Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Modern Livery Companies Dinner

An enjoyable occasion twice a year is the Modern Livery Companies' Dinner-one in the Spring, one in the Autumn. A different Company hosts on each occasion. The Marketors will be hosting in Spring 2012. On these occasions Masters are allowed out without their Clerks. Enough said.

 Last night the Worshipful Company of Builders Merchants were the hosts at Founders Hall. The Founders (as in Iron Founders) are an ancient Company whose history goes back into the fourteenth century and since then they have had a number of halls but the current one was built in 1987. It is contemporary but very stylish and redolent of their history. This is the Company that for centuries had control over weights and measures until well into Victoria's reign when official authorities took over responsibility for weights and measures.
Modern Companies are so called because they came into being from the twentieth century onwards. After the Fan Makers were granted their Livery in 1809 no new Companies were formed for over a  100 years until the Master Mariners in 1926. There are now 38 'Modern' Livery Companies. 20 of them sat down to dinner last night.

Sitting on the top table I found myself between the Lady Master of the Constructors,  and the Upper Warden of the Chartered Architects. Both are architects and if you think economics is the 'dismal science' it has little on architectural practice in the current recessionary times. More uplifting was the after dinner speaker Alderman David Wootton. But it's tricky speaking to modern Livery Companies as only a very small number of them are directly or indirectly related to that huge engine which drives the square mile -financial services. It was clear from the questions that David Wootton fielded afterwards that modern  Companies, all made up of practising members of their profession, largely non-financial, all supported the City and Mayoralty but felt a little out of the frame because of the overriding importance of financial services as the lifeblood of the City. Something on which the Livery Committee, or higher bodies, might usefully reflect. Particularly as there are more non-financial guilds now moving up to modern Livery status.

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