“Barbara Joins The Worshipful Company Of Plumbers”

Women in the Livery (WIL)

The following article was originally published in the March 2023 edition of The Roundel (news from the Association of RAF Women Officers) and is reproduced here with permission of the Editor Sue Arnold.

At the beginning of this year, I had the great honour of becoming a Liverymen of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers, in the City of London. It’s an ‘open’ Livery Company, which thankfully means you don’t have to be a plumber to join. This year marks a big effort to improve the diversity amongst Liverymen.

Reputed to be the friendliest Livery Company, I can report that it is certainly very sociable, having participated in the annual Livery Companies Pancake Race at the Guildhall Yard in the City last month:

Pitched against four Liverymen, I didn’t come last, so honour was satisfied.

The Company supports a number of related charities, and sponsors apprentice plumbers.

Finally, the history is amazing and part of the criteria for joining is to become a Freeman of the City of London. It’s wonderful for me to have a new interest and make new friends. If anyone is interested in joining or would like more information, please do contact me.

Liveryman Barbara Cooper



The Worshipful Company of Plumbers (WCoP) is one of the oldest Livery Companies in the City of London. We trace our history back to 1365.

Reading this you may be wondering what a Livery Company is and why a Livery Company with plumbing in its title you might interest you? Whilst our origins lie in setting and enforcing standards of excellence in plumbing and lead work, and we continue to nurture and promote the craft and its history, a large part of our activity today is charitable and educational work and support of the City of London and the Mayoralty.

The Plumbers’ Company is an open Livery Company. Around two thirds of our members have no prior association with plumbing or the water industry. We welcome members from many professions and trades: lawyers, engineers, administrators, and tax advisors, to name but a few.

We maintain a close association with all the armed services, awarding prizes and bursaries. We sponsor an award for the best airframe technician in Engineering Skills and Hydraulics at RAF Cosford. Our social programme often presents unique prospects for fun.

Many members join the Company for the opportunity to entertain guests, network and socialise in historic surroundings such as the London livery halls. We run up to two dozen events and activities each year. The highlight is our annual banquet staged at the Mansion House, an opportunity to dress up in splendid surroundings and take part in ancient traditions such as the ceremony of the loving cup. The social calendar varies from year to year but has included, a private viewing of the ceremony of the keys at the Tower of London, a tour of Concord, and a visit to the Magic Circle. We have active golf and sailing clubs.

In January, we were pleased to welcome retired Air Cdre Barbara Cooper CBE as a member. Our Master, this year, is retired Air Cdre Paul Nash OBE. Paul also formerly acted as Clerk to the Company.

Our charitable work is a key tenet of our activity. The money we raise is used for a variety of good causes, for example to provide meals for NHS staff during the pandemic, support ex-offenders back into employment and provide clean water emergency and disaster relief in war torn and developing countries.

As a member of the Livery, we can vote in the annual election for the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs of London. We support the Lord Mayors Charities and of course take part in the annual Lord Mayors Parade, the Inter-Livery pancake race and, to celebrate the ancient right of a Liveryman to drive sheep to market over the Thames, the annual London Bridge or Southwark Bridge Sheep Drive.

The Company is governed through a Court and Committees, and I sit on several of these. One of my responsibilities, is to encourage more women into membership. The small team I lead called Women in the Livery (WIL) have been highly active in promoting the diversity agenda and last year we made a short video on reasons to join our Livery Company.

The admissions process involves being introduced by a proposer and seconder. This might sound daunting, but please be assured we have a reputation for being a warm and friendly Company. Arrangements can be made to introduce prospective new members to a sponsor.

All members admitted go through the process to become Freemen of the City of London. After they obtain their Freedom certificate, they can be presented to the Court of the Company where they are ‘clothed as of the Livery’, when a gown is placed around their shoulders. The term “Liveryman” denotes that you have received your clothes or ‘Livery’ from the Company.

If you are interested in joining, the joining process is outlined on our website. If you would prefer to speak with someone, our friendly Company Clerk is always ready to advise. Why not make 2023 the year you enrich your life and make new friends and contacts.

Sandra Raine
Senior Court Assistant