About the year 1781, it was realised that social conditions had undergone a change and that the City was on the eve of still greater changes. A Century earlier, the City was giving us wholehearted support in an Act of Common Council dated 9th June 1658 whereby all persons carrying on the trade of a Blacksmith or Spurrier were compelled to be free of the Company. One final effort was made: legal opinion was sought from three learned Counsel who agreed in advising the Company that Parliament would entertain no proposals nor confirm any ancient statutes which in their application would force restrictions upon trade. Smiths from all parts of the country had settled within the liberties and refused to pay Quarterage or conform to the rules or by-laws of the Company. Consequently, it was decided that as the headquarters of the governing body of a trade, Blacksmiths’ Hall was of no further use and that the expenses of its upkeep for social and charitable purposes was no longer warranted. The lease with the City Corporation terminated at Michaelmas, 1785, and was not renewed. The plate was sold and the sum realised was invested for the institution of pensions.
Since that date the Wardens and Court of Assistants have existed as trustees to administer the funds of the Society. Ancient customs and traditions have always been respected and the honour and prestige won by past generations have always been maintained. In recent years a new movement has arisen – the Company’s activities have increased and are again being directed towards the advancement and improvement of the various branches of the trade which the Company represented in the past. We are not rich in material possessions, but the honour and esteem which belong to all ancient institutions that have weathered the storms of time and given their service to the general community are the most valuable heritage of the Blacksmiths’ Company.
Recent experience has shown that the prizes, medals and diplomas which we offer for workmanship of the very highest standard have been accorded a degree of esteem and appreciation which any modern institution might envy. It is felt that in the course of time, the Company may be enabled to resume some of its ancient activities, of necessity in an attenuated form, and adjusted to conform with modern conditions and its present resources.
High principles have always been the leading purpose of the City Livery Companies and education has been in the forefront of their activities. Recognition of the past is valuable in that it provides experience for the future and although this is a City Company, the encouragement of the craft in more remote places is the aim of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths.