Shipwrights' Installation Banquet, Drapers' Hall

Thursday 27th April 2017

As readers to this blog already know, one of our Liverymen was installed as a Master last December (Peter Rawlinson/Glass Sellers), now it’s the turn of ‘Young Archie Smith’ who stepped up to the gilded plate as Prime Warden of the WC Shipwrights a full week ago, but according to their tradition, was celebrating with his Installation Dinner only tonight. The traffic was diabolical – police had sealed Westminster in reaction to another Islamist threat, and so our cab had to divert to a tube where we found we’d no cards or oysters, only cash - and the machines didn’t take cash.. In the end we were told to tell them the other end, and they in turn didn’t care so let us through! Making it in time for a quick glass, I was pleased to see Archie in his gown and chain for a snap and then we were clapped in to the magnificent Drapers’ dining room. The Shipwrights are a bigger Company than us so had no problems filling the room and used a horseshoe head table which we didn’t. I sat opposite the previous Lady Mayoress (and Camilla, as you might expect, opposite Lord Mountevans, the IP Lord Mayor), the Senior Warden’s wife, Catherine and Liveryman Laura - all proved excellent company and were sportingly interested in my occupation as all Shipwrights should be. We had a terrific meal of smoked fish starter, Drapers’ beef Wellington (as at our dinner) and a lovely fruit pud. The Shipwrights’ maintain their own cellars, so a fine 2005 Medoc accompanied the beef and a delicious Sauternes with the pud, we were very spoiled. Dinner done, the guests were introduced as tradition dictates by the junior Warden, and then after a brief intro, the main guest, Vice Admiral Robin Boissier who’s Chief Exec of the RNLI spoke in a workmanlike manner about the role the service plays, costs and funding etc. Archie rounded it all up and we marched out briskly to a stirrup cup where I was very pleased to meet several other members who were all very interested in what I do – I worked hard to flog them something, so time will tell if that all pays off! It was also good to see Anne and Nicholas Somers (Master/Mistress Turner) who have become good chums over the year, I think Nicholas steps down soon; and also the Master Tin Plate Worker, Tony Steinthal who was installed about the same time as me and yet our paths had not crossed – which for a confirmed smoker was shocking. Needless to say we hit it off handsomely and I hope to attend his Livery Dinner in a week or two. All too soon it was time to go and the Mistress and I said our ‘thank you’s’ and joined assorted others all trying to Uber their way home.. it’s getting tougher it seems, and so it wasn’t until Mansion House we found a bit of clear ground to wait for one and enjoyed a small cigar to pass the time. Thank you Archie and all the Shipwrights for a grand evening and fine start to the new Prime Wardens’ Year. I’m sure he’ll be a credit to us!