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Master Certificate Awards Ceremony 15 January 2016

At the Awards Ceremony held at Fishmongers’ Hall Master Certificates were awarded to Mike Rowland and Nick Gill by the Lord Mayor of London. They were awarded in recognition of the excellence that they have brought to the wheelwrights’ craft for over 40 years. During their long careers both have been granted the Royal Warrant, Nick Gill as part of the team at Croford Coachbuilders and Mike Rowland having been given this in his own right. They are pictured below receiving their awards from the Lord Mayor.

Nick Gill on the left and Mike Rowlands on the right.


At the same ceremony David Mortlock, Chairman of the Craft Committee, was awarded an Honorary Masters Certificate in recognition of his contribution to the preparation and operation of the Livery Companies Apprenticeship Scheme. His work having enabled the Company to place apprentices with Master Wheelwrights. He is pictured below receiving his award from the Lord Mayor and with the Master, David Viner and the two other award recipients Mike Rowland and Nick Gill.


The careers of Mike Roland and Nick Gill are as summarised below.

Mike Rowland

In 1953 Mike began a 5 year apprenticeship to become a wheelwright with Hansfords of Honiton. He started his own business in 1963 with a large scale timber yard and wheelwright’s shop in Colyton Devon. Since then he has trained 4 people to become wheelwrights, including his son Greg. In 2005 Mike became a Royal Warrant Grantee as a Wheelwright and Coachbuilder to HM Queen and he is passionate about the trade as well as the maintenance of quality within it. He still works full time in the family business, regularly producing new vehicles, along with repairing and making all types of wooden wheels. His vast knowledge and experience makes him an invaluable member of the business and key to helping develop the Company’s apprentice Wheelwright.

Nick Gill

Nick started his career as a Wheelwright in 1975 at Croford Coachbuilders in Ashford, Kent where he served a 5 year apprenticeship covering woodwork, metalwork and welding. Since then he has worked on virtually every type of wooden wheel, including ‘tightening’ two wheels on the Lord Mayor of London’s State Coach in the 1990s, and fitting rubber tyres to the Queen’s Gold State Coach. Nick’s passion is the repair of veteran car wheels and a recent project has involved restoring the wheels from a 1910 Clement Bayard. He regularly repairs wheels of carriages from the Royal Mews.

Andrew De Lisle
Andrew served a six year full time apprenticeship and has been working a total of ten years in the wheelwrights shop in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia USA.

Andrew is currently working on two pairs of hand cart wheels and recently completed a pair of reproduction French artillery wheels. In 2016 he will be building a plough and working with the other wheelwrights in the shop to build another ox cart.

Paul Zelesnikar
Paul served a six year full-time apprenticeship in pre-industrial Anglo-American Wheelwrighting to include research, technique and use of technology in a production/educational environment. He has been at Colonial Williamsburg since 2002

The regular workload of Paul and Andrew consists of the construction and maintenance of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s sizeable carriage fleet including freight vehicles such as carts and wagons as well as implements such as wheelbarrows.

They are regularly tasked to build wheels and vehicles of various descriptions for other museums. Generally, the work is restricted to designs originating in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and is carried out in a shop open to visitors to the museum.

Martin Sullivan
Martin attended Rural Development Commission Wheelwrights Apprentice Scheme with “Tutor” being Liveryman Robert Hurford. Then worked for over 10 years at his own “shop”.

Now lives most of the year in Millicent, South Australia in semi retirement but since 2006 actively helping in the Millicent National Trust Museum, South Australia. Built in 1873 as a Primary School but became the Museum in 1960. Now houses 25 full restored buggies, carriages and wagons. Until 2006 the carriages were “in moth balls” in Port Adelaide.

Douglas Andrews
On leaving school at 16 in 1989 Douglas went to work as an apprentice wheelwright with Liveryman David Bysouth at Three Cups, Heathfield, East Sussex. He completed a 4 Year apprenticeship through the Rural Development Commission based at Salisbury and attained a City and Guilds in Wheelwrighting. On David’s retirement in 1997 he became self employed and took over the business, renting the workshop and yard from him. At the same time took on Daniel Lambert-Gorwyn as full time employee and who had served his wheelwright apprenticeship with Douglas.

In 2007 David wished to sell the property but beyond the means of Douglas so he bought derelict farm buildings, on the proviso that he would pay the appropriate price when he obtained change of use planning permission. Achieved 2 years later and now his base of operations.

On the 10th February 2014 Douglas was sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Wheelwrights to be a “Master Wheelwright” under a Scheme promoted by the City and Guilds and Livery Companies Skills Council.

Having worked full time for Douglas for 17 years Daniel has now moved on and is self employed and works on projects intermittently on a piece work basis with Douglas.

Douglas is looking to take on an apprentice. If interested please contact him – details below under Yeomen.

Tim Brisley
At the Summer Court and Livery lunch on 11th July 2013, held on board HQS Wellington, the Master was very pleased to announce the appointment of Tim Brisley as a Yeoman of the Company. Tim is pictured below (second from right), along with (from left to right), David Viner (Craft Committee Chairman), Edward Crouch (the owner of Croford Coachbuilders), The Master (Stephen Kirk) and Tim’s wife Lesley.

Tim Brisley

Tim Brisley was apprenticed as a wheelwright coachbuilder in 1974 to Croford Coachbuilders of Ashford in Kent and completed his apprenticeship in 1978. After 39 years he is still with the Company and is currently involved with a wide range of restoration and repair work of horse drawn vehicles, covering most aspects of construction and some conservation work. He and his colleagues at Croford Coachbuilders are responsible for maintaining the wheels of the Lord Mayor of London’s coach.


At our invitation Mike Rowland and Phillip Gregson were admitted to be Yeomen to the Company at the Easter Court held at Saddlers’ Hall. They and their immediate family joined us for Dinner afterwards. They are pictured together below left (Phillip on the left and Mike on the right) and below right with their ladies, the Master, The Craft Chairman and Secretary.

Mike Rowland
Mike Rowland was apprenticed and established his own Wheelwrighting business in 1964. He and his son Greg (a Liveryman) run their family business together from their workshop in Colyton, Devon. The family has a long history as wheelwrights - records show that Mike’s ancestors were also making wheels in the village back in 1340.

They were awarded the Royal Warrant of Appointment in January 2005 by Queen Elizabeth II as her wheelwrights and coachbuilders. One of their claims to fame is that they made replica cannon wheels used at the siege of Londonderry in the 17th Century. The originals are believed to have been made by Thomas Bateman, the father of the founder of our Worshipful Company. Also in the ‘How Britain Worked’ television series last year they made a wooden wheeled velocipede with Guy Martin.

Mike and Greg have hosted two weekends for Liverymen and their spouses to roll up their sleeves and get hands on experience making a wheel. The first was held in March 2012 and due to its success a similar weekend was held in 2013.

Phillip Gregson
Phillip Gregson has run his own wheelwright’s business for the last 10 years from his workshop in Southport. The craft runs in the family and he is a fourth generation working wheelwright. As part of his training Phillip attended Hereford College, where Liveryman Robert Hurford was his course tutor.

Besides building and repairing a whole variety of wheels he is very keen on demonstrating his craft and has done this at public events and shows all over the UK. Phillip has a strong interest in Heritage crafts and helping ensure that they continue to survive. He spoke on the subject of wheelwrighting at the Heritage Craft Association Spring conference that was held in March 2013 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.


Master Certificate Awards Ceremony – 10th February 2014

At a ceremony held at Carpenters’ Hall on 10 th February 2014 the Master was pleased to award Master Certificates to Douglas Andrews, Timothy Brisley, Phillip Gregson, Robert Hurford, Greg Rowland and John Wright. The Certificates, presented by the Lord Mayor of London, Fiona Woolf were given in recognition of the contribution that these wheelwrights had made in maintaining the excellence of the Wheelwright’s Craft over many years. It also recognised their commitment to continue to support, in the capacity of mentor, those pursuing a career in wheelwrighting.

In celebration of their success a lunch was held after the Award Ceremony at Drapers’ Hall. The Award winners and their guests are pictured below along with The Master. The lunch was also attended by the Wardens, Past Master Richard Sermon, the Clerk, as well as the Chairman and Secretary of the Craft Committee.

Last year the rules governing the Company were amended to allow the number of Yeomen to be increased to 10. Part of the criteria for a Yeomen reads as follows:

“Must have been practising as a Wheelwright for at least 10 years and must be still in the Craft and wholly or partly earning a living from it and been practising as a Wheelwright for at least ten years and must show the quality of their work is acceptable”

Wheelwright on BBC Countryfile

Yeoman, and recently created Master Wheelwright, Phillip Gregson has been restoring a traditional shrimping cart at the Atkinson Museum, Southport.
Matt Baker of Countryfile was filmed in the final parts of making the two wheels, attaching the wheels to the cart and then going on to Southport beach to demonstrate how the shrimping cart works. This item should be shown on BBC Countryfile on Sunday 13th April 2014.

Winston Churchill Travelling Scholarship

Yeoman Phillip Gregson has been awarded a Scholarship to take a six weeks tour to USA and to visit various wheelwrights.
He proposes to “study the different ways Wheelwrights had adapted their work to deal with different materials and environments in the changing world. Traditional timbers - elm (used for the hub), oak (used for spokes) and ash (used for felloes) are all under threat in UK and combined with a possibly more extreme climate will challenge the methodology of making a traditional English wooden wheel.

The Company is delighted to have been able to make a grant to support Phillip on this project.


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