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Craftsmen Skill Paraded Around World

Coventry craftsmen who produce the bodywork of famous cars such as  Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ford, and Mercedes have been honoured as Freemen of the City.

The accolade, dating back to the 14th century, is still bestowed in an official ceremony enacted by the Lord Mayor in full regalia and is the first rung of the nobility.

It goes to student engineers and skilled precision metalworkers to mark their successful completion of a five year apprenticeship in the city.

Historically the honour went to blacksmiths, arrow-smiths, those who fashioned suits of armour, or built horse-drawn coaches - forerunners of the automobile.

Today arduous standards are still set to keep technical and engineering skills high and keep Coventry famous as a brand name for motoring excellence.

Paul Sullivan, CEO of Premier Sheet Metal, a global supplier of prototype auto bodies and parts, pays around 30,000 per student in wages during training.

He usually has a team of ten apprentices in his employ, each learning their craft from "masters".

This is to meet the highest demands for precision demanded by Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ford, and Mercedes among the companies that source car parts and prototype bodies in Coventry.

Paul, whose company is based in Exhall said:

"We maintain the master and apprentice system because it gets results that achieve the high standards demanded.

"Apprentices are trained hour by hour, day by day, at the side of master craftsmen, who hand down the skills of generations."

He added:

"I suppose the owners of these cars, so popular around the world, might like to know the noble heritage that still surrounds them."

In typical ancient English law Freemen of the City have certain land rights, attend exclusive annual ceremonies, and gain pensions and care in their retirement years.

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CWN / Business / A-Z / Premier Sheet Metal / 15 Feb 01

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM