Our History & Heritage
The craft of the tin plate worker is an ancient one and there are well documented accounts of tinned copper and bronze articles dating from pre-Roman times. Tinned iron sheets, the earliest tinplates, were produced in Bavaria in the fourteenth century and imported into England from at least 1483 for use in domestic articles. There was limited production in Britain from about 1670, but the industry did not become established until around 1730.
The early tinplate was used for drinking vessels and for numerous household articles such as plates, bowls and lanterns. In the mid-seventeenth century, the trade of tinplate working flourished in London, in the vicinity of London Bridge, with the craftsmen belonging to various metal working guilds, principally the Ironmongers’ Company which was founded in 1463.
Wireworking as a craft was in existence in the reign of Henry VI, when the craftsmen in London were members of the Girdlers Company. Early wire objects in general use would have included needles, fish hooks, cages, chains and traps.
The two groups of craftsmen decided to amalgamate together to form a trade guild for the management and regulation of their trades, and in due time the company was granted a Royal Charter on 29th December 1670 in the reign of Charles II under the title of:
“The Trade Arte and Mistery of Tynne Plate Workers als Wyer Workers of the City of London”
Our first Master, was Thomas Aris (or Ayres), who was also Master of the Ironmongers’ Company in 1680 and a Tin Plate Worker by trade. The By-laws were approved by the courts of the Chancery and King’s Bench in 1678 and the Company received its Livery in 1766.
The Company’s Armorial Bearings have been used since 1670, but without legal authority until the Grant of Arms in 1957. They appear in stained glass windows in Guildhall Crypt, Guildford Cathedral, Ironmongers’ Hall, Tallow Chandlers’ Hall and St. Margaret, Lothbury, the Company’s Church.
In the present day, about 90% of tinplate consumed is used for can-making and packaging, with the balance utilised for light engineering applications. Steel wire is used in many forms, ranging from pins and needles, to engineering and automotive components such as springs, bars and rods, whilst copper based wire is the mainstay of the electrical and electronic industries. However, the production and use of both products are no longer the province of craftsmen, but are highly automated, high technology industries.
In order of precedence of livery companies within the City of London, the Company ranks sixty-seventh. It plays an active part in the activities of the City and enjoys good relationships with other livery companies, especially those with close trade associations such as the Ironmongers, Pewterers, Horners, Tallow Chandlers and others.