The Worshipful Company of Carpenters

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.

New Developments

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.

Michael Morrison


Michael Morrison was appointed chair of the Governors in 2021. He is a retired architect having previously been managing partner and chair of the conservation architects ‘Purcell’. He has been a member of the National Trust’s Architectural Panel; a member of Heritage Lottery Fund’s Expert Advisory Panel; A Trustee of the Greenwich Foundation; a Commissioner for Historic England, and a member of the Wood Awards judging panel.

Dr Allen Zimbler

Dr Allen Zimbler (BA Hons, MBA, PhD (Witwatersrand)) started his career lecturing for 15 years at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where he became a Full Professor. He has served on the Boards of public companies and charities, retired as an Executive Director of Investec Bank Plc, and is currently Head of Governors of Morpeth School in Tower Hamlets.

Alistair Gregory-Smith

A Governor of the Building Crafts College responsible for overseeing the finances of the College since 2017. Alistair has previously spent 40 years giving financial advice to companies and individuals, as well as holding a number of senior executive roles in the financial services industry.

Nick Gutfreund

Having worked in advertising and marketing for over 18 years I decided it was time to do something that allowed me to be really creative! My journey through the world of furniture design and making started when I was accepted onto the Fine Woodworking Diploma course at the Building Crafts College 20 years ago, and since then I’ve never looked back. I’ve been lucky enough to win several awards, become a liveryman of the Carpenters’ Company, establish my own bespoke furniture design and making company, and be commissioned to make some very special pieces, by corporate and private clients, including the Livery Companies, the Royal Navy, and the Royal Family. Being asked to be a Governor of the college has brought me full circle and allows me to help those, just starting their journey into the amazing world of wood, to realise that anything is possible.

Rachel Bower

Rachel Bower, now retired, had forty years’ experience in the historic building industry working with architects, surveyors and engineers. She was the Education Officer of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings running the travelling Scholarships for building professionals and the William Morris Craft Fellowships for building craftsmen. She has been on the BCC Board of Governors for 11 years and was its previous Chairman. She attended evening classes at the College as a letter-cutting student in 2008-9. Rachel was a co-opted member of the City of London’s Education Board and its City Careers Festival sub-group 2019-22. She is a Trustee of the BCC Charity, the BCC Trading Co Ltd and of the Carpenters’ Company Charitable Trust.

Brigadier John Meardon

I have been involved with the College for over 20 years, first as a customer sending stone mason apprentices from Canterbury Cathedral and more recently as a governor through my appointments as a Liveryman, Warden and Master of the Carpenters Company. My background is military (Royal Marines ) followed by 18 years at Canterbury, where I became immersed in the cultural and practical aspects of maintaining historic buildings and the craft skills needed to sustain them.

John Barradell

I have been newly appointed as a Governor of the College. Previously the Chief Executive of both the City of London Corporation and Brighton & Hove City Council, I have been involved in the oversight of educational leadership from both a local authority and academy sponsor’s standpoint, at both primary and secondary levels. I have chaired a number of charities and am currently the Chair of the National Emergencies Trust – a charity focused on the support for those affected by national events – for example COVID, where the charity raised some £100m for distribution throughout the four nations.

Bruce Hodgson

Bruce Hodgson attended Sedbergh School in Yorkshire where he spent many happy hours in the Design and Technology Centre. After leaving school in 1985, he attended Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was commissioned into The Light Infantry from 1986 to 1991. After five years he left the forces to get married and to pursue a career in furniture making. He trained as a Cabinet Maker part time at the London College of Furniture, whilst working as a general manager to a London joinery firm.
In 1993 he moved his family to Bristol to start his furniture making business. Thirty years on the business is thriving in Cheddar, it is called Artichoke and employs over fifty staff. The business provides interior architectural design, interior design, and joinery and furniture design, as well as making, project managing and installing bespoke residential interiors around the world. Bruce’s day job is as the Creative Director at Artichoke.

John Michael Burton MBE

John Burton is an architect and partner of a worldwide architectural practice which specialises in the repair and conservation of historic buildings. He was awarded an MBE for services to the Conservation of Historic Architecture. He has cared for nationally important buildings, including Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, which had their own works departments employing craftspeople. John has a broad knowledge of all building matters and is very familiar with the qualifications and skills that the students at the BCC must obtain. He has encouraged, individually and in groups, many craftspeople to expand their knowledge and experience.
John served as a Governor of Kent Institute of Art and Design and the Burdett Coutts and Townsend Foundation Primary School in Westminster. He remains a member of various national and diocesan committees involved in the Ecclesiastical planning law, so has a broad experience of Governance. John is a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Masons.

Paul Wilkinson

Paul Wilkinson is the City Surveyor and Executive Director of Property and heads the City Surveyors Department. The Department is responsible for the management of the Corporation’s property investment portfolio, corporate real estate, property/construction projects and the operational management of both portfolios.
Through the Investment Property Group, the department has a considerable impact on the central London property market. With ownership in the Square Mile covering about 25% of the area, with other investment ownerships extending to Westminster, Camden, Southwark and beyond, and with operational ownership covering inner and Outer London Boroughs, the work of the Department has significance probably unequalled in the public sector.

Aiden Mortimer

FRSA FCIOB FRICS MSc in Historic Conservation​

I have worked in the construction industry for over 40 years in various craft and management roles, including 25 years as Chief Executive of a regional building company. I am currently Chairman of the, London based, Knowles Construction Group and a non-executive director of Nicholsons, a sustainable landscaping and forestry business in Oxfordshire. For the last 12 years I have sat on the judging panel of the Prince’s Foundation Building Craft Programme. I previously served as a governor at Ackworth School in Yorkshire for 12 years.