1666 – present
Emerging from the ashes
During the eighteenth century, the Carpenters’ Company looked to land and property investments for income. A 63-acre farm in the parish of West Ham, near Stratford, was a notable purchase in 1767.
The Company’s careful management of its property and investments continued into the nineteenth century and its growing prosperity was boosted considerably as property values and rents in London increased. The Company also benefited from the country’s general economic growth and the highly profitable sale of land to the Great Eastern Railway and other railway companies between 1830 and 1870.
By the 1870s, the Company’s increased wealth enabled it to redevelop its Hall site and become more involved in charitable and educational activities.
In 1886, the Company opened an evening institute on its Stratford estate, offering classes in carpentry, joinery, plumbing, geometry, mechanical drawing and cookery. By 1891, the institute had become a day school for boys until its closure in 1905 when the local council opened its own school.
The present-day Carpenters and Dockland Centre grew from the Carpenters’ Institute, originally set up as a social facility in the early twentieth century, and continues to receive considerable support from the Company.
Supporting Craft Training
The Company was a founder member of the City and Guilds of London Institute in 1880 along with a number of other City livery companies, reflecting the Company’s growing interest in technical education.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, technical examinations, lectures and exhibitions on woodworking and joinery were regularly held at Carpenters’ Hall. After the Second World War, interest in the technical examinations declined, and in 1955 the Company launched an annual Carpenters’ Craft Competition which still runs today.
In 1890, the Company helped create a body for woodwork instructors and other craftsmen, known today as the Institute of Carpenters. The Institute was founded by 11 craftsmen who had achieved high grades in the Company’s examinations. Its role was to oversee training for carpenters and joiners at a time when many feared traditional skills were being lost.
The Carpenters’ Company established its own Trades’ Training School in 1893, now the Building Crafts College, in the West End of London. It relocated to a purpose-built building in Stratford, East London, in 2001 and continues to represent the Company’s commitment to training in the woodworking crafts.
The 21st Century
In 2004 the Company drew up new Standing Orders, and as a result female members were able to become Livery members for the first time. The Company continues to develop its property interests in order to fund its charitable objectives, which include supporting the Charitable Trust and Building Crafts College.