What was expected to be an ordinarily busy month, became quite extraordinary.  

The month started in what I now realise is a traditional manner, with an invitation to attend the Glasgow in London Dinner, to promote the relationship between the London Livery Companies and their equals in Glasgow, the fourteen Trade Incorporations. Our own Past Master Gordon Masterton was suitably attired as a former Deacon of the Hammermen.  Some of the traditions were strange to us, such as the impromptu toasts from the floor, the songs and the Sheriffs and Deacons skipping into the room.  A grand time, needless to say, was had by all, and links were made with Engineers/ Businessmen from the Guilds.

Two days later, whilst attending a charity event on behalf of the Ironbridge Trust at the Old Bailey in the presence of the Sheriffs, the passing of her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was announced.  The doors of the Old Bailey were immediately closed, the Sheriffs departed and we were asked to finish our drinks and leave quietly.  National Mourning had begun and I received instructions on Operation London Bridge on the way home. 

With my departure to organise the Out of Town only three working days away, I rapidly convened a meeting of NomCo, a Standing Committee comprising the Master, Wardens and the last five Past Masters, with the Clerk in attendance.  I also contacted both Cambridge Colleges, the Engineering Labs of the University and the Imperial War museum, all of whom were working to Operation London Bridge. After much discussion it was decided to proceed with the OOT, under the ‘Business As Usual’ guidance from the Palace, but with adjustments to the programme and tone to reflect the period of National Mourning.

Once in Cambridge John and I were delighted to welcome (variously – depending on the event) some 80 to 100 members and guests to the Out of Town (see banner image).  You will be able to read more about it in the Swordsman, but suffice to say we had an action packed dual stream programme, enjoying three superb dinners,(Churchill College, IWM Duxford under the wings of Concorde, and Corpus Christie College), tours of two unique archive centres, (one with outstanding engineering and 20th century prime ministerial papers, the other with outstanding medieval manuscripts), visits to the Engineering Department, University Museums, Ely, the Farmland Museum and Denny Abbey, a series of industrial lectures and an opportunity to ‘get up close’ with several autonomous tractors, and a BBQ on the banks of the Cam (held indoors due to the Siberian winds that sweep across Cambridge).  Following Sunday Service in ‘the Chapel at Churchill’, walking enthusiasts even made it to Grantchester to view the famous clock (arriving 5 minutes before 10 to 3pm (see The Old Vicarage, Grantchester – Rupert Brooke, 1912).

September is when the City Livery formal programme restarts.  Although some events were postponed due to National Mourning (including John’s Jailed and Bailed charity fundraising event for the Red Cross), I was able to attend the presentation of the Shrievel chain to the Sheriff-Elect Andrew Marsden (funded mainly by Livery Members) and the splendid Sheriff’s Ball held in Guildhall, hosted by the outgoing Sheriffs. John even managed to win one of the Silent Auction items.  I am told that the Ball raised £95,000 for the Lord Mayor’s charities. 

Sunday the 25th saw the annual Sheep Drive across London Bridge.  Notwithstanding some 22 years as a Liveryman, this was the first time I had exercised this particular privilege.  I was pleased to meet up with at least six Members of our Company, together with their partners/ family, all signed up to undertake this onerous task on what turned out to be a sunny and relatively warm Sunday afternoon.  This event raises significant funds for the Lord Mayor’s charities. We concluded the day with an impromptu pub meal next to the Golden Hinde.

The month ended with the Admission of Sheriffs in the Guildhall and, the following day, the Election of the Lord Mayor – where for the second time in my year I joined the Livery Masters’ procession.  Both events are open to all Members of the Livery and I do recommend Members of the Livery to attend these unique democratic events. After the election, eight of us repaired to Saddlers’ Hall for a lunch hosted by our Landlord, the Saddlers’ Prime Warden.

Master Audrey Canning