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Sent to the Tower....

... And our Management Consultant predecessor, Perkin the Reveller

So what happens when you volunteer in your local Borough?  Readers will recall from our January Newsletter that Liveryman John Pulford MBE is the Chairman of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Conservation and Design Advisory Panel. This is a body which advises the borough's planners on sensitive planning applications. It is independent and is outside the hurly burly of the much publicised politics of Tower Hamlets. 

The Editor's enquiries about John's activities in that part of East London, which includes Canary Wharf, elicited a confession from him that he had recently been sent to the Tower of London.  John explained that the sentence to spend an evening chairing a meeting in the Tower came after all the visitors had left:  "It was all my fault. I was guilty of recruiting new members to our Panel. Then I couldn't face having to hold an induction meeting in deepest Blackwall, in a modern Town Hall lacking any of the redeeming features of the old town halls of the former London boroughs which were amalgamated to form Tower Hamlets. "

The Tower of London is not in the Square Mile, as many think, but is at the border of the borough with the City. It's obvious when you think about it, that the borough took its name from the Tower, which is the building imposed on the populous by the invading French, who started to build the Royal Palace and Fortress after the Norman invasion in 1066. The construction of the White Tower, from which the whole complex takes its name, was ordered by William the Conqueror in 1078. It was resented by Londoners of the time as a symbol of oppression inflicted on them by the new ruling elite. 

The search was on for a venue at which new members of the Panel could see examples of collaborative work between the planners, the Panel and a developer,  and look at a scheme which the Panel had previously critiqued - where better than the Tower of London? 

The White Tower shown in the photograph with the Panel before they were locked up for induction (it often seems like that, doesn't it?), was recently the subject of a six year conservation project, which involved costs of £3m and in which 35 different types of stone were identified, 709 new stones added, 1367 original stones re-fixed, using 36 tons of mortar (equivalent in weight to 400 Yeoman Warders).

When the Panel were released from the Waterloo Barracks, now including offices and meeting rooms, having been inducted in the wonders of the National Planning Policy Framework inflicted on the nation by Secretary of State Eric Pickles, they went in search of a restoration project. On Tower Wharf, now a public footpath alongside the Thames, below Tower Bridge, the first stop was the new working drawbridge opened in April 2014. The drawbridge was originally created in 1834 to allow munitions to be taken to the basement of the White Tower.

In search of sustenance, the doughty Panel headed to the Perkin Reveller, an acclaimed modernist design building which houses the Tower's newest cafe/bar/restaurant. For those who were not amongst the 2.9m visitors to the Tower in 2013, it was and is accessible from the Wharf without paying for entrance to the Tower. The Panel's advice was sought by the architect when the design was being finalised three years ago. Scholars of Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales, will know that he was a multi-tasking expert before we were called management consultants. He was Clerk of Works at the Tower between 1389 and 1391 and supervised the building of the Wharf.  Perkin the Reveller, was an Apprentice Chef in The Cook's Tale and was clearly a different kind of consultant, more partial to revelry than hard work. As someone who loved to eat, drink and dance he might still have been admitted to membership of a Livery Company. 


Liveryman John Pulford, MBE