Coachlines - October 2020

04.10.20 The Clerk

Clerk’s notes October 2020

As described by William James in Volume 4 of his tome entitled: The Naval History of Great Britain from 1793 to 1820: On the morning of the 21st of October 1805 “At 6h.40m. A.M. the Victory made the signals (Nos. 72 and 13,) to form the order of sailing in two columns, and to prepare for battle.”

The subsequent events of that day became known as the Battle of Trafalgar and history was made.

Mark The Clerk

Mark The Clerk

Two hundred years later in late June of 2005, the Royal Navy commemorated those events over two days leading into a four-day International Festival of the Sea, all based in and around Portsmouth, see:

As a fill-in between appointments your Clerk was seconded to the Trafalgar 200 Project Team with specific responsibilities to help organise and deliver the Tall Ship re-enactment of the Battle just off Southsea Beach, including the associated Son et Lumiere, performed on the evening of 28th June 2005.

The show included a 30-minute break to allow the various Portsmouth ferries to return and depart as required. To keep the estimated crowd of 300,000 people entertained during this break a series of interviews were broadcast on Radio Victory and the extensive sound system installed on Southsea Common, both of which were being used to relay the actor Robert Hardy’s commentary of the events on the water.

In addition to the words of the First Sea Lord, the Commander-in-Chief Fleet and various young sailors who had been interviewed specifically for this piece I had the idea that it might be possible to find an early recording of someone who might have remembered and spoken of the 100th anniversary of the battle in 1905. Unfortunately several hours searching the Imperial War Museum’s sound archive failed to locate such a piece. However, I did find interviews recorded in the 1970s of elderly retired Royal Navy sailors who had been serving in the early 1900s and whose tales did resonate with the Battle of Trafalgar.

One of them described sailing with the Grand Fleet from Scapa Flow and feeling as though “we were sailing to our own Battle of Trafalgar,” while another described the Commodore in command of the destroyer squadron in which he served at Jutland as  “having the Nelson touch.”  The third however was pure gold because he described his time as a young sailor and what it was like to be accommodated in HMS VICTORY in 1906 when she was still afloat and being used as an accommodation ship in Portsmouth Harbour. His talk of stowing his hammock in the netting of the ship’s side every morning and scrubbing the decks with holy stones took everyone back to 1805.

As part of my T200 responsibilities I was also acting as a Duty Watch Captain in charge of the T200 Operations Room in Semaphore Tower in the dockyard and I was on watch that night from midnight to 0800 the following morning. However, with so many people on Southsea Common I decided that if I had stayed to the end of the show I would struggle to get back to the dockyard by midnight and so I made my way back during the 30-minute break.

As I walked along Southsea sea front I realised that almost everyone was listening to the voices of the elderly retired sailors booming out across the Common. I could not help but wonder what those old salts would have thought if they had known that one day their words would be broadcast to over 300,000 people on Southsea Common and beyond. It was history making history, and it made me smile.

Coachmaker events

Returning to the present and the world is still in a state of some disarray as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic breaks. Most City events have been cancelled into 2021 or have been re-arranged as online only activities. However the Master is working hard to organise an Aerospace Industry Event to be held on Monday 9th November. It will look very different to the traditional annual Coachmaker Aerospace Industry Livery Dinner and much of it will also happen in the virtual environment, but it will at least mark the occasion and hopefully bring many members together in traditional Livery fellowship, albeit through the magical properties of the wigglyamp. Details will be distributed separately within the next few days.

Concurrently, the Master is working hard with the Livery Committee to organise and deliver the series of Zoom based events themed as 60 Minutes with… The first two such events have been held and have been very successful. However, the Master has been told that a number of Liverymen were disappointed that they had not been aware of them earlier because when the electronic adverts were distributed, many members found that the date clashed with pre-existing diary commitments.

The Livery Committee is working to ensure that the adverts for future events are released earlier but in the meantime please refer to the Save the Date booklet that was distributed to all Coachmakers in early September. In it you will find the planned dates for all the main Livery Dinners and receptions out to July 2021 and also the dates of the planned Livery Committee events up to December 2020. For those who might have mislaid their hard copies, a soft copy can be accessed here.

Other City events

Lord Mayor’s Show – 14 Nov 20. Unfortunately despite the best efforts of the Lord Mayor’s Office, the City Corporation and the Pageant Master, current Government restrictions have led to the cancellation of the much amended Lord Mayor’s Show that was to have been held in the Guildhall Yard on Saturday 14th November. However, the Master and the Master Wheelwright are working hard to arrange an alternative event that Coachmakers will be able to participate in online. More details will be distributed once they have been decided.

‘Voices of the City’. The ‘Voices of the City’ series of interviews created by author and blogger Paul Jagger (Information Technologists’ Co) has now accumulated 15 encounters in promoting the City of London and its Livery Companies. Contributors include past and present Sheriffs, Common Councilmen, Past Masters and leaders of City societies, clubs and institutions. You can catch up with this engaging series at this blog link: Paul also presents an invaluable source of interesting stories on his own City & Livery blog here:

In Celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday. In partnership with the Stationers’ Company, the Hanover Band has recorded Beethoven’s Symphonies at Stationers’ Hall which are available to stream. Originally intended to be performed in various Livery Halls, these concerts have now been obliged to move to the virtual world. Full details can be found here.

Petitioning for a Coat of Arms. For those of you interested in this fascinating subject, you may be considering elevating your family image, details of a forthcoming workshop on the subject can be found here.

Painters’ Company Art Sale. The Painters’ Art Sale website  was launched on the 7th September. Every work displayed in this all new online selling exhibition of original paintings and drawings is being sold at the same affordable price of £300. There is no entry fee and the artist will receive £205 for each work sold and the balance will go to support the Painter-Stainers’ Scholarship scheme at London Art Colleges. The sale runs until 31st December and as new pictures are being vetted and added every week please do ensure that you visit the site on a regular basis.

Online Bridge. The Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards are calling any Livery Company members who enjoy playing Bridge to join them on the 12th October 2020. Their Bridge Committee has put in place a series of quarterly online Inter-Livery Bridge afternoons, with the hope that the annual event at Drapers’ Hall in March 2021 can still be “real”; for more details see here. 

Finance Manager Vacancy: St James Garlickhythe. St James Garlickhythe, ‘Wren’s Lantern’, a parish church in the heart of the City and the Church of the Coachmakers’ Company, is seeking a new Finance Officer. As well as regular Sunday and weekday services St James is host and spiritual home to some 15 Livery Companies and other organisations: see St Michael Paternoster Square lies within the parish and is Guild Church to several more Liveries. The present incumbent is retiring after 12 years in the role. The post is part-time and remuneration up to circa £5,000 per annum will be offered. Applications should be made to the Priest-in-Charge, Father Tim Handley:

In summary

2020 will probably be regarded as one of the most challenging years in modern history that we have faced individually, as a nation and as members of the wider population of the world. The effects and consequences of the events of this year are likely to be felt by those of you who are reading this for the remainder of your lives. That is a sobering thought. Ergo it is perhaps worth remembering from time to time that we should focus on the good things that still happen and remember the Coachmakers’ motto: After the Clouds, the Sun.

I had cause to ride a motorcycle on a 300-mile round trip the other day; it was just about the first time that I had ventured forth beyond the weekly shopping run to the local Tesco since mid-March. The bike I was riding was a variant of a particular model that I had been looking for, for some time. The fact that I had found it, bought it and managed to get it home just days before lockdown was good in some ways but frustrating in others because it had hardly been used since then. However, on one day last week it was a lovely day, the sun did shine, the bike ran perfectly and it made me smile.