Thursday, 19th December 2013

Merry Christmas from all at Walter Lilly

Walter Lilly would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our Clients, Consultants, Supply Chain and their families a very Merry Christmas.

We thank you all for your support, opportunities and project successes during 2013 and look forward to another excellent year in 2014 – the year in which we celebrate our 90th year of trading.

The Walter Lilly head office will be closed between 1pm on Tuesday, 24th December 2013 and re-opens on Thursday, 2nd January 2014 at 9am.

Monday, 2nd December 2013

Topping Out in Knightsbridge

It’s always a treat when everything good comes together in one moment. That’s how starting my first week at Walter Lilly felt like last week. The friendliness is the most immediately striking thing. Once the pleasantries are done then it’s down to work and that’s where Walter Lilly really comes into its own. The knowledge, the skill, the passion and the desire to do outstanding work for the client make for a dedicated working atmosphere totally focussed on getting the job done to stellar standards.

The highlight of last week was attending a topping out ceremony in Knightsbridge. This was another example of good things coming together. To mark the occasion of the building project reaching the top of the building the client’s family were invited to lay an inscribed stone on the roof of the building in the presence of Tim Flynn Architects and the Walter Lilly site and head office teams. The mortar was expertly spread by the client’s young children and the stone laid by the husband and wife – before Andrew Crispin presented them with a silver engraved trowel.

Presentation of Silver Trowel

Andrew went on to say some compelling words on Topping Out which summed up the occasion eloquently and succinctly:

Topping Out

The familiar ceremony of ‘topping out’ is a modernised version of a very ancient pagan rite.  Although its origin is shrouded in the mists of antiquity, topping out was practiced by Asian civilisations of 7,000 years ago and possibly even earlier still.

In ancient times, the occasion of ‘topping out’ marked the moment when a new building was ready to furnish or occupy.  In its transfer to Britain, ‘topping out’ has more traditionally become a ceremony to mark the moment when a building is roofed-in; when the masons and carpenters have finished their works and the joiners, plasterers and painters take over.

Historically, the ceremony involved the fixing or planting of a tree to the highest part of the building. This was followed by the sprinkling of elements – wine for fertility and wisdom; oil for liberty and prosperity; corn to cause prosperity to ripen into abundance and salt to preserve purity and hospitality.  Finally, a sacrifice would be made to the gods, to encourage them to dwell in the house and bring it to life.

Thankfully, the modern British version of the custom no longer requires a sacrifice.  The tree is replaced by a Union Jack flag and a barrel of beer has been substituted for the sacrifice and the elements.

The principal guest will traditionally be invited to perform the ceremony of ‘topping out’, symbolised by some final part of the structure, or a commemorative plaque or stone, being placed in position supervised by the project’s general foreman.  The general foreman will then present members of the project team and senior workmen to the principal guest and the proceedings are concluded with refreshments.

This is an ancient tradition which we at Walter Lilly are always keen to preserve as for us, more than anything else, it announces the fact that someone’s vision has become reality and that a worthwhile job has been well done.”


Having visited more Walter Lilly sites in central London and Wentworth more recently I am very happy to report there will be plenty more good things to share with you on this newsfeed over the coming years – and thank you for my warm welcome to Walter Lilly!

Rupert Kenyon, Head of Marketing

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