The Stationers' Company is the City of London Livery Company for the Communications and Content industries.
The Company’s mission is to be recognised as the most effective independent forum in the UK Communications and Content industries, actively contributing to the strategic development, success and education of these industries. You can learn how we do this by clicking here. The majority of our members work in or supply the paper, print, publishing, packaging, office products, newspaper, broadcasting and online media industries.
What a Livery Company is
Livery Companies were first created by groups of medieval tradesmen who joined together to promote, protect and regulate their trades. Within the City of London they played an important role in the development of the governance of the City and they retain strong links with the City of London Corporation, which is the local government for the City. Charitable giving is a very strong element of the work of all livery companies.
There are 108 livery companies in London, each representing a discrete profession or trade. Some companies, whose trades are now largely defunct, draw their members more widely and devote their resources largely to charitable activities. Others that have been formed more recently are entirely focused on their trades. The Stationers’ Company is almost unique for a 600-year-old company in that over 90% of our members are actively involved in the Communications and Content industries and our charitable activities are directed towards education for young people coming into these industries and the welfare of families connected with them.
600 years ago most craftsmen in London were itinerant. However the manuscript writers and illuminators decided to concentrate their efforts and set up stalls or ‘stations’ around St Paul’s Cathedral. Because of this they were given the nickname ‘Stationers’ and this was the obvious choice of name for the guild they established in 1403 and for its home, Stationers’ Hall, which remains within a stone’s throw of the Cathedral in Ave Maria Lane.
When printing came to England in the late 15th century, the Stationers had the good sense to embrace it and we have continued to adapt to the many changes in the Communications and Content industries ever since. The technology may have changed from pen and inks to print and on-line links but the name has always remained the same.
Today the Company has over 800 members, the vast majority of whom are senior executives in the complete range of trades within the Communications and Content industries, from paper, print, publishing, packaging, office products, newspapers, broadcasting and online media. Membership is drawn from across the UK and increasingly throughout the world and now includes major companies as well as individual members.
The Company uses Stationers’ Hall for the purpose for which it was built all those years ago: to bring together the major players in our industries so that they can enjoy each other’s company, learn from one another, swap ideas and together develop strategies for the future of industries that are vital to global economic growth. Activities range from formal dinners, informal lunches, lectures, seminars and intimate round-table sessions to online reports and discussion fora.
Peter Day, a BBC global business correspondent, encapsulated this in a recent speech at Stationers’ Hall: “The Stationers’ Company is more relevant today than it was at the time of Caxton”. It is because of, and not despite, its 600-year history that the Company remains determined to continue to adapt to the ever-increasing pace of change in the media industry.