Homeowner Ernie Pilgrim from Trinity Place in Hazlemere, has had the honour of engineering and being a part of renowned projects that many of us admire today such as The Royal Albert Hall, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
Head Boy, House Captain and captain of the boxing team, from an early age he didn’t shy away from hard work and determination. Working only for two companies in his semi-centennial career, his loyalty, expertise and respect within the industry is truly evident.
Ernie says: “I remember my Headmaster Mr Philpin saying to me ‘If you were my son, I would be sending you off to get a job with Dorman Long’.
So , that’s what I did. Their prime project in those days was the design and construction of Sydney Bridge – what a company to work for! During my 12 years with them, I worked on major projects including Barking, Littlebrook and Bankside Power Stations, before moving to Hay Berry and Partners with whom I remained for most of my career, becoming an equity partner.”
Whilst at Hay Barry and Partners, Ernie worked on a varied portfolio of projects from the restoration of historic buildings to contemporary city-centre developments fit for the 21st century. He also travelled overseas, managing all the company’s projects in Nigeria and Ghana.
“For 25 years, we worked at the spectacular Royal Albert Hall helping the wider team of suppliers to prepare for concerts and events. We would be there at least once a month.
“But for me, my favourite project is undoubtedly the Worship Company of Plaisterers’ Great Livery Hall. We were appointed as the Constructional Engineers for the design and site supervision for the new Hall in 1965, which was set to the largest Livery Hall in the City. I had the privilege of leading the structural construction team for the next 5 years or so.”
Decorated in the neo classic style created by Robert Adam in the 18th Century, the Great Hall is crowned with the finest crystal chandeliers and floor length windows. Today, it hosts a wide range of events, including formal livery dinners, parties, weddings, conferences and product launches through to fashion shows and photoshoots.
Ernie adds: “To this day, it is still the most significant building.”
From Hay Barry and Partner’s appointment in the project, Ernie was later elected at Liveryman of the Company. In 1996, he became Renter Warden, 1998 Upper Warden and in 1999 the Master of Livery.
“It was during my time as Master of the Livery that they decided to redevelop the office blocks above the second floor of the Great Hall after 15 years of negotiations. It was somewhat perfectly times as I was able to keep a watching brief due to my extensive knowledge of the building.”
This was all in between juggling a calendar of over 250 social events and a busy family life with his late wife Pamela and sons Stephen and Christopher.
Now in his 80s, Ernie spent lockdown in his apartment at Trinity Place writing an engineering guidebook about the Livery projects. He has since sent a draft to the Clerk of Livery Company to see if they would be interested in publishing it and is readily awaiting a response.