WCSM and the City

The livery companies and the City of London have developed and adapted together over the centuries to sustain London’s importance as a financial and business centre.

As at April 2023 there are 110 full Livery Companies, as well as other companies and guilds without livery.

The Spectacle Makers’ Company takes an active part in City life, including working alongside other liveries to encourage skills and promote career opportunities in the areas in which our members work.  

The image above shows award winners from several livery companies under the 2023 Master Certificate Scheme, including three young people pursuing careers as optical assistants and one working as a technician in an optical lab.

Spectacle Makers are pleased to enjoy very strong relationships with other Livery Companies – particularly the Health Group (Apothecaries, Barbers, Cutlers and Nurses) and those with interests in science (the Clockmakers, Lightmongers and Scientific Instrument Makers).

The livery companies still provide the City with its 25 Aldermen, and they are responsible for nominating one of them each year to act as its presiding officer, the Lord Mayor of the City of London. Since 1475, Liverymen have also had the exclusive right to elect the City’s Sheriffs. 

The elections of the Sheriffs and of the Lord Mayor take place in “Common Hall” in Guildhall, at the end of June and the end of September, respectively, each year. All Masters of the Livery Companies process into the Hall and all Liverymen who have satisfied the time period for qualification have the right to attend and vote by outcry. We encourage all Liverymen to participate at least once in this traditional ceremony, one of the oldest in the City of London.

Today, the formal link between the companies and the City is through the Livery Committee. The Livery Committee’s website is the ideal way to find out more about Livery Companies: see www.liverycommittee.org

Besides organising and supervising the two annual meetings of Common Hall, the Livery Committee’s key tasks are:

– To maintain a close liaison with the Mansion House and Officers of the City of London Corporation on matters affecting the livery companies generally.
– To research and advise livery companies on current practice and to develop best practice generally.
– To act as a forum to which livery companies can bring matters of concern for discussion.

The Livery Committee organises regular courses for new Freemen and Liverymen, Wardens, Clerks and Masters. Please contact the Clerk for more information.