Dear Plaisterers, as this lockdown continues, many of us are still getting on with our lives behind closed doors, often in isolation, or distanced from our loved ones. For some, the time has been used reflecting on the past and the important things that matter. As Master of this ancient Livery Company, my thoughts have turned to our trade and beautiful plasterwork.
I will admit, it has been the Enhancement to our Entrance Hall project and following progress in the catalogue of photographs on our website that prompted me to contact again some of our craft members. Their skills and love for their trade should have a platform at the very heart of our Company. Many of these craft plasterers do not live in London. They are scattered around the country, which means we do not often get an opportunity to meet and acknowledge them at our formal dinners, other than at the Training Awards Luncheon.
Some are still active plasterers. Many are retired or semi-retired concerned that their skills are not being passed on to the next generation. Think of all the great houses and historic buildings in this country and with pride I can say many of our craft members have been actively involved in their conservation. We need to hear more about the work they do and their love for producing beautiful plasterwork.
From one of our member’s, I learned about the plastering dynasty on Merseyside, into which he was born, but by the time he began his apprenticeship in 1973, the glory days of plastering were ‘truly over’. His father then was the last man standing who could run moulded sections in situ. But he passed his skills on to his son who worked on historic buildings as well as new social housing, schools etc. As a plasterer then he was expected to be able to apply any material to any surface under any circumstances. The subdivision of the trade had yet to come.
By the time his apprenticeship was over, the march of dry lining was gathering pace and most of the new housing was beginning to be clad internally with plasterboard. As a fully-fledged ‘heritage’ plasterer, he spent much of his working life on projects for the National Trust and English Heritage and his list of projects are impressive.
Just one story that came my way as a result of those phone calls. Another phone call introduced me to Sean Wheatley, an Associate of the Company when we were running that scheme. I will not go into Sean’s story, because he will be making a Presentation to the Company on Thursday, 25 March. Please register for that because like me you will learn of his love for his craft and his drive and determination to ensure his skills are passed on. To our craft members, I implore you to zoom in and support Sean.
I will continue to update you on our craft members over the coming months.
Which brings me back to the Enhancement to our Entrance Hall project. I was completely wowed by the photographs posted on the 24 February. Our first glimpse of that magnificent Dome taking shape. We can only observe this from afar, but Past Master Robert Dalrymple has been there since day one, witnessing the concept becoming a reality.
He was there during the ‘cover-up’, when Lee and Josh took all measures to ensure everything was boarded up and protected; when the scaffolding went up and that photograph of Robert on top of the scaffolding, master (Past Master) of all he surveyed; when the Dome went in and that photograph of Robert with Assistant Jon Riley (in his Locker and Riley role). Both men standing proudly in front of the glass entrance doors with that Dome in place in the ceiling behind them. I cannot wait for the next instalment of photographs and the finished product.
Locker and Riley, together with Past Master Terry Wright are keeping a working record on the project and this will be shared with us at sometime in the future. We will do our best to ensure we have an ‘Opening Ceremony’. I want to cut the ribbon!
Through the craftwork of Locker and Riley we will have an Entrance Hall to be proud of and one the late John Robinson, our benefactor would have approved of.
Let us drink to the Daubers and Gypsum Absorbers
The Makers of beautiful Plaster