Speaker: Rodney Cartwright, Worshipful Company of Plumbers

Mon Jan 12th 2009

Our own member and PP Professor Rodney Cartwright - “ His work as the Master of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers”.

In his current prestigious position in the City of London both as freeman and as Master of his Guild, Rodney fluently related the history and composition of his Livery company and outlined the wealth of meetings and social functions he is obliged to undertake this Livery year.

As one of the oldest of the 108 livery companies in the City of London it has existed since 1365. Its aims are to promote the training and qualification of plumbers and apprentices. Initially its activities were confined to City, but now they spread across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. In this task it has always mirrored that of the other Livery Companies, whose existence is always to oversee the work of their own specialized crafts.
Additionally, his Company has a large charitable purpose, overseen by a separate Board of Trustees.
 In its recruitment of members it is clear that this function is stressed, although the Company remains a firm advocate of proper training and recognition of plumbers.. Its past history of power of chastisement for erring craft members, and as determined by the Master, has largely been superseded by its emphasis on standards of work and ethical practice.

Indeed it now concentrates on awards to individuals for their excellence in their craft , both in the City and in the Armed services. Next week a Dublin apprentice will receive the Company gold award from Rodney. Curiously they have made awards to a music student at the Royal Academy and diversely to a troop of Sea Cadets functioning in the City! Bursaries are also entertained.

The Livery Company also participates in the election of the Lord Mayor of London and his two Sheriffs. It networks with the great and good of the other Guilds and many influential people outside. It has a strong and demanding social programme with its annual lecture and its Annual Banquet – the highlight of its year to which the Lord Mayor is always invited.

Joining the Plumbers is not, like some Livery Companies only by invitation, but also by individual application followed by interview. The strong charitable component and commitment to the Company activities are essential to acceptance. Full membership follows later, as does selection for admission to the Court of the Company after several more years. A progression from Court Assistant to Senior Court Assistant to Renter warden precedes elevation finally, after about 10 years, to the ranks of Upper Warden, Master Elect and then to  Master. The gowns worn are impressive in their black and yellow. Women are also now admitted and one is destined to become the Lord Mayor of the City, a post of Cabinet Minister status.  
The Guild has a current membership of 360 with about 10 applicants every month.
Rodney concluded with a brief survey of the huge commitments expected of him

Chris Blow thanked Rodney and wished him every success in his year of office.