Modern Companies' Spring Dinner

Monday 18th March 2019

The history of the Livery Companies of the City of London traces back to medieval times when guilds were first formed to organise trades and industries, establishing best practices and product standards, apprenticeships and licenses for market participants. These guilds were granted charters by the Crown to conduct their activities in return for levies and taxes. The model was very successful and over many centuries the numbers of Livery Companies grew and they prospered. However, by the early 18th Century, Livery Companies went into decline, the last Livery Company of that age to be formed was the Fan Makers in 1709. There were then no new Livery Companies for almost 220 years until 1926 when the Honourable Company of Master Mariners was formed. The Master Mariners' Company was determined to be number 78 in the order of precedence and is the first Modern Livery Company. Since that time a further 31 Livery Companies have been formed including our own.

It has become the habit of the Modern Companies to bring together their respective Masters and Senior Wardens for a biannual dinner. Responsibility for organising each dinner falls to a Modern Company with the baton being passed on in the order of precedence. For this Spring Dinner, it was the Hackney Carriage Drivers that performed the honours.

An impressive 29 of the 32 Modern Companies were represented as the Master of the Hackney Carriage Drivers, Phill Davis, presided over the occasion at the historic Waterman's Hall. The Master chose a particularly fine menu accompanied by delicious wines. He had also invited Alderman Alison Gowman as Principal Guest who provided us with an engaging and thought-provoking speech on the strengths of the City of London on the eve of Brexit. The heavy subject matter was lightened by Alison's sharp wit and humour.

It was an excellent evening and one of the few occasions where Modern Livery Masters and Senior Wardens can break bread with their peers. It was also another opportunity for Phill Davis to demonstrate his skill at hosting fine events in what has been a signal year for the Hackney Carriage Drivers Company.