Worshipful Company of Cordwainers

Master’s Blog

Posted by: JHM Date: 21 Sep 2020

The first blog from Peter Lamble, the Cordwainers’ first footwear trade Master since John Barrett in 2003-2004.

I have spent the majority of my working life working for and running Start-Rite Shoes in Norwich, and am still Chairman of the company. If you’ve ever seen me actually try to make shoes, though, I am sure you would agree that I am truly a cobbler rather than a cordwainer.

The current health crisis affects all areas of Cordwainer life. It is making a mess of our social calendar and it is also affecting our financial affairs. Despite these difficulties, the spirit of the Company remains as strong as ever and we have an exciting if somewhat strange year ahead.

Politicians have described tackling the virus as like fighting an invisible enemy. The implication is that not being able to see is one of the biggest challenges that people can face. Imagine then, if this was the task facing you every day in every situation.

The Cordwainers’ Charity of the Year for this year is the Royal Society for Blind Children, who help young people in exactly this position. If Covid restrictions have caused mental health problems amongst the population in general, how much more so for those who cannot see the changes around them?

The Cordwainers have already launched themselves enthusiastically into fundraising for this great cause, proving yet again that not being able to get together is no barrier to members’ generosity and ingenuity. Past Master Jeremy Blanford’s 100 mile cycle ride, our virtual quiz and the brisk sale of Cordwainer facemasks shows this ingenuity living on.

Many activities are online currently, and I was recently honoured to attend a virtual Open Day for the Middlesex and North West London Army Cadet Force, which like its sister London branches is supported by our affiliated charity the Harben Armoury Trust. I was in complete awe, though, of the arrangements the sector had made for a virtual summer camp for 584 cadets, with a whole week’s worth of active tasks for them to complete and send in.

Necessity, invention, and a lesson for us all.


The Mistress Cordwainer, Angelique Lamble, is a talented seamstress. She has produced more than 60 bespoke Cordwainer facemasks, with proceeds from the sales going to the RSBC.