A Virtual Installation: Master Gordon Masterton

“I can guarantee that this coming year will be unlike any other in the history of the Company.”

These are fine words for any normal year, but the problem is of course that the reasons behind that statement for this year are entirely unwelcome. The latter part of Barry’s year and the first part of my year has been dominated by cancellations and postponements and this is of course what all organisations, and businesses, not just Livery, across the country are dealing with.

But whilst it is certainly not what Lynda and I had expected, nevertheless it is a challenge that must be faced – and engineers love a challenge. Whilst the nation is grappling with the bigger issues of national health and wellbeing, we in the company also have a duty of care to our members. As members of the company we give solemn undertakings in our formal declarations. Through these declarations we bind ourselves to the Company, and by doing so we also bind ourselves to each other. And this period will test the strength of those bonds. I believe they are as strong as the integrity and character of our membership – which makes them, in my opinion, unbreakable. And so the focus for the next few months is to continue to manage the necessary business of the Company, to offer new ways of coming together as a Company online, and to keep the membership informed and involved as much as possible.

New Ways of Engaging

There will be a few new features to help that happen. This blog page is one of them.  It is intended for topics, conversation-pieces, sounding-boards for emerging ideas, and occasional messages from the chaplain, the master, the clerk, the almoner, etc.

You should now also be aware of our fortnightly Engineering Soirees – the “Alternative Lockdown Programme” which I will run with the help of the Chair of the Programme Committee, our new Junior Warden Raymond Joyce. The first soirée proved the concept and was very well received and thank you to Audrey for that. We will have therefore a one-hour Tuesday evening event every fortnight for the lockdown period starting on Tuesday 28th April at 17.45 for 18.00, noting that our rearranged AGM uses an earlier slot of 16.00 on 12th May. I will start the ball rolling and talk about “Engineering the City of London – Past, Present and Future” in keeping with my theme for the year of “Engineering Foresight from Hindsight”.

We can learn a lot from deep study of the past. Even in our current predicament, a number of experts had foreseen the risk of a pandemic, or even the inevitability of a pandemic, and we also had experiences from the past that we had chosen, or happened, to forget or, in some cases, wilfully ignore.

If we can build the story of how engineering has made the City of London a highly successful complex system, that should also throw light on what is needed to keep it successful and resilient for people to feel safe, secure, and content to live and work there.

So, that’s the rearranged short term, perhaps even medium term, but the theme of the year will persist, and I’m hopeful that the out-of-town in Edinburgh can still happen – an expression of interest will be requested very shortly to gauge interest – but it will only run it if it’s deemed safe.

A nationwide programme planned ….

A sub-theme for the year was binding with other parts of the nation – visits were planned in the north-west, midlands, and Scotland, and  I hope many of these will still happen, and surely we will be able to enjoy our finale of a visit to the home of the MacRobert Trust in Douneside House in April 2021, the former home of Lady MacRobert, and now a four star hotel, whose fine dining restaurant has just been announced as the Scottish Hotel Awards “Restaurant of the Year”.

But no-one can yet predict when we will come out of the other side of the Covid-19 Lockdown.

Thanks to Immediate Past Master Barry Brooks

On behalf of the Company I offer my very sincere thanks to Immediate Past Master Barry, who has also been affected by curtailment of events on a large scale, so the last five or six weeks of his year could have been something of an anti-climax. But the low-cost field ventilator idea generated by Brian and Nachi and so strongly supported by Barry is typical of how engineers abhor a vacuum. If there’s space for something else to do, something else will be done! The year overall as we have heard has been hugely successful with its strong theme of marine engineering, science and technology and Barry’s leadership has been instrumental in raising our profile in the Livery. Barry thank you so much for everything that you have done for the Company in your year.

I regret that at the “virtual” Installation Court the presentation of the Past Master’s Badge, Certificate of Office and clothing in a Past Master’s Gown, was deferred until our next face to face meeting, as was my donning of the Master’s badge and robes, but in the words of our Sovereign Lady, Her Majesty the Queen, – “we will meet again”, and in the words of Vera Lynn, we just “don’t know where, don’t know when”.

There are now far more problems out there desperate for solutions. Engineers are going to be critical to the economic recovery of this country, so let’s make sure we in the Company play our part in that too and seize any opportunities to do our bit.

I look forward to serving the Company for the coming year.


This first Company blog is adapted by the Master, Professor Gordon Masterton, from his acceptance speech on the occasion of his online Installation on Tuesday 21st April 2020.

Image © User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA-4.0