Alderman Vincent Keaveny and Non-aldermanic Sheriff Liz Green along with her consort Peter.

The Reform Club is one of the most beautiful buildings on Pall Mall, having survived the London Blitz intact.  The Library was the perfect situation for the diners and we had a wonderful evening chatting with guests.  Liz Green gave a most entertaining speech explaining the role of the City and the work the Sheriffs in the modern era.

Professor Schofield presented Liz with gifts to mark the occasion.

Who doesn’t love a Ruby!

The City University Club played host to the Tylers and Bricklayers Christmas Reception for a number of years before moving to new premises close to Fenchurch Street Station.

Its Secretary Hasita Senanayake invited a group of Tylers and Bricklayers to its new premises to sample Sri Lankan cuisine cooked by a chef who had travelled to the UK especially for this event; and a group of curry lovers were delighted to accept.

Sri Lankan cuisine is known to be spicy however Chef had tempered the amount of chilli and produced an excellent lunch.  To whet your appetite here are just a few items from the menu:

Black Lamb Curry
Devilled Prawns
Heritance Red Chicken Curry
Cashew Carrot and Pea Curry
Tempered Dhal

All of these delicious dishes were washed down with beer, the name of which reminds you of a snake!

Suffice it to say the Tylers and Bricklayers left the Club fully sated hoping that the Upper Warden (whose family hail from Sri Lanka) will include a Sri Lankan meal at the Club during his year as Master.

Young Builders Awards

I had the honour of attending the 2018 Young Builders Awards at the Palace of Westminster on 17thOctober 2018 at a guest of Liveryman Livia Williams who is a Trustee of Youthbuild UK.

The Youthbuild Awards celebrates the achievements of socially excluded young people who are now making their way in the Construction industry.

President of Youthbuild, The Rt. Hon. John Hayes CBE MP, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning presented the prizes to two age groups, the first 14 to 18 year olds, and the second 19 to 24 years old.

Each of the finalists has had to overcome a myriad of difficulties ranging from mental health, to abuse and illness and it was humbling to listen to the stories of these young people.  

The winner of the younger age group was Joshua Smith from Bradford and the older group winner was Zinnia Young from Sunderland.

After the event all the finalists were treated to a trip on the London Eye before heading back to their homes.

Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters 

The association between the Tylers and Bricklayers and the Framework Knitters Company’s came into being through Catherine Fuller, wife of Deputy Master Jeff, who is a member of this Company.

Whilst there is no obvious connection between the two Companies, the fact is that there is; as we both have deep interests in our respective crafts and both have full involvement in the education and training of new entrants.  It is also a very friendly Company and is most welcoming to its guests.

Malcolm and I were delighted to accept an invitation to the Livery Banquet of the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters at Mansion House on 19thOctober 2018.  The Banquet took place in the beautiful Egyptian Hall, although its design probably has more to do with Roman times than Egyptian!

I was seated alongside Master Glover, Alvan Seth-Smith, and Peter Green, Sheriff Liz Green’s Consort, and was thoroughly entertained throughout the dinner.

After the meal 9 Company Bursaries and 5 Awards were presented to young students who were in the final stages of their degree courses.  As well as receiving a prize the winner is allocated a Mentor whose role it is to help the student through the award year and give advice when needed. As a result the textile industry with a continuing flow of well qualified personnel.

Guests were entertained by speeches from Professor Julian Ellis OBE, Sir David Wootton and the Master Sheila Turner.  Music was provided by the Band of the Royal Yeomanry.

A square within a square within a square!

 I was delighted to be able to attend the inaugural Gilder Lecture organised by the Worshipful Company of Masons.

Named after Mr James Gilder, Master Mason 1620-1621, the lecture entitled Stone and the City was presented by Liveryman Adrian Paye from Paye Stonework and Restoration, who had recently been involved in the preservation of the Temple of Mithras which is underneath the Bloomberg Building in the City.

The lecture began with a history lesson on how the Romans had perfected the technique of building with stone in Rome and around their empire.  Using stone from Caen the Romans had constructed buildings in Londinium, as it was known then.  They were somewhat protective of their craft as they did not pass on their skills to English Masons!  

After the Romans left it was the time that the Vikings invaded England and no stone buildings were constructed again until the Middle Ages.  Using skills learned in France Masons began constructing Cathedrals and Castles.  For a time, men could be conscripted into masonry as the Kings of England built more and more with stone.

Geometry plays a role in stone masonry, and we were shown how a square within a square within a square was the basis for calculating many aspects of stone masonry.

This was an altogether fascinating lecture and a mental note has been made to visit to Temple of Mithras very soon!

A newly installed Master Worshipful Company of Builders Merchants

In the beautiful surroundings of Merchant Taylors Hall Pippa Latham was installed as the new Master of the Worshipful Company of Builders Merchants.  The Consort and I joined other Masters to celebrate the occasion. 

During the evening we listened to the beautiful soprano Natalya Romaniw singing l’amour est un oiseau rebelle from Carmen, Donde lieta usci from La Boheme and Meine Lippen, sie kussen so heib from Guiditta.

I was seated next to Alderman Sir Roger Gifford and Immediate Past Master Brian Blanchard and had interested discussions on music, encouraging entrants into the crafts and life post-Brexit.

A lesson in wine tasting

The Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers is known for the wine it provides at our lunches and dinners.  The Wine Committee meet once a year to select the wines for forthcoming occasions taking advice offered by Francis Flavin from Davy & Co.

As Master I was invited to join the Wine Committee for lunch (which incidentally we all paid for) and to bring along some wine for the occasion.  For this lunch, Chairman Philip Parris had asked diners to bring wines using grapes from Bordeaux but not produced in this beautiful area of France.

With permission from the Chairman, I took some English Sparkling wine from Elham Valley Vineyard home to T&B supported charity, the Fifth Trust and to my relief it was declared a good wine!

Frances talked us through each of the wines as we ate and asked us to compare one against another. As a non-wine specialist, I learned much about the wines we drank and had a most convivial afternoon!

Meeting of the Construction Liveries Group

My first event as Master was to attend a meeting of the Construction Liveries Group at Carpenters’ Hall.

The Group consists of Livery companies who have an interest in the construction industry and is chaired by Tom Barton.  Topics of discussion included the presentation of the Masters Certificates, the Livery Committee Skills Council and the Builder’s Merchants Apprenticeship Initiative.

Having worked in the construction industry for nearly 30 years I was pleased to see the commitment of the CLG towards education and training, and to emphasise that construction is a great place to work.

Installing a new Master Constructor

Drapers’ Hall was the venue for the Installation Dinner of the new Master Constructor Mike Parrett, and Malcolm and I were delighted to be part of this special occasion.

Drapers Hall was bought from King Henry VIII in 1543 for the sum of 1,800 marks (approximately £1,200). This had been the house of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex and Chief Minister to Henry, but had been forfeited to the King on Cromwell's execution in July 1540.

Destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666, Drapers’ Hall was rebuilt between 1667 and 1671 to designs by Edward Jarman. In 1772, it was again rebuilt after a fire which did considerable damage and, in the 1860s, the frontage was changed and the interior altered by Herbert Williams. It was later altered once more in 1898-9 by Sir Thomas Graham Jackson. 
We were delighted to meet Master World Trader Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli and Master Turner David Batchelor during the course of the evening.  The guest speaker Keith Exford CBE, a good friend of the Master not only regaled guests with stories of their past lives, but also talked about the housing sector.

We wish Master Mike and his Consort Jessica a wonderful year ahead and we are sure our paths will cross again over the coming 12 months.

WorldSkills Live and Digital Marketing

You may wonder if there is any connection between a skills competition for our three crafts of tiling, roofing and bricklaying and marketing, but if you think about it there is!

The Tylers and Bricklayers Company are supporting the tiling candidates as they work towards the 2019 World Skills Competition taking place in Kazan.  This Skills competition along with the UK version of WorldSkills Live showcases all that is best about young people progressing through their training in their respective craft.  

World Skills Live will also be promoting careers, running seminars and have a go areas in a myriad of skills and crafts.  To market the event World Skills are busy using digital marketing techniques, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to encourage visitors to the event taking place at the NEC in November.

On the same day as meeting with World Skills Live I went along to a seminar run by the Worshipful Company of Marketors where Guy Daniels talked about Digital Marketing in the 21st Century.

He reminded his audience that the core skills of marketing i.e. know your customer, know your product or service and create a connection with your current and new customer using the KISS approach.   

As we move towards a digital world he went on to explain the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI).  In simple terms he reminded us that when we go online to sites such as Google, Facebook or Amazon, algorithms within their software note what we search for or buy, and then make suggestions of what we may like to buy or subscribe to.  Whilst we may think this is very clever and buy their suggested products or services there are some ethical issues which have to be addressed.  Does AI know more about us than we know ourselves being a case in point!

Going back to World Skills, the organisers know their customer base is mostly young people looking for potential careers and promote the event to them via social media.  Live feeds will be available to view the event, whilst for us older folks a visit will be of interest.  All round a good example of marketing!

Prizes Galore!

I was honoured to attend the annual prize giving of the City of London School for Boys at Guildhall along with other representatives from Livery Companies who support the School through bursaries or prizes.

The Great Hall of Guildhall was filled with prize winners and their proud parents, students and teachers and guests such as me.  Sir Andrew Parmley, Lord Mayor in locum tenens, the two Sheriffs and their consorts took centre stage with the Chairman of the School Governors.   

After a welcome by the Chairman of the Governors, Head of School Rahul Shah gave a speech in praise of John Carpenter who initiated the school back in the Middle Ages.  Rahul spoke with such confidence and eloquence that you could forget he was still in his teens!  The School Head, Mr Alan Bird then took to the stage to address the audience.
There were many prizes to hand out, and the winners of the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers Noreen Dickins Prizes were David Gringras, Isaac Gruber, Raphael Mizrahi, Rahul Shah and Alexander Teeger, are to be especially congratulated.

The Chamber Choir marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1 by singing “The Soldier” whose words reminded us of Rupert Brookes poem “If I should die, think only this of me” and In This Place.  The angelic voices of the altos will stay in my memory for years to come.

Sir Andrew Parmley addressed the audience with his usual humour before the Prize Giving came to an end and a welcome cup of tea was provided for all the guests!