Leather Currying Today
The historic trade of the Curriers’ Company, that of preparing and dressing of leather by cleaning, scraping, stretching and finishing by oiling, waxing or colouring, hides to the desired surface finish after the tanning process, declined rapidly in the UK during the early part of the 20th Century. Currying activity is now restricted mainly to the dressing of leather for a few specialist high end products.
Much of the leather still produced in the UK is now worked almost entirely by machine. However, there are exceptions, an example being the one remaining firm of curriers still working in Walsall, one of the great centres of the English leather trade in the 19th and 20th Centuries; J&E Sedgwick & Co produces hand-finished leather predominately for the equestrian market.
Current Membership and Aims
With the decline of the trade of currying in the UK, the Worshipful Company of Curriers’ Livery has developed into a modern fellowship with around 100 professional men and women, many of them working in or close to the City of London, with backgrounds in law, insurance, financial services, accountancy, brokerage, academia, public relations and industry.
The Livery exists to act as a fellowship who:
- support the leather trade by any practical means
- make charitable donations and give grant support for the relief of poverty and hardship within London
- fulfil their obligated civic role in support of the City of London, its Mayoralty and its corporate governance
- give general support for art and education within the City, and
- demonstrate solidarity with the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom.
Support of Leathercraft
To maintain meaningful links with the leather trade, the Curriers’ Company supports numerous centres of excellence such as: the London College of Fashion, which runs diploma and degree courses in Leathercraft, Design and Technology; the Leather Conservation Centre in Northampton, which conserves and restores all forms of historic leather objects and materials; Capel Manor College, Enfield, which runs courses in saddlery and bridlery; and the Institute for Create Leather Technologies at Northampton University.
General Charitable Giving
In addition, the Company acts as a relevant force for good with an annual programme of donations to selected educational establishments and charities within London.
Curriers’ Millennium Healthcare Bursary
As one means of marking the beginning of the new Millennium, the Curriers’ Company endowed an annual Primary Healthcare Bursary, to support research or personal study to improve the lot of under- privileged sectors of the population in London. Click on the link to learn more about the Curriers’ Millennium Bursary.
Affiliations with Military Units
There is a long tradition of links between City of London Livery Companies and units of the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces. The Curriers’ Company is no exception, despite the fact that there is little historical synchrony between the Curriers of old and the military, although it is true that the soldiers’ equipment for centuries has made extensive use of leather. Today, the Curriers have affiliations with:
- 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment (EOD)(V)
- No 7 Squadron, RAF Odiham
- The Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing (JSFAW)
- The University Royal Navy Unit (URNU) Cambridge University and HMS TRUMPETER