On April 5 we held a joint lecture with the Carpenters’ Company in their splendid hall. Dr Anya Matthews gave a most erudite presentation on the destruction of Livery Halls during the Great Fire. This formed part of series of talks on my theme of ‘Rebuilding the City’ – marking the 350th Anniversary of the Great Fire. The Company will be organising walks in the City over the summer looking at the halls discussed by Dr Matthews in her lecture.
The Annual Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch took place at Guildhall on Thursday April 8. The lunch raises money for The Soldiers’ Charity. There was a silent auction to raise additional funds. One of the lots was for a walk around the modern architecture of the City with yours truly. Luckily someone agreed to pay a couple of hundred pounds for the pleasure.
On the Friday we held a reception at the Leadenhall Building to unveil the plaque for the City Building of the Year. The Lord Mayor did the honours, accompanied by Sheriff Bowman and Christine Rigden. A jolly time was had by all, the jollity of the occasion boosted by the Lord Mayor tugging so hard at the curtain that he pulled the whole assembly off the wall. The stainless steel plaque was attached by magnets, since fixing could not be made through the fire protective intumescent paint on the steel structure, and thus it was put back in place with little disruption. My thanks to British Land and Oxford Properties for hosting the event.
I went on from the Leadenhall Building to the City Livery Club, which overlooks the Thames close to Southwark Bridge, to meet up with other Masters from the construction professions. We have formed a group made up of Masters of the Masons, Carpenters, Plaisterers, Plumbers, Joiners and Ceilers, Tylers and Bricklayers, Chartered Surveyors, the Furniture Makers and Constructors in order to discuss events surrounding the 350th Anniversary of the Great Fire as well as other issues of mutual interest.
The next Monday there was a meeting of the members of the Company interested in education. We discussed the mentoring of students as well as visits to practices. Anne Markey, the Master of Students reported on an excellent breakfast visit to Weston Williamson’s office. The next student visit will be to Space Syntax. There is an encouraging growth in the number of students joining the company and we are keen to make sure that they get the most they can from their membership.
The following day, together with Senior Warden Richard Brindley, Past Master Alan Downing and Ian Head, we interviewed candidates for the job of Clerk to the WCCA in the Furniture Makers’ Hall. There was an excellent shortlist of candidates and in the end we selected Jonathan Soar who will take over from Ian in September. Jonathan is very familiar with the Livery being a Past Master of the Information Technologists.
The Information Technologists are one of the few of the Modern Companies with their own halls. The ambience is, like the Furniture Makers’, smaller and more intimate than many Livery halls. The guest speaker was the Master Bowman who is an accomplished raconteur.
The Tylers and Bricklayers are 600 years old this year and to celebrate they held a concert at the Guildhall School of Music on April 18. All the performers were student sat the school. There was splendid brass playing and violin pieces with a finale of popular songs. I bumped into Geoff Mann formerly of RHWL. His practice designed the theatre (David Walker did the building). It turns Geoff is a Tyler and Bricklayer. I told him he should be an Architect.
At the end of that week I was at the City Centre for the opening of a new exhibition there where the Lord Mayor once again officiated.
On Monday April 25 we held the third event in the series of Rebuilding the City, this time at Gresham College. The topic was the long term impact on the City of the IRA bombs of 1992 and 1993. Michael Cassidy, who had been Chairman of the Policy and Resources meeting at the time, gave a fascinating insight into the immediate aftermath – including a ticking off by a grumpy John Major, the Prime Minister at the time. Tim Garnham talked about his development of the Baltic Exchange site and how the construction of the Swiss Re building led to the creation of the City cluster. John Robertson of JRA showed slides of 55 Bishopsgate, which he had completed shortly before the bomb, in tatters. He looked at how the City had responded to provide office space for the burgeoning financial services sector.
The next day I chaired the April Court with a full attendance. We agreed to pursue an application for a Royal Charter which was the traditional method of incorporation for the livery companies and it is deemed a good thing for newer companies follow suit. We also agreed to start using the name “The Architects’ Company” as the day to day form of address. This brings us in line with others like “The Goldsmiths’ Company”, “The Mercers’ Company” and reflects contemporary usage of the title. The longer name – “The Worshipful etc..” will be retained for formal events and communications.
We also, very encouragingly, swore in 14 new Freemen, admitted six new Liverymen and bound nine new students.
After the meeting I hosted the April Court Lunch at Ironmongers Hall with Eric Parry as the guest speaker. Eric is just putting the finishing touches to the Leathersellers Hall, constructed deep underground next door to the 100 Bishopsgate site. He is also designing One Undershaft, which will be the tallest of the buildings in the Eastern Cluster of towers in the City.
The Engineers’ Installation dinner, in Grocers’ Hall was the next evening. Like the Plumbers’ the Engineers’ are celebrating their first woman Master. Prof Isobel Pollock-Hulf OBE is the Chair of the National Measurement & Regulation Office and of the National Physics Laboratory Electromagnetic & Time (EMT) Working Group. Her guest speaker was also a woman: Prof Dame Ann Dowling, the President of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
On the Thursday it was the Paviors Spring Livery Dinner. Their guest speaker was Simon Kirby, the CEO of HS2. He talked about the hybrid bill for the route which, at 85,000 pages is the largest ever to go through Parliament. The dinner was held in the Grade 1 Fishmongers’ Hall, one of the finest, designed by Henry Roberts in 1835.