WHAT IS THE LIVERY OF THE CITY OF LONDON?
Livery Companies have their origins in the promotion, regulation and advancement of medieval trades and crafts. Today they support (and a few still regulate) their professions, educate and train the young and contribute to philanthropy to support hardship throughout the world.
In common with medieval governance throughout Europe, they evolved through the historic Fraternities and Guilds set up within the boundary of a City’s walls to regulate apprenticeships, industry standards, working conditions, wages and welfare, and to provide support in sickness and old age. Today, London’s Livery comprises 110 different Companies, varying considerably in terms of age, size and wealth, but guilds do persist elsewhere, including the Cutlers in Sheffield, the Merchant Venturers in Bristol and the Fellmongers in Yorkshire.
In London, the Livery came to the fore when the Royal Court moved away from the City, leaving it to become the centre for trade and residential accommodation. Workers in the same trade lived closely together, and the street names of London still indicate those origins e.g. Milk Street, Bread Street, Poultry. Local tradesmen formed networks to regulate competition and professional standards, eventually requiring a levy and giving rise to the term ‘Guild’, derived from ‘guilden’ meaning ‘to pay’. ‘Livery’ was the term used to describe the clothing, food and drink provided to workers in a great household, eventually coming to denote the affiliation, rank and privilege of those wearing the Livery. Living together led to practicing faith together, hence the term ‘Worshipful’, though todays Livery members can be of any faith, or none. Joining a Worshipful Company gave the right to be awarded the ‘Freedom’ of the City – originally a licence to practice a trade within the City walls. It also conferred freedom from certain taxes, seizure by a ‘press gang’ and even the right to drive sheep across London Bridge, though these rights are now purely symbolic.
The modern Livery thrives through the individual Company’s support for their trade (or its modern interpretation), their philanthropic, charitable and educational good causes (together they raise in excess of £70M per year and are one of the top 6 grant makers in the UK), by fostering fellowship within its membership of over 26,000 members and by supporting the work of the Lord Mayor and the City of London Corporation. Through that support, the Livery promotes the pre-eminence of the City on the world stage and the trade and commerce of the UK world-wide.
The Livery Companies take part in many ceremonial occasions and maintain City traditions. Members of the Livery, alone, are responsible for election of the Lord Mayor, the London Sheriffs and other Officials within the Square Mile. They also support some 153 schools or colleges, 65 churches and are affiliated with 216 cadet organisations. Together they are central to the life, governance and vibrancy of the City of London.
The Worshipful Company of Engineers, the 94th Livery Company of the City of London, is proud to be recognised as one of the most active and relevant of today’s Livery Companies.
PROMOTING ENGINEERING IN THE CITY OF LONDON (PECL)
One of the main aims of the Worshipful Company, in collaboration with other City organisations, is to promote the importance of engineering to the City of London. For many years the primary vehicle for this was the biennial Bridge Lecture, delivered in partnership with City, University of London.
Refreshed in 2018-19, the initiative is bringing together the WCE with partner Livery Companies in a joint campaign to share engineering innovation and strategic technology opportunities with other Livery members, City officials and financiers. Technologies discussed range from energy production and storage, to space and air vehicle technology have been discussed during informative and entertaining evenings where members and guests are encouraged to debate the economic, socio-economic and technical challenges in the context of the business opportunities and risks.
The PECL events aim to promote engineering in the City of London to show that engineers and those in the City, especially financiers, need to work together to solve society’s problems and for wealth creation. In particular, by working together and understanding each other’s perspectives on issues, more successful, better-informed business decisions can be taken on technology-enabled projects.
The first event ‘’ Engineering and Financing the electrification of transport in the UK – the Battery Challenge ‘’ was held jointly with the Worshipful Company of International Bankers. Attracting an audience of more than 80 senior Industry and Finance executives, the event focussed on the technology of energy storage, enabling the Engineers to connect with Alderman and Sherriff Alison Gowman in her wider Climate Acton initiative during her Sherrival year.
In an an on-line seminar ‘Achieving Net Zero Carbon Emissions – Challenge of delivering zero-carbon energy systems’, we sought to addressed the major economic, scientific and engineering challenges for the UK as the first major economy to pass net zero emissions law. Hosted on-line with a large number of guests from other livery Companies, the seminar explored the transformation required in the way we generate and use energy.
In November 2020 the Company again worked with the International Bankers, on this occasion the Bankers taking the lead. The event brought together a panel of UK experts to explore the strategic significance of the space industry, its technical maturity, investment horizons and risks and the opportunities and challenges for the UK manufacturing base, supply chains and economy.
In October 2021 the Company returned to the subject of energy supply, directly addressing the challenge of energy generation organised in conjunction with Fieldfisher LLP, with a presentation by the Commercial Executive of the UK SMR Consortium on the business opportunities that creating an indigenous small reactor programme for UK and export, will provide. The debate covered the decarbonisation challenge, its effect on future energy markets, what this means for the power sector and the strategic role of the SMR to develop a new way of delivering nuclear power plants at a market competitive price.
The most recent event, ‘The Future of Air Vehicles’ is bringing together the WCE with three other Livery Companies, the Insurers, the Scientific Instrument Makers and the Air Pilots, to explore the impact of the pandemic on the UK aerospace sector, the second largest in the world. As a driver of high value added throughout the UK supply chain, it has invested in rapid technological advance to address environmental impacts, climate change, affordable urban mobility and market imperatives. However, the impact of the pandemic, together with the imperative to achieve net zero, has thrown income and investment plans into disarray. In short investment in the aerospace sector is experiencing massive disruption, opening up opportunities for new entrants and bringing both high risk and high reward to business investors.
Watch our PECL Event - Achieving Net Zero Carbon Emissions – Challenge of Delivering Zero-Carbon Energy Systems - on our YouTube Channel.
BENEFITS OF THE LIVERY
Joining the Worshipful Company of Engineers does not just provide access to the Company’s own programme of lectures and events, but is also a gateway to a number of other activities and organisations in the City of London.
The City Livery Club offers a private daytime Club for Liverymen and members of related City organisations where they can meet, dine, and exchange views in heritage premises close to the Tower of London and within easy distance of Mansion House and Guildhall.
The Club also provides a broad programme of events both formal and informal, with various special interest Sections for History, Antiques, Investments, Motoring, Music, Wine, Golf, Aero, Photography, Under 40s and Women in the Livery.
The Club has a number of reciprocal arrangements with other fine Clubs in London, across the UK and around the world.
Full membership of the City Livery Club is open to members of the Livery and Freedom of the Worshipful Company of Engineers.
You can find out more on the City Livery Club website.
The Livery Committee is a connecting forum for communication between the livery and the officers at Guildhall and Mansion House. The Committee allows communication on any matter regarding the general body of the Livery.
The Livery Committee website contains useful information about the work of Livery Companies, a full calendar of livery events and information on the charitable and educational activities of City of London Livery Companies.
The Livery Committee also runs courses, including a City Briefing. This is a short introduction to the work of the Corporation of the City of London, especially the relationship with the livery companies. The presentation is given by an Assistant Town Clerk and a member of the Livery Committee. There is opportunity to ask questions of the speakers and the Briefing is followed by a light finger buffet, which provides the chance to mix with other Liverymen and Freemen.
Gresham College was founded in 1597 and has been providing free lectures within the City of London for over 400 years.
The College was established out of the will of Sir Thomas Gresham, one of the most influential and important men across the Tudor and Elizabethan periods. Sir Thomas made himself indispensable as the financial agent for four successive monarchs from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I. As well as founding the Royal Exchange, Sir Thomas left proceeds in his will for the foundation of Gresham College.
Today the College upholds its founding principle in maintaining the highest possible academic standards for all of our appointed Gresham Professors, Visiting Professors and visiting speakers. In recent years three additional Professorships have been added in Business, Environment and Information Technology.
The College’s 130 annual lectures and events are free and open to all. The College has been recording its lectures since the 1980s and we live stream all lectures for those unable to attend in person. There are now over 2,000 lectures freely available online on the Gresham College website and on YouTube.
A number of Livery Companies host regular lunches at their Halls that members of other Companies can attend.
- The Butchers’ Hall hosts a monthly lunchtime carvery most months of the year. The carvery is open to Freemen of the City of London and Liverymen of all City Livery Companies. Following reception and drinks served on the Ground Floor from 12:30pm, lunch is served in The Great Hall at 1.00pm. You can find out more and book a place at one of the carvery luncheons on the The Worshipful Company of Butchers website.
- On Mondays, lunch is available in Ironmongers’ Hall to members of all Livery Companies and their guests. You can enjoy pre-lunch drinks in the Drawing Room before making your way to your table. The bar is available from 12.30 pm and lunch is served from 1.00 pm. You can find out more and book a place at one of the carvery luncheons on the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers website.
- Watermens’ Hall hosts the River Thames Lucnh Club every month except August. For dates and how to book please visit the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames website.
Vintners’ Hall has a number of bedrooms available for overnight accommodation if you are attending an event at Vintners’ Hall or elsewhere in the City. These rooms are available to members of Livery Companies and their guests, together with members of other traditional clubs and City organisations.
You can find out more about how to book these rooms on the Vintners’ Company website.
The Mercers’ Company
The Mercers’ Company has nine high quality bedrooms available Monday – Thursday for members of the Livery. Breakfast is available as well. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A number of Livery Companies sponsor Inter-Livery sporting competitions.
- The Inter-Livery Charity Clay Shoot (The Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners)
- The Inter-Livery Bridge Competition (The Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards)
- The Inter-Livery Golf Tournament – The Prince Arthur Cup (The Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers)
- The Inter-Livery Pancake Race (The Worshipful Company of Poulters)
- The Inter-Livery Croquet Competition (The Worshipful Company of Glovers)
- The Inter-Livery Tennis Competition (The Worshipful Company of Feltmakers)
- The Inter-Livery Ski Championship (The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers)
- The Inter-Livery Regatta – The Lord Mayor’s Cup (City Livery Yacht Club)
In medieval times, sheep farmers drove their sheep across London Bridge into the City of London to sell them at market. Freemen of the City were excused the bridge toll that had to be paid by other people crossing the bridge, in recognition of their status as local traders.
Upholding the tradition of Freemen’s rights, in 2013 the Worshipful Company of Woolmen arranged the first official Sheep Drive for Freemen of the City and their guests to ‘drive’ sheep across the bridge. The event has been so successful that it has continued ever since, with places selling out every year!
All proceeds from the annual Sheep Drive & Livery Fair support of The Woolmen Charity and The Lord Mayor’s Appeal.
You can find out more about thsi year’s event on the London Bridge Sheep Drive website.
The Guild of Freemen of the City of London is a large association of almost 2,000 members with a special interest in the City.
All Freemen are welcome to join, whether or not they belong to a Livery Company. The Guild’s members are men and women from all backgrounds, with a wide variety of interests. The social programme is the City’s most extensive, and includes events with privileged access for Guild members, as well as opportunities to dine in some of London’s finest Livery Halls and at the Guild’s Guildhall Banquet.
On Guild of Freemen website you can find information about the organisation, its charitable activities and the 30 or so social and educational events that the Guild runs for its members every year.
The Guild of Young Freemen of the City of London is a volunteer-run organisation made up of and run for young people who share an interest in the rich history and traditions of the City of London.
All Freemen under 40 are welcome to join, whether or not they belong to a Livery Company; membership of the Guild currently numbers some 100 young professionals drawn mostly from the City’s financial and professional services with others from the legal sector and the Armed Services. The Guild aims to promote the City and Livery to young people in the hope of introducing its members to a Livery that they may wish to join, resulting in no fewer than 800 Young Freemen progressing on to become Livery Masters, Clerks, and even Lord Mayor.
You can find out more on the Guild of Young Freemen website.
The Worshipful Company of Engineers is able to put its skills and expertise on a pro bono basis for the benefit of first time engineering entrepreneurs.
“For want of a nail…”
If you are in a hole, the options are limited.
- Stop digging.
- Think of an innovative solution to fill the hole.
- If the innovative solution is elusive, ask someone who can provide a leg-up out of the hole.
Not everyone has the good fortune to know someone they can ask for help. For the lack of such help, many innovative ideas do not see the light of day.
Members of the Worshipful Company of Engineers, one of the Livery Companies within the City of London, have the skills, knowledge, and expertise acquired in over 10,000 engineer years of engineering at the highest levels. The Worshipful Company of Engineers is charged by its Royal Charter to promote engineering. To promote the success of ‘first time’ engineering entrepreneurs our members are willing to put their experience at their service with a pro bono consultation.
So, if you are a first time engineering entrepreneur and in a technology hole for want of finding the help you need from an expert in products, processes, business organisation, permits and licences, R&D, finance or law, we are here to provide some signposts and guidance.
Take that first step into a supportive community of engineers for a free consultation.
THE ENGINEERS COMPANY AND THE ARMED FORCES
Livery Companies have a long history of association with the Armed Forces and many support units of the regular and reserve forces. It remains a unique characteristic of the City of London, that no troops may enter the City without the prior permission of the Lord Mayor.
The Lord Mayor supports the work of the Armed Forces through the “Big Curry Lunch” event held each year at Guildhall, which raises money for the 3 national services charities.
The Worshipful Company of Engineers has a number of members who are serving or retired members of the Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force. The Company is proud to support the Armed Forces and does so in two principal ways. Firstly, the Company, through the Engineers Trust, sponsors a number of annual awards for engineers and technicians within the Armed Forces.
Secondly, the Company has direct affiliations with a number of units, stations and corps of the Royal Navy, British Army and the Royal Air Force. You can find out more about our Armed Forces affiliations below.
Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Prince of Wales is one of the Royal Navy’s 2 Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. With a displacement of approximately 65,000 tonnes, HMS Prince of Wales, and its sister-ship HMS Queen Elizabeth, are the largest vessels every constructed for the Royal Navy.
Her Majesty’s Submarine (HMS) Anson is the 5th of the Royal Navy’s latest class of nuclear-powered attack submarines, the Astute Class. Launched in 2021, it is currently undergoing final preparations before it is formally commissioned into the Royal Navy’s fleet.
Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Sultan is the home of Defence School of Marine Engineering (DSMarE) and the Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival Equipment School (RNAESS). This shore establishment, based in Gosport, Hampshire, is primarily responsible for the training of Marine Engineer and Air Engineer Officers and Technicians for the Royal Navy.
The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually called the Royal Engineers (RE), is a corps of the British Army. It provides military engineering and other technical support to the British Armed Forces. The Regimental Headquarters and the Royal School of Military Engineering are in Chatham in Kent, England. The Corps is divided into several regiments, barracked at various places in the United Kingdom and around the world.
The Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) provides engineering support and is responsible for maintaining and repairing the Army’s equipment. They will be found wherever the Army is located at home or overseas.
The Royal Corps of Signals, or Royal Signals, are leaders in IT, Cyber and Telecommunications, providing battle winning communications to every part of the Army. The Royal Signals are trained to become experts in engineering and operating systems, networks and cyber equipment.
The Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering (DSAE), a major part of the Defence College of Technical Training (DCTT), is based at Royal Air Force (RAF) Cosford in Shropshire. It is at the centre of the RAF’s mission to deliver flexible, affordable, modern and effective technical training that meets the needs of the UK’s Armed Forces now and into the future.