Paviors’ Past Master Ian Dussek has recently updated his history of the Worshipful Company of Paviors, titled Children of Stones. This is the definitive history of the Paviors and traces the Company’s origins as one of the City of London’s guilds, with records of the Company go back to 1276.
As with earlier editions, the book attempts to explain how the Paviors Company came into being and chronicles its history alongside that of the City of London itself showing (should it still be necessary) that the streets of London were paved with anything but gold. It starts with a description of the origin and growth of the City of London and, in particular, its road network. Guilds started to appear in the thirteenth century, with the Paviors petitioning the City to give them authority over the craft of paving in 1479. The Company continued to operate throughout the middle ages, but often had to fight for survival in a number of ways that are described in the book. However, the Company did eventually go into a decline in the nineteenth century, largely as a result of the industrial revolution and the extensive development of railways as a major means of transportation.
In 1889, with Victorian Britain ‘exploding in a frenzy of commercial, military and expansionist activity’, six key players in the construction industry, led by George Burt of the Mowlem Company, decided to revive the Paviors Company. The Company became active in promoting the craft of paving through a series of prizes for outstanding contributions to professional knowledge. The Company has gone from strength-to-strength since then, with its membership increasing from 60 liverymen in the 1920s to over 300 today. In the late twentieth century, the Company undertook a number of reforms to modernize its activities and this culminated, in 2004, with the successful petition for a Royal Charter – the previous petition in 1673 having been inexplicably turned down. In 2009, the Company opened its own premises: Paviors’ House, situated in the grounds of the Charterhouse.
Ian’s book brings the Company’s history right up-to-date, describing the Company’s three main aims of promoting excellence in the craft of paving, support of charitable activities related to paving and to the City of London and, thirdly, fellowship. The book is a fascinating read, is well-illustrated, and provides a valuable contribution to knowledge of the Company. Congratulations and thanks are due to Ian on a splendid achievement.