City of London Livery Companies
Since the City of London's earliest days the artisans and tradesmen who worked in the City have endeavoured to organise their trades. Their aims were to ensure that the numbers employed should match the work available, that only skilled people were allowed to oversee the work, that journeymen were properly employed and that the training of young people was structured and organised. They also ensured that the prices charged for their services were reasonable and that the goods or services they provided were of fair standard. They therefore banded together and set up companies of like-minded people to achieve these aims.
As time passed, these companies became formally recognised and they acquired considerable influence in the City. Their senior members became the electors of the City and no one could make progress without membership and the backing of a company. Many companies became wealthy and were able to purchase property and to build halls where they could carry out their day-to-day business and meet to discuss trade and political matters. They also used these halls to entertain their members and friends. Additionally, their prosperity allowed them to care for the poor, old or infirm members. The more senior and distinguished members were allowed to wear a distinctive form of clothing, which was known as a livery, and thus the companies became known as Livery Companies.
In the early days these companies had to meet in a clandestine way, as they were illegal. Therefore, many were disguised as religious organisations in order to meet and carry out their business. Although poorly documented as a result, it is known that several companies were in existence in the twelfth century and their number grew considerably as time went on.
Formation of our livery Company
The Guild was formed in October 1955 by members of the Industry and with the support of the Clockmakers and the Spectacle Makers Companies, to foster scientific instrument making and to promote goodwill in the science and craft of measurement and instrumentation. One of the founder firms at that time was known to date back to 1640. Grant of Arms was achieved in 1956 and the Letters Patent as a Livery Company of City of London were granted in 1963.