Records of the Paviors date back to 1280, when Paviors were first made responsible for the repair and cleaning of London’s streets and pavements. The trade included ‘gong ferming’, the emptying and cleansing of privies, a profitable business carried out in appalling conditions. In 1302, four Paviors were appointed as Surveyors of Pavements to regulate the making of pavements; further surveyors were appointed in 1311, not all of whom were Paviors, and this led to conflicts of interest between guilds.
In 1479, the Company’s Ordinances were approved by the City Corporation giving it formal authority over the ‘craft or mystery of paving’. Its activities included not only the regulation of the skill but also charitable support of poorer brethren. In 1515, the Lord Mayor placed the Company number 56 in the order of precedence of livery companies. The Company flourished until the early 19th century when its control of street works and industry practices diminished.
Grant of Livery
In 1889, the Company revived and it received a modern Grant of Livery in 1900. Since then, the Company has prospered, supporting the paving industry and playing an active part in the civic life of the City. The Company provided six Lord Mayors and twelve Sheriffs during the 20th century and, in 2010, Pavior Michael Bear was elected Lord Mayor.
Modernization and Royal Charter
During 1999 and 2000, the Company undertook a comprehensive review of its Ordinances, Rules and Standing Orders and modernized many of its practices. In 2003, the City of London’s Court of Aldermen approved the restated and updated Ordinances. Later the same year, the Company petitioned Her Majesty the Queen for a Royal Charter of Incorporation, some 330 years after an unsuccessful petition to Charles II in 1673 which, for reasons not now recorded, was vetoed by the Court of Aldermen. A Royal Charter was granted on 11 February 2004.
In 2010, Paviors’ House was opened in the grounds of The Charterhouse, some 344 years after the Company’s previous property was burnt down in the Great Fire of London.