The Company is most sincerely grateful to our Liveryman and Past Lord Mayor of London, Sir Francis (Frank) McWilliams and his family, who have very kindly donated the handsome model of Ironbridge that was presented to Frank by the Company in 1992 on his accession to high office as Lord Mayor.
It is a splendid piece, as you can see, (with an extra image below with a famous friend – Thomas the Tank Engine – to give a better idea of scale) The bridge passed the load test.
Sir Frank, a civil engineer, was the seventh of our Master Engineers, serving in 1990-91 when he was an Alderman and became Lord Mayor of London 1992-93. He is the second of three Lord Mayors who have also been Liverymen of the Worshipful Company of Engineers – Sir Peter Gadsden (Lord Mayor 1979-80 and Founder Master of the Worshipful Company of Engineers 1983-85) and Sir Michael Bear (also a civil engineer) (Lord Mayor 2010-11) being the other two. A proud record for a modern Livery Company.
Sir Frank and his wife recently moved house to Kent to be closer to his family, having previously lived in a remote part of the Scottish Borders, beautiful but impractical. I uplifted the bridge from Frank’s nephew Gordon Hunter, a solicitor in Edinburgh. We had an excellent socially distanced chat and I recalled two earlier dinners seated with Frank at the Institution of Civil Engineers after which he sent me a signed copy of his autobiography Pray Silence for ‘Jock’ Whittington – from Building Sewers to Suing Builders. Frank does have a good sense of humour, and yes, he is a fellow Scot, and we were both educated at the University of Edinburgh.
The Company proffers its fulsome and grateful thanks to Sir Frank and his family, especially his son Douglas, and his nephew Gordon, and also to Liveryman Professor Liz Tanner, a very close friend of the family, who helped us when the germ of an idea arose. It will be a great addition to Company Treasures and will be on display at the first opportunity, when we also hope to arrange a more formal handover from a representative of the family.