The Company of
Watermen & Lightermen
of the River Thames

The Master’s Blog – October 2019

Wednesday 2nd October was the Livery Common Hall when the new Lord Mayor of London is elected, as we do not have Livery, we have no official involvement, but I was invited by our caterer, Mark Grove, to attend a breakfast at Guildhall with many other Masters and their Clerks.  I was unsure at first whether to go, as my first Quarterly Court started that day at 1100hrs, and I did not want to be late!  However, I am glad I did, as most Livery Company Masters and Clerks were attending,and I was able to meet some of them for the first time get a really good cooked breakfast which set me up, nicely for the day ahead.

After a quick trot back to the Hall I made it back in good time for our Court meeting, it was bit daunting to chair my first Quarterly Court of the year. The Clerk assured me that Court Members were usually gentle on a Master for their first Court!  The discussions at Court have been described elsewhere so I will only say it was an interesting experience and I now look forward to my second Court in January with at least a little experience under my belt.

It is the Master’s privilege to choose the guest speaker at Court and Freemen Lunches, so keeping it in the family, so to speak, I asked my cousin, Kevin Maynard to come and speak about his experience as the Station Manager of the Tower Lifeboat Station. Kevin described the rescue work at the Station, the busiest RNLI station, in the United Kingdom.

In the evening there was the launch of a City Cookbook in aid of the Lord Mayor’s Charity, it sounded more like the Clerk’s taste, so I-asked him to represent me. It meant I could enjoy the social side of post Court in the Monument,only a couple after such a long day, of course.

On Thursday, 3rd October, the Ladies Committee had organised an evening aboard the PV Pride of London with food, drink and music. Unfortunately I was not able to attend as I had a family event to attend but thanks to Steve and Jane Woollacot for providing the vessel and food. It was a successful fundraising raising in the region £2,500.

Also that evening was a launch of the Mayflower 400 anniversary reception at Watermen’s Hall. Whilst there will be celebrations in 2020 in Plymouth, the event will be celebrated also in London by raising money to enable more young “pilgrims” to sail to America. The Clerk, attended and to offer the Companies support and I’m told the event went well.

It was a busy week with two more Livery Company engagements on Friday, 4th October. The Master and Clerks’ Luncheon organised by the Worshipful Company of Lightmongers at Tallow Chandlers Hall, and the Installation Dinner of the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers at Haberdashers Hall.

One of the greatest privileges of being Master, is that you are invited to other Companies’ events as an honoured guest and as was the case here, accompanied usually by the Clerk. This gives the opportunity to visit other Livery Companies’ Halls. The vast majority of Livery Companies do not have a hall and so use the facilities of friendly Companies with a Hall.

The Tallow Chandlers’ Hall, where the Lightmongers’ lunch was held, is a fantastic Hall in Dowgate Hill, next to Cannon Street Station. It was built in 1672 after the first Hall was destroyed by the Great Fire. The Lightmongers are often confused with the Lightermen, with some people, thinking Lightermen have something to do with lights. Their trade is the manufacture and installation of all electric lighting systems, whilst our connection is with barges lightening the loads of ships, I know we are all clear on that, bit it’s amazing the amount of people you meet, who aren’t. The guest speaker spoke about the project to illuminate the Thames Bridges. So far, they have completed the first four from London Bridge to the Millennium Bridge. I had already represented the Company at the Launch of the project.

On arrival at the Feltmakers, I was greeted by the Master and Wardens, all dressed in hats which according to the helpful leaflet supplied, are copies of the style worn by gentlemen at the time the Company received its Charter in 1604.  Haberdashers’ Hall is a modern Hall opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 2002. Although modern in style it is still attractive with a garden and orangery in the centre.

On Monday 7th October, I attended the Corporation of London’s Livery Committee’s Reception in the Livery Hall at Guildhall. The Livery Committee oversees the relationships between the Livery Companies and the Corporation of London. It was well attended by Livery Masters and Clerks and is one of the events that draws together all the Livery Company and City Guilds Masters and Clerks.

The Annual National Service for Seafarers took place on 9th October at St Paul’s. The Company was represented by two of our apprentices, Scarlet Barnett-Smith and Mason Knowles, who carried the Company’s colours in the procession of Flag Bearers which also included our Barge Master Robbie Coleman.  The ambience and beauty of St Paul’s, a Royal Marines Band, and a packed congregation certainly kicks in the feel good factor.

The weekend of 12th and 13th October was the Company’s Sculling Weekend at Henley.  On Friday evening we took a Salters’ steamer, kindly provided by Past Master John and Mrs Linda Salter, for a curry supper cruise.  It was a wet night keeping us below in the lower saloon where apprentices and Freemen mingled together. We were again joined by a past Craft-Owning Freeman, John Morrell, it’s always such a pleasure to see him, a really interesting gentlemen.

On Saturday, the coaching started.  The more proficient Apprentices were able to take to the water in the single sculls, but newcomers to the sport were ably coached by the volunteer Freemen.  We were especially grateful to Phyllis Court Rowing Club who manned several training doubles so that the novices were able to get some feel for sculling with no fear of falling in!  By the end of the afternoon, everyone had been out in a single scull – some more successfully than other.

This year the formal dinner was held at Leander Club.  After a day’s strenuous activity, not for me of course there was an excellent roast beef dinner enjoyed by nearly forty Apprentices, Freemen and their partners.

The races for the Ben Woollacott Sculls took place on the Sunday morning under the supervision of Past Master Simon McCarthy.  The eventual winner after a couple of heats was Max Carter-Miller.  The sculler deemed to be the most improved over the weekend was Scarlet Barnett-Smith.  The prizes will be awarded at the Doggett’s Emblem evening on 28th January when we hope to see a good turnout. Special thanks to Simon and everybody who contributed to make the weekend so successful.

On the Sunday afternoon, the Annual Benefactors Service for the Thomas Martyn Foundation took place at St Mary’s Parish Church, Putney. As I could not be in two places at the same time, Past Master Bob Prentice took my place with Irene Prentice to represent the Company. After the service at St Mary’s Church attended by the charity’s trustees, representatives of the Company, and the current Foundationers, with their families in support there was a reception at London Rowing Club with refreshments and the presentation of the grants to foundationers and the traditional oranges.

On Tuesday, 15th October there was the annual Freemen’s Benefactors’ Lunch. This lunch commemorates and celebrates past Freemen who have given so generously to the Company and its Charities. Without their support the Company would not enjoy its lovely Georgian Hall full of wonderful treasures. We were able to use some of the interest earnt on recent monetary gifts to reduce the usual Freemen’s Lunch ticket price to £40 as part of commemoration. I invited our latest Honorary Court Assistant, David Beard who has been appointed our Honorary Fundraiser to speak about how we owe it to the next generation of Watermen and Lightermen to ensure we hand over what we inherited in best of conditions. It was a really enjoyable occasion.

On 16th October, I attended the Worshipful Company of Musicians Dinner at Amourers’ and Braisers’ Hall . The Hall is on a site which it has occupied uninterruptedly since 1346. The Hall is absolutely full of amour, shields, spears and the like. It looks quite spectacular. As befits musicians, there was of course some music to listen to after dinner.

On 18th October, I had to attend both a lunch and then dinner, no wonder Masters put on weight during their year!

My first official duty was to attend the AGM of London Youth Rowing (LYR) and the lunch which followed at Trinity House.  The Company is a member of LYR, and thus entitled to vote at the AGM, but there was nothing exciting to debate and the meeting took only a few minutes.  LYR is a charity aiming to persuade young people to row, first on ergos in schools and later afloat.

The lunch that followed was attended by the many supporters and sponsors of LYR, and after a welcome from John Kinsella, the Chairman of LYR, there were a couple presentations.

In the evening, I visited the Worshipful Company of Painter Stainers for their St Luke’s Banquet in their Hall in Little Trinity Lane by Mansion House Tube Station. The first Painters Hall was donated to the Company in 1532 and was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. It was subsequently re-built but was destroyed again by enemy action in 1941. The present Hall, which is on a slightly larger site, re-opened in 1961, combines the traditional elegance of a City Livery Hall with the facilities expected of a modern building. I have to say that out of the Halls I have seen so far it is one of my favourites.

We then had a few days off which gave Sue and I the opportunity to take a short break to celebrate her birthday.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 30th October, I attended the Thames and London Waterways Forum.  The Mayor of London wants to encourage greater use of the river to transport passengers and freight and has set up several working groups to encourage that greater use.  The Company was well represented along with several river operators and other interests.  We heard presentations from each of the three Working Groups: passenger, freight, and cultural & environmental.

On the following Thursday, 31st October, the Company provided a small lunch for the Port of London Authority (PLA) and the Thames Skills Academy (TSA). This followed an earlier lunch sponsored by the PLA held on 27th June where a number of Vessel Operators have met with the PLA, TSA, and TfL.

At the earlier lunch, the TSA and the PLA were keen to introduce the topic of Continued Professional Development, but attendees highlighted their concerns about the current BML standards. The PLA were not aware of the extent of this concern and the PLA Chairman, Christopher Rodrigues pledged to address the issue by extending a challenge to those present to remind him of his pledge in a year if action had not been taken. Whilst those present were impressed with the commitment, the TSA were not as positive about the outcome. Craft Owning Freeman, Alex Hickman completed a post lunch questionnaire with those present to create some data from the anecdotal accounts.

At the second lunch it was proposed that the PLA should meet a smaller group of Vessel Operators/ employers put together by the Company to pursue the discussion started at the original lunch on taking forward the issues of continuous training and tackling what the PLA see as a decline in navigation standards.

So ended a busy month, and I was worried in August that there was not much going on!

Tony Maynard

Master to The Company of Watermen & Lightermen 2019-2020

Thames River Services

Circular Cruises Westminster

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