Coachlines - March 2021

15.03.21 The Clerk

Clerk’s Notes – March 2021

Mark The Clerk

Mark The Clerk

On 16th March 1774, Matthew Flinders, the explorer and circumnavigator of Australia, was born in the small village of Donington in Lincolnshire, 10 miles north of Spalding. He was only 40 years old when he died in 1814 but during his short life he certainly made his mark. Joining the Royal Navy in 1789, he served as a Midshipman under Captain Bligh on the latter’s second breadfruit voyage following the ill-fated venture in HMS BOUNTY, and he served in HMS BELLEROPHON under Captain Paisley in the battle known as the Glorious First of June in 1794. Paisley lost his leg to an 18-pound shot during the battle and although both survived the ordeal, subsequently Flinders (not unreasonably) decided to pursue a preference for exploratory rather than military naval commissions.

For much of the rest of his life Flinders spent his years exploring and mapping what became known as Australia and Tasmania and, perhaps surprisingly for a Pom, he is still highly regarded in parts of modern Australia. If you don’t know Flinders’ story you may have heard the report in 2019 that his final resting place had been re-discovered during expansion work at Euston Railway Station as part of the HS2 project; a case of the explorer re-discovered after laying beneath a platform at Euston Station for more than 100 years, courtesy of some over-enthusiastic and rather insensitive Victorian developers. Once the pandemic has passed, it is intended that Flinders will be re-interred at the Church of St Mary and the Holy Rood in Donington where he was baptised.

The late Graeme Murray Walker OBE

The Clerk meeting Murray Walker OBE

The Clerk meets Murray Walker OBE

It is said that one should never meet one’s heroes because more often than not one is left slightly disappointed. However, on the handful of occasions that I had the privilege of briefly meeting and talking to my hero, I was never left disappointed. The news that Murray Walker had passed away therefore left me feeling rather sad but not deflated. My thoughts are with his family and friends left behind but he was a good age and although he is now gone, from my perspective, the memories that he helped shape over his long lifetime will always make me smile.

Everyone will have their own Murray Walker stories, whether they met him or not, but forgive me for sharing one of mine. At the 2008 Goodwood Revival, Murray was in attendance at one of the booksellers’ stalls in the Over-the-Road area signing the not-long published Murray Walker Scrapbook. I duly purchased my copy and waited patiently in line for him to sign it for me. The gentleman immediately in front of me in the queue was dressed in a smart tweed suit and his companion was elegantly dressed in a suitably period-appropriate dress. Murray noticed this and as he signed the book the gentleman’s lady friend took photographs. Murray said: “Is that young lady with you?” “Yes” said the chap. “She looks very elegant” said Murray; “yes”, said the chap, “we got everything off Ebay last month”. “Ah”, said Murray, “Ebay, I’ve heard of that”. And then it was my turn.

Barely able to contain my excitement I explained to Murray that I had arrived at the Revival that day riding a 1956 Matchless G3LS that I had also purchased via Ebay.; and without waiting for a reply I also told him that I’d bought a Second World War despatch rider’s coat to go with it. “Ah”, said Murray, “I was given one of those when they were first issued”.

Rest in peace Mr Walker and thank you for all the memories.

Upcoming Coachmaker events

As the Government’s roadmap continues to unfold, for the foreseeable future Coachmaker activities will remain confined to the virtual environment of Zoom. However, plans are being made to provide Livery Committee arranged events in the real world as soon as restrictions allow and planning will soon commence in the hope that the Summer Court event planned for 8th July 2021 may also be able to go ahead in person, so-to-speak. Continue to watch this space.

City Livery Briefing

For a comprehensive briefing of events and updates from the City Corporation, a copy of the City Livery Briefing can be found here. Some of what it contains has already appeared in previous editions of Coachlines but there is much that has not, so do take the trouble to look at it.

Stealthy submariners

With the details of Assistant Richard Haycocks’ grandfather and his 1st World War underwater experiences in submarine G-4 still fresh in your minds, I bring you more details sent to me by my good friend, the Clerk to the Cooks’ Company:

I wrote to a number of you in November last year bringing to your attention the plan that is under way to build a new Memorial to Submariners and their families at the National Arboretum in Staffordshire. Since then, tremendous progress has been made; the national competition to help inspire the final design was held successfully and three professional designers subsequently submitted ideas based on the winning competition entry. From those three, a fabulous design by Paul Day, based on an iconic submarine fin, has been chosen. You can see the design on the Memorial website,, including an animation of how the memorial will eventually look when it is in place.

The plan is to dedicate the Memorial in 2022. HRH Prince William, as Commodore in-Chief Submarines, will perform the dedication ceremony.

With all best wishes,
Peter Wilkinson
Clerk to the WCO Cooks
Chairman Submariner Memorial Appeal

You may recognise Peter more readily as Vice-Admiral Peter Wilkinson CB CVO who served as the National President of the Royal British Legion from October 2012 until May 2016.

It can be grim ‘oop north

However, for all you Liverymen who reside on the climatically cooler side of the Watford Gap you may be interested to know about plans for the Brigantes Northern Liverymen Breakfast. This will be held on Tuesday 24 August 2021 at the Garden Rooms of Tennants Auctioneers, Leyburn DL8 5SG, the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales (somewhere in the North I’m told). For more details contact

Clerkship vacancy: French Hospital Almshouse, Kent

For those who have looked in the mirror and like Sergei the Meerkat, you have decided to “sort your life”, you may be interested to know that the French Hospital Almshouse in Kent is seeking a new Clerk requiring intellectual dexterity, confidence, fine judgement and excellent communication skills. The fact that Clerks are expected to have those qualities may come as a surprise to many of you but the art of good clerking is discretion and therefore rarely are such qualities overtly displayed. Nonetheless the incumbent in this role will work closely with Trustees on all matters relating to governance, compliance, finance and future strategy. He/she will be responsible for all operational matters, leading a small, dedicated staff and reporting to the Board as necessary. The Clerk oversees the Charity’s engagement with others and conducts public relations as necessary. Should anyone wish to apply for this position, the closing date is: 31st March at 5pm; applications with CV and covering letter to be e-mailed to

A job description and personal specification can be found here.

The French Hospital has been at the forefront of supporting Huguenots in need since it was founded in 1718. Today, it provides affordable sheltered accommodation, primarily for those of Huguenot descent, which allows their residents to live full, dignified and independent lives in Rochester, Kent. The Hospital was designated a World Heritage site in 1970.

The Company of Watermen’s River Thames Luncheon Club

Following the announcement of the Government’s roadmap and the return of hospitality, The Cook and The Butler Catering Company has asked me to share with you that it is delighted to offer the opportunity to take luncheon in Watermen’s Hall to make up for the many disappointments of the forced cancellation of the past few months.

This facility will commence on Monday 17th May 2021 and then every Friday in late May and the whole of June and July. Bookings will be restricted to parties of six to the end of June, but as ever a warm welcome will await you and your guests. Reception 12.30pm Luncheon 12.45pm please email reservations to:

In summary

Lincolnshire lads have been sailing forth under the White Ensign for centuries and my own Antipodean adventure took place in 1986. It was nothing like the history-making adventures of Matthew Flinders but it had its moments; although if you want to know what I thought about the world down under, you’ll have to wait until next we meet.

Stay safe and I hope that your vaccine side effects weren’t quite as dramatic as mine – man-flu with knobs on I described it as; ‘typically pathetic’ is how the Assistant Clerk described it. I’m now really looking forward to Part 2 in May.