Plumbers’ tribute to Covid heroes

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The role of St Bartholomew’s staff during the Covid-19 pandemic has been recognised by a group of Master Plumbers on 17th May 2022. Craftsmen and women from the Worshipful Company of Plumbers made and gifted a lead planter to the hospital as a thank you for its response to the crisis.

The Master, Nick Jones, presenting the planter to Charles Knight, Chief Executive of St Bartholomew’s Hospital


Weighing around half a tonne, the planter pays homage to the ‘devoted service and selfless dedication’ by all of the NHS over the past two years.

The ornate design, on show in the hospital square, includes the Plumber’s Company coat of arms, St Bartholomew’s Hospital shield and George Cross that was awarded to the NHS on its 73rd birthday.

The inscription on the planter reads: “Presented to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in recognition of the devoted service and selfless dedication by all of the National Health Service during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Those attending included Charles Knight – Chief Executive together with members of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Common Councilman Wendy Mead, Volunteers from the Plumbing and Workshop Trust, Valerie Mills – Director of Amberley Museum, Amanda Oaks from West Way Covid Vaccination Centre, and members of the Plumbers’ Company


Derived from the Latin word ‘plumbum’ meaning lead, the origins of plumbing can be traced back to Roman times when lead was used for piping and conduits. In the Middle Ages, plumbers made sure the roofs of cathedrals, castles and other large buildings were waterproofed by lead.

Since the Worship Company of Plumbers was established in 1365 to regulate the profession as a City of London Livery Company and charitable institution, we are very much dedicated to enhancing the current profession and preserving the ancient craft. As plumbers we have a long history of lead casting, a skill on show at the Amberley industrial heritage museum in West Sussex where the Company have a live demonstration facility and where the planter was made. Our Master Nick Jones said they “wanted to pay their own special tribute”.


The Master, Nick Jones with members of the Plumbing Museum and Workshop Trust, who made the planter at our demonstration facility in the Amberley Working Museum. Left to Right: Eddie McCourt, Nick Jones, Peter Cheesman, Alan Stocks and Jon Richards


Similar works are on display in the Guildhall, Buckingham Palace and at Sandringham House in Norfolk.

In 2020 a team of blacksmiths from a Lincolnshire forge also gifted a bench to St Bartholomew’s. Shaped in a rainbow motif – symbolising the nation’s gratitude towards the NHS during Covid – it is forged out of brass, copper and steel and engraved with ‘thank you’ in 16 different languages.