Reflections on the life of a liveryman

Roger Salmond looks back over 32 years as a Liveryman and recognises the value of the networking and the camaradarie it brings

eflecting on what being a Liveryman has meant to me over the past 32 years – not as many as some, but many more than others – is that it is not the same as it did in the beginning and that meaning has, unsurprisingly, varied, too, over that time.


I joined the industry in 1962 aged 16, straight from school, as a trainee. I became a Liveryman in 1989 when many of the ‘industry legends’ and characters I had encountered, and in most cases admired, from a distance, were Past Masters. It was, as young people are apt to say these days, ‘awesome’. I felt a little anxious, but honoured to have been invited to join them. As managing director of a leading national laundry company I also felt that it was incumbent upon me to represent my organisation. It’s bad form to discuss business at a Livery function, but networking was useful and I enjoyed being able to entertain my leading customers, as well as friends and family, at the dinners and the annual banquets.

Then, all too quickly, came my first retirement from the industry and I decided that my budget couldn’t run to the Livery subs – Quarterages. I left for a short time and I missed i. The camaraderie, fun, laughter and good conversation, as well as ‘dressing-up’ once in while had clearly meant more to me than I had thought. I paid my back subs and was allowed to re-join, in fact I don’t think many had even known of my departure as it was less than a year.

The Master and Court were gracious enough to appoint me as a Court Assistant and the ‘apprenticeship’ began on the journey to becoming The Master Launderer some years hence. The journey included serving on each and all of the four Livery committees; Livery and Protocol, Finance, Benevolence and Training. Each was an education in itself. I later chaired Finance as Renter Warden, during a particularly challenging year and later, as a Past Master, Livery and Protocol, when I worked with the Learned Clerk to update and rewrite the Livery rulebook, The Book of Procedure. The most emotionally rewarding post, however, was serving on the Benevolence Committee. The WCL donates around £40,000 per year to charities serving our industry, The City and the Borough of Southwark, where our Livery Hall is situated. I would have loved to have ‘chaired’ Benevolence, but so did many other Past Masters. 2013-14, my year as The Master Launderer, was nothing like I have ever experienced or will again. The role of the Master Launderer is to represent our industry in the City of London. There are over 100 Livery Companies within the Square Mile and most events take place there. Living by the Central Line, 30 minutes from the City I was able to accept almost all the

22 LCN | June 2021

MASTER MIND: Roger Salmond when The Master with his daughter Emily at a WCL event

invitations received. Lectures, exhibitions - a wonderful one by The Goldsmith’s Company - and many dinners and banquets saw me in the City several times a week. I dined with the Air Pilot’s Company, in the presence of the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and chatted to HRH Prince Edward at a garden party he hosted as Master of the Gardener’s Company. I lunched with the judges at The Old Bailey and dined at The Mansion House, The Lord Mayor’s official residence, several times; it is, on reflection, something of a blur. For me though, no matter how many times I dine at The Mansion House, the magnificent splendour of the Egyptian Room and its associated history never fails to inspire.

Now I am a Past Master, working my way, year by year into oblivion, but happy to see the management and leadership of the WCL in safe, younger hands. Someone, not me, lamented on what had happened to the characters and industry legends of yesteryear? Gesturing to the Past Master’s benches, someone else said: “That’s you now.” ■

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