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Memorial Service for Past Master John Brewster OBE

Published on: 15 November 2019

John Brewster
Past Master, John Brewster, who died on 30th September.

It seemed fitting that the Memorial Service for Past Master John Brewster OBE, held at the Priory Church of St Bartholomew The Great on 13th November, should culminate with refreshments and reminiscences at Butchers’ Hall.

Family, friends and Liverymen gathered to pay tribute to John with Eulogies from his two sons, Liverymen Edward and James Brewster, and from Greg Lawrence of Smithfield Market testifying to his energy, drive and determination for reform where appropriate.

John, Master in 1983 and father of the Court, served the Worshipful Company of Butchers actively in many capacities with his foresight and energy breaking down many seemingly insurmountable barriers. 

John brought his considerable experience to bear as an active member of the Development Committee in this latest refurbishment of Butchers’ Hall.

John's life was featured in the Saturday 16th November edition of The Times and you can read the piece here.

A full obituary by Past Master Graham Jackman appears in the current Autumn edition of the WCB Newsletter, which has been reproduced below:

Past Master William John Brewster OBE

Father of the WCB Court

17th April 1930 – 30th September 2019

John was born in Paris in 1930 to a family involved in the meat industry based at Smithfield Market. His father, Past Master Frederick W Brewster was Master in 1977, and his uncle, James A Brewster, Master in 1961.

With the oncoming of the Nazi regime he, and his family, were evacuated to England in 1937 and again evacuated to Argentina at the age of nine to live with a relative in Buenos Aires where he attended St George’s College, a school for English patriots. He had learnt to speak French fluently during his short time in Paris and now he quickly learnt to speak Spanish.

Astonishingly enough he witnessed the sinking of the Admiral Graf Spee in the mouth of the River Plate.

At the age of 19 he returned to England and did his National Service in the Royal Tank Regiment rising to the rank of Major.

When he completed his National Service he joined his family company at Smithfield Market where with the knowledge he had obtained from his family in Argentina he became an expert on beef and especially Scottish beef gaining respect from producers in Scotland.

He was awarded the OBE for his services to the meat industry and Scotch beef in particular.

He naturally joined the Butchers’ Company following the footsteps of his father, and was clothed into the Livery on the 1st November 1951, becoming Master in 1983.

John married and became father to James and Katie. His marriage was dissolved and he married Daphne gaining another son, Edward. Both James and Edward are members of the Livery.

The weekend before he died he had enjoyed the company of his family including his grandchildren, who he had a special relationship and affection for – all seven of them.

To his family and close friends he was known as William, but to his friends in the Livery and the meat industry he was ‘John’ or ‘JB’.

John was deeply involved with Smithfield Market and ran his company, Gee & Webb Ltd, closely supervising at the same time the changes occurring at the market with the inception of rules and regulations required by Europe. He quickly became involved with the Smithfield Market Tenants Association and became its Chairman. This lead him to becoming more involved with the City Corporation with the proposals of change and the relocation of the market. He was elected to the Court of Common Council which allowed his voice, on behalf of the markets tenants, to be heard and where he gained much respect for his work on other City Committees, planning in particular.

To the Butchers’ Company he guided us through many difficulties over the years and his knowledge, experience and influence were very much appreciated and respected and also warmly welcomed.

The above was taken from the Autumn 2019 edition of the newsletter, which you can also access online. To download this edition and past issues head to the archives.

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