As each generation moves on, it is all too easy to forget those who in the past have contributed so much to the Company of Cordwainers. With this in mind in 2004, the Court of Assistants ordered the preparation of a photographic and biographic record of Past Masters to be placed in the York City Archive as part of the record of the Company’s achievements.
Percy L. Nutt
In 1977 Percy Nutt, who had Cox’s leather shop in the Shambles, persuaded Canon Jack Armstrong to call a meeting of “men and women connected with the Boot & Shoe trade, Repairers and those in shoe shops” who were interested in re-forming the Company of Cordwainers. This was the start of the present Company. Before his death in 1988 he contributed greatly to the Company and is commemorated in a window in Bedern Hall.
Cyril C. Meadowcroft
Cyril Meadowcroft was one of the founding members of the Company. He had been active in the York shoe trade being Secretary and then President of the York Boot Trade Association. Sadly he was taken ill and died in office early in 1980 and Percy Nutt completed his term.
William R. Preece
Bill Preece, Managing Director of A. Watkinson in Goodramgate, was one of the founding members of the Company and became its first Clerk, generously supporting the Company during a difficult period. He initiated negotiations to secure the Bedern Hall for use by the Three Guilds. It was during his term of office that the 6th race at the York August meeting, a 2 ½ furlong race for 3-year-old colts and geldings, was entitled “The Cordwainers’ Stakes”. In 2004 Watkinson’s celebrated their centenary as a leading quality shoe shop in the City.
Peter Storey, Managing Director of Clarks of York, was one of the founding members of the Company. It was during his Mastership that the first Joint Guild Service took place. It seems likely that the custom of processing to the Annual Church Service started at this time, as did the first reports of invitations to events of other York Guilds.
John G. Bird
John Bird was an early member of the Company. His Mastership included the publication of the Cordwainers’ Records, a transcription of the ancient Company’s Ordinances, together with much of the fundraising to finance the Bedern Hall. He initiated links with the London Cordwainers’ College. In 1985, his bequest of the carved Cordwainers Coat of Arms, which hangs in the Bedern, was dedicated to his memory.
Dennis Bullock, with his wife, Audrey, continued his father’s shoe repair and leather goods business for over 35 years – established in 1930; it survives today. During his Mastership the Foundation Stone of Bedern Hall was laid in October 1983.
Bob Stabler, came from Hull where he was involved in shoe making and at one time produced clogs.
Kathleen Foster was the first lady to progress to Master in the re-founded Company, and possibly in the Guild movement as a whole. This was at a time when female officeholders in the Guild movement were a rarity. She very effectively paved the way for the many lady Masters who have followed her. She acted as producer for all the Guilds Wagon Plays in both 1998 and 2002.
T. Harry Atkinson
Harry Atkinson, was a highly skilled craftsman who could not only repair but could also make shoes. The leather covering of the Master’s Bench in Bedern Hall is an example of his work. He continued to serve the Company as not only Chamberlain but also Dinner Clerk, until 2001, when he was presented with a garden seat. Harry was still an active member when he died in 2003
Elizabeth M. Marshall
Elizabeth Marshall was a partner in the family shoe shop D. Webster & Son, in Goodramgate. As well as being Master in her own right, she represented her father who was one of the founding members of the Company. Her daughter Judith Williams, continues the family tradition as Master 2004 – 2005.
Noel Bakes, MBE
Noel Bakes continued to serve the Company as Beadle from 1989 until 2003, the longest-serving Beadle in the reformed Company’s history. Noel was awarded the MBE for services to the community in his home town of Hornsea in 2002. In 2005 he was awarded the French Legion of Honour for his war service. A long-standing thespian he took part in the Company play in the 2002 Mystery Plays.
Anthony J. Harris
Harold Woodworth was introduced into the shoe repair business at an early age in his father’s business in Salford. Later he joined W.H. & B. Shoe Repair Machinery Manufacturers in Manchester, where he rose to manage their Glasgow and Leeds Branches. He continues as an active member of the Company.
G. Raymond Burn
Raymond Burn served as Clerk to the Company from 1983 – 1993. He maintained a high profile role during a period critical in the formation of the Bedern Hall Company and the establishment of the Bedern Hall for the Three Guilds. He was succeeded in the office of Clerk by his son, S. Mark Burn, shortly before his death in July 1993. He is commemorated in a stained glass window in the Bedern Hall, a project on which he had worked so hard to bring to fruition.
Gerry R. Best
Gerry Best spent 39 years of his working life in the shoe industry finally retiring as Shoe Care Marketing Manager for Reckett & Colman. He was a Board Member of the Boot Trades Benevolent Society and originated the Marathon Walk which raised over £300,000 for shoe and leather charities.
Mona Pease was for a period Company Almoner and continues to serve on the Court of Assistants as an active Past Master.
David R. Sampson
David Sampson is a farmer from Skipsea, who in the past was active in cattle production. Despite ill health, he continues to serve the Company as an active Past Master on the Court of Assistants.
Brenda Milner, a former Lady Mayoress of the City, represented the Company at the Induction of the Archbishop of York. In 1997–98 she served again as Joint Master with Jane Hatcher, due to an unexpected gap in the succession. She continues to serve the Company as Almoner.
C. Jane Hatcher
Jane Hatcher renewed contact with the London Guilds and served again as Joint Master with Brenda Milner during 1997–98.
Brenda Milner & C. Jane Hatcher
Due to an unexpected gap in the succession, Miss Milner and Miss Hatcher shared the Mastership in 1997-1998.
Christopher J. E. Bird
Kit Bird was the second generation of his family to serve as Master. It was the first time this has occurred within the Company. He continued to serve the Company as Dinner Clerk until 2005. He took part in the 1998 Wagon Plays and is Treasurer of the Bedern Hall Company, through which the three Guilds administer the Bedern. The Company owes much to Kit’s enthusiasm and energy.
Canon Jack H. Armstrong MBE, OStJ
Canon Jack Armstrong and Percy Nutt were responsible for the re-founding of the Company in 1977. “Canon Jack” carried out significant research into the Company’s history and re-instituted many of its ancient traditions. He was Chaplain both to the Company and to all the York Guilds for many years.
Ruth Parker, Master in the Millennium year, continues to serve the Company as an active Past Master on the Court of Assistants.
Patricia J. Crossley
During Paddy Crossley’s Mastership, the Company initiated the Annual Apprentice Awards for Craftsmanship at York College. She is pictured here with her husband Laurie, who served as her consort.
Councillor Ann Reid
Ann Reid, a former Lord Mayor of the City, continues to serve the Company as an active Past Master on the Court of Assistants, seen here with her son, Matthew, the Company’s Beadle.
Timothy J. Healy
Tim Healy followed the tradition of membership of the Company started by his father, J. Healy, many years ago. The family has a number of shoe shops in Rotherham.
Judith Williams, followed in the footsteps of her mother Elizabeth Marshall, (Master 1987 -88) becoming the 2nd second-generation Master of the Company. During her term of office links with the London Livery Companies and the Glasgow Cordwainers were significantly strengthened.
Peter J. Stanhope
Peter Stanhope’s maternal family (the Thompsons) have been Freeman Cordwainers within the walled city of York since 1733.
Peter‘s father was also a Tanner and two of his Great Grandfather’s were boot and shoemakers in York.
Peter claimed his Freedom of the City of York in 1996 from his maternal grandfather, Thomas Thompson Jnr. and then became a Cordwainer by joining the Company in 1997 rising to be Master in 2005/2006.
Professor Peter G. H. Dale, FRIAS
Fellow of Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. 1999 Master Worshipful Company of Architects of London. Director of the Architects Benevolent Society from 2000. Master York Guild of Building 2002. Director of York Civic Trust 2005 -2008. He was instrumental in bringing about the written Constitution of the Company during his year of office, the document still used today by the Court for running the Company.
John T. Gears
John Gears has family connections to Cordwaining going back nearly two Centuries and he is proud to continue that tradition in the modern times by his membership of the York Company of Cordwainers. Having supported his favourite Charity, Guide Dogs for the Blind for over twenty years, he was very proud when early in 2013 he was awarded a Gold Statuette by the Guide Dog’s Association for his achievement of puppy walking 20 Guide Dog Puppies.
Mrs Angela McMullen pictured here with her husband Joe, who served as her consort.
James W. Webster
James (pictured with his consort Pam Morris.) was born in York and was educated at ‘the Walmgate Academy,’ i.e. St Georges School. He qualified as an electronics technician at Leeds University and started his working life as an electronics technician in their Medical School, before moving to York University, subsequently built the first electronic music studio in England. He was headhunted by Yorkshire Television to work in their sound department, James progressed through various departments and latterly became a Senior Editor for the company and the ITV network. He then retrained as a chiropodist and moved to Guernsey, where he established a Chiropody business on Guernsey and Sark. After five years, he moved back to York and opened a combined shoe shop and Chiropody clinic. He was invited to join the Cordwainers in 2002, joining the Court two years later. James was the Guild representative for the three Wagon Play cycles, including the design and build of their 2006 Wagon play known as the ‘Harrowing of Hell‘. He also filmed the plays in 2010 for the York Festival Trust which were sold and distributed globally. He became Master of the Company in 2009/2010 and Deputy Clerk for the Guild in 2015.
Jacqueline (Jackie) Talbot was born in Doncaster. She only moved out of the county while attending college in Lincoln where she trained as a Teacher. Whilst at college researching material for college projects Jackie decided that she would research her own family history. This has kept her busy for over forty years. Amongst her ancestors are many workers in leather, including Saddlers and Cordwainers as well as sellers of leather. The family shop in Newark, Nottinghamshire only closed at the end of the twentieth century.
It was thirty-five years ago when the Talbot‘s moved to York when Jackie’s husband moved to a new job there. Jackie was delighted when she was invited to join the Company of Cordwainers by the then Master. Her time with the company has been very happy.
During her Master’s year, Jackie was very ably supported by her husband Geoffrey.
Lt. Colonel John May OBE
John is the Grandson of a Shoemaker and the son of an ex-Sales Director of R E Tricker, Shoemakers, of Northampton and Jermyn Street, London. John and Jacky enjoyed the privilege of being the Master and Master’s Lady in the year of the London Olympics and The Diamond Jubilee of HM The Queen. It doesn’t get much better than that.
David J. Hobman
As Master, Dave instigated the St Peter’s School Prize for technology and design. Also Clerk of the Company since 2006. During this time Dave established links with Kirkcudbright, Irvine, Aberdeen and Dundee Trades Houses in Scotland and the Shoemakers of Basle in Switzerland
Matthew Reid was born in Derbyshire but has lived in York for over 30 years. He was educated at what is now York High School and York College. Matthew became a Cordwainer in 2002 and was elected as the Company’s Beadle in 2005. He is the youngest Master of the Company since it was reformed in 1974.
Sharon L. Hobman
Sharon has been involved in Guild life since 1995; is a Freeman of the City by birthright, and previously served as Treasurer, Master and Clerk of one of the other York Guilds; latterly serving as Clerk for Dave Hobman when he was the Master of the Cordwainers Company in 2013-14. Sharon was responsible for the ideation and introduction of the medal, which she designed, and is awarded annually to a first-year BA student studying fashion at York College
Pamela Morris Webster
Pamela was born in Brighton and educated at Varndean All Girls Grammar School. She married her first husband in 1956 and had three children. She has a background in tailoring and dressmaking and a keen interest in fashion. She moved to York with her family in 1972 and worked at Rowntree’s Chocolate Factory in quality control. She then decided to study Alternative Medicine and qualified various therapies including Homeopathy Aromatherapy and was the first practitioner in the UK of the Australian “Bowen Technique”. She’s now a member of several committees and was elected president of the York Racecourse Ladies Lunch Club in 2019. Pamela became a member of the Company of Cordwainers in 2002 and joined the Court 2010. She became Master of the Company in 2017/2018 and is now the Archivist for the Company. Her hobbies include 20+ years of competitive Ballroom and Latin American dance, medieval history and literature, reading and holidays.
John has been in the industry of woodwork since the age of 15. He is a fourth-generation woodworker and has established his own businesses during that time after an apprenticeship at Robert Thompson’s Craftsmen, Kilburn, North Yorkshire. Robert Thompson is known worldwide as ‘Mousey Thompson’, identified by a mouse on every piece made, even to this day. In addition, John has had a successful career in teaching at York College and still teaches at his established classroom and workshops today.
His association with leather comes from working with leather seat coverings both as an apprentice and in client commissions. John continues as a Past Master and a Court member to support the Cordwainers. He’s also an active member of the Institute of Carpenters and currently holds the position of Vice-Chair for the North East of England, a role that takes him away from the working environment to discuss, debate and support by mentoring young people in the industry helping to promote craftsmanship.
Ann Reid MBE
Ann was born in London and raised in Essex and was educated at Stansted County Secondary School and Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology.
She worked for the City of London Lending Libraries and at a local hospital in Hertfordshire, then in 1976 she and her husband moved to Matlock Bath in Derbyshire. All her three children were born in Derbyshire and in 1985 the family moved to York.
Ann was elected to York City Council in September 1986 representing the areas of Foxwood, Woodthorpe and then Dringhouses. She served continuously until May 2019 when she stood down. During her 32 years as a Councillor, Ann served on numerous committees and was an Executive Member for, variously, Planning and Transport, Environment and Leisure. For the last four years, she was Chair of the Planning Committee. Ann was honoured to serve as the City’s Lord Mayor in 1993- 1994.
She was made an Honorary Alderman in July following her 32 years’ service to the Council.
Ann has also been a School Governor serving Woodthorpe Primary School for almost 20 years and was Chair for ten years.
She was awarded an MBE for services to Local Government in 2018.
Ann joined the Company of Cordwainers in 1995 and was Master in 2002-2003. She had the great pleasure of swearing in her son as a Member. He is now the Company Beadle and has also previously served as Master.
Ann has been married to Peter since 1973; they have three children and two grandchildren.
In her spare time, she loves reading, cake making and trips out in Peter’s TVR Tuscan.
Ann is York born and bred with a lifelong passion for the history of the city. At the end of her education, she worked in retail travel with the opportunity to visit many different countries, but always happy to return to her beloved city.
In 1970 she was delighted to be offered a post in the newly formed Department of Tourism. This was an exciting four years of non-stop significant events, including the 1900th Anniversary of the founding of the city by the Roman army in AD71 and then the 500th Anniversary of the consecration of the Minster in 1972.
In 1970 Ann became a member of the Association of Voluntary Guides to the City of York and very much enjoyed over 50 years guiding visitors on walking tours of the city. She served continuously on the Committee from 1976 until retiring in March 2023, when she was made an Honorary Member.
Ann and her husband Alan had the greatest honour of serving as Sheriff and Sheriff’s Lady from 2011-2012, with many wonderful and memorable occasions, including meeting the late Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.
In 2018, Ann was surprised and honoured to be presented with the Visit York Tourism Champion Award for her years of service to the city.
She is a member of York Archaeological Trust, currently serving on the Membership Committee.