2023 Common Hall

This year’s Common Hall took place on Thursday, 19th January, on board HQS Wellington, which is moored up near Temple Pier on The Embankment. The vessel is the livery hall of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners. Paviors were particularly privileged as Wellington was about to be taken out of commission because of concerns about the condition of the ship’s fabric. The Paviors’ event was the last function of any sort to be held on board the ship.

A Court meeting was held immediately before Common Hall when Alan Thomson was admitted to the Livery. Following this, a reception was held to welcome all attendees. While this was happening, all those present were invited to have their photograph taken for inclusion on the new Paviors’ website. The Clerk of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners also gave liverymen a brief talk on the ship’s history and of his Company.

The main meeting took place in the Court Room of the vessel, located on the lower deck. To reach this room, liverymen descended the elegant wooden staircase salvaged from a scrapped passenger liner in Belfast and retrofitted to HQS Wellington. Participants were seated at tables of eight, each hosted by one of the Pavior committee chairs. The Master, Neil Sandberg, welcomed everyone and noted being particularly pleased with the number of younger members attending. He then invited Second Warden-in-Nomination, Alex Malmaeus, to describe progress with the new Paviors’ website, which he did by screening some sample pages from the new site. He emphasized the need for the Company to use the new site as an important medium for communicating with the membership.

Participants were served dinner: a smoked-salmon starter, chicken, and a chocolate mousse dessert. These were washed down with Picpoul de Pinet and Côtes-du-Rhône wines. During a break in eating, the Master invited questions on any aspects of the Company that participants wished to raise. The main item of discussion was the Company’s use of social media and its relation to younger and potential members’ engagement. Liveryman Tim Fitch described how his other company, the Constructors, successfully used social media to engage with younger people. Several questions and comments were made from the floor about how the Paviors might move forward in this area.

The Master invited Upper Warden and Master-Elect, John May, to outline his plans for the coming year. He mentioned that steps were currently being put in place to make the London Construction Academy an independent charity, enabling it to attract funds from various sources. He noted that the Paviors were one of several livery companies funding the provision of the canopy under which the new King will be crowned in Westminster Abbey on 6th May. Liverymen would also be invited to a special service at St Paul’s Cathedral to celebrate 300 years since the death of Sir Christopher Wren. The Master-Elect mentioned several other things and listed several livery halls where dinners and meetings were planned.

The Master then thanked everyone for coming and closed the meeting, thus allowing participants to have informal discussions amongst themselves before departing.

One Pavior wrote to thank the Master:

On Thursday night, I took a minor part in something that I now realise was rather special. Having access to a ship like HQS Wellington is priceless, but taking part in a Livery Court and bringing in a new Member is very special. Why? Well, in the 747-year history of the Paviors, how many times the Master and Wardens have held Court outside the City, afloat on a ship?

Not only that, but I witnessed The Master confirming our new Liveryman as he dodged around the ship’s bell of the SS Ohio. So, Alan Thompson was confirmed as a Member afloat and within inches of the ship’s bell off one of the most famous merchant vessels in history. The George Cross was awarded to her Captain for the tremendous gallantry shown in August 1942 during the relief of Malta.

I think that is a WOW moment all round.