The desirability of enhancing the status of the builders’ merchants industry was discussed in the spring of 1958 by the Executive Committee of Building Industry Distributors. One suggestion was made by Mr R. L. Crowther, the Association’s solicitor, that this might be effected by the formation of a Guild or Company to develop charitable and educational work and which might ultimately attain the dignity of a Livery Company of the City of London. A committee of eight, nearly all Liverymen of various City Companies, made recommendations for the formation of a Company and the terms upon which membership would be considered.
The inaugural meeting of the Company was held on 29th March 1961 and was attended by 40 senior members of the industry under the chairmanship of Mr Charles F. Golton. The Ordinances, prepared following discussions with the then City Chamberlain, Sir Irving Gane, were adopted. After due nomination the first Court was unanimously elected as follows:
Charles F. Golton, Master; George L. Wilson, Senior Warden; S. George Reed, Junior Warden; Richard L. Crowther, Clerk, and the following Court Assistants – W. F. C. Bucknell, H. J. Budd, R. Chapman, E. V. Dawson, W. J. Farrant, C. N. Gandy, E. P. Gray, E. Jameson, V. S. Niblett and F. H. Quinnell.
The Court of Assistants thus constituted first met on 17th May 1961. The first 60 Members joined the Company by the 20th October 1961 and became Founder Members. In its progress towards attaining full Livery status, the Company was granted recognition as a City Company without a grant of Livery on the 12th September, 1972. In April 1975, the College of Arms granted armorial ensigns to the Company, and J. P. Brooke-Little, Esq, Richmond Herald of Arms, presented the Letters Patent to the Master at the Annual Dinner at Plaisterers Hall in October 1976.
A petition to the Court of Aldermen of the City of London for a grant of Livery was lodged in April 1977 and on 19th July the petition was approved. The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor at the time, Alderman Sir Robin Gillett, made the formal presentation of the Letters Patent to the Master at a ceremony at the Mansion House on 7th November 1977. The first lady to be admitted became a Freeman on 19th April 1982 and took the Livery later that year.
The first Annual Dinner was held in October 1961 in the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Innholders, and each year subsequently the Company was privileged to dine at a City Livery Hall until 1978. It then entered into an arrangement with the Worshipful Company of Carpenters whereby their Hall became available as a home for the Company, and for a number of years Carpenters’ Hall became the normal venue for Annual Livery Dinners and Court functions. Nowdays Court functions are usually held at Painters’ Hall and the Annual Livery Dinner is a Livery Hall chosen each year by the Master. The Company was privileged to dine at the Mansion House in 1978, 1981 and most recently in 1985, at the inauguration of its Jubilee Year.
In pursuance of its educational objects the Company, in conjunction with the Builders Merchants Federation, sponsored the formation of the Institute of Builders Merchants. Continuing support has been rendered to the Institute throughout its life.
The Company in making its annual donations gives priority to charities connected with the Industry such as the Royal Metal Trades Benevolent Society, Liverymen and their dependents in need, and furthermore contributes to City of London appeals and other charities.
An Annual Service is held in the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula in HM Tower of London, by permission of the Resident Governor, and the Company is also represented annually at the United Guilds Service in St Paul’s Cathedral.