Express & Star

Bridgnorth businessman joins in ancient London ritual

A Bridgnorth businessman represented the town in London's annual sheep drive over London Bridge.

Stephen Robinson in London

Stephen Robbins, who is chairman of Bridgnorth Chamber of Trade, became a liveryman after joining the Worshipful company of Joiners and Ceilers a few years ago.

He joined hundreds of fellow liverymen in raising thousands of pounds for charity. They included television presenter Kate Humble and the Lord Mayor of the City of London Vincent Keaveny who led the sheep drive.

Mr Robins will be back in the capital on Thursday to attend the election of the 694th new Lord Mayor at the Guildhall.

The sheep drive is held because the City of London was built from the proceeds of the wool trade many years ago when it was one of the most sustainable and versatile fibres in the world. In the modern age it is said to represent the enduring link and dependency between city and nature.

In medieval times, sheep farmers drove their sheep across London Bridge into the City of London to sell them at market. Freemen of the City were excused the bridge toll that had to be paid by other people crossing the bridge, in recognition of their status as local traders.

The Worshipful Company of Woolmen arranged the first modern sheep drive in 2013.

Mr Robins, who runs a home improvement company in Bridgnorth is a joiner and woodworker by trade and was asked to join the Joiners and Ceiler company after visiting London for a number of jobs fairs. He is keen to encourage youngsters into trades and has worked with students at Oldbury Wells School in the past.

He said: "I was honoured to be invited to join the company a few years ago, due to my long involvement in the industry.

"The ancient livery companies in London are committed to keeping their crafts going in the modern age and encouraging young people to pursue a career in them.

"The methods of working may have changed dramatically but they keep going and I have always encouraged youngsters to get involved in a trade they are keen on or good at and turn it into a profession.

"The sheep drive raises thousands of pounds for the designated charity as well as being a good social occasion.

"There are all sorts of stories about liverymen and how they were permitted to drive their sheep across London Bridge free of charge - it is now a celebration of that and a chance to raise awareness of the work of the livery companies."