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Argent secure Watermens Hall contract

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Argent are pleased to announce the securing of the contract to provide building services maintenance and 24/7 responsive repairs for Watermens Hall.

The Company of Watermen and Lightermen was established by Act of Parliament in 1555 to control the Watermen on the River Thames responsible for the movement of goods and passengers. Indeed it remains the only ancient City Guild to be formed and controlled by Act of Parliament.

From ancient times the Thames has been a main highway for moving people and goods from the Estuary to London and beyond. The use of ferries was the only link across the river before the building of the first London Bridge by the Romans. This was the first blow to the Watermens profession. However evidence of the importance of the river was provided by Stow, who in his survey of 1598 related that some 40,000 men earned a living on or about the River.

The Act of 1514 passed by Parliament regulated the fares charged on the Thames. However the Watermen who carried passengers continued to act independently and an Act of 1555 appointed the Rulers of all Watermen and Wherrymen working between Gravesend and Windsor, thus the Company was born. The Act of 1555 also introduced apprenticeships for a term of one year for all boys wishing to learn the watermens trade and this was extended to seven years by a further Act in 1603.

The Act of 1827 was very important, as, for the first time, the Company of Watermen became completely independent and a corporate body with its own seal.

The present Hall dates from 1780 and remains the only original Georgian Hall in the City of London. It was designed by William Blackburn and is a perfect example of eighteenth century domestic architecture.

The Hall was extended in 1983 to include a more substantial dining and meeting facility, the Freemen’s Room, which blends in perfectly with the intimate atmosphere of the Court Room, the Silver Room and Parlour to form a suite of rooms that are both elegant and adaptable to modern day requirements.

Published on: April 29, 2012

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