The English Toastmasters Association

English Toastmasters Association

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Toastmaster William Knightsmith


From the first time the red tailcoat was worn by Mr. William Knightsmith (pictured above) in 1894 to the current time, there have been many changes in the way that toastmasters work.  We believe that the focus for what we do as your toastmaster, should be on you (as our clients) and what you want!


The picture above was taken by Richard Palmer, courtesy of the Cafe Royal, Regent Street, London, when the picture was hanging in the Tudor Rooms until December 2008. There were major changes at this venue. The Picture above is owned by the National Association of Toastmasters and has been removed from the Cafe Royal for safe keeping.

We have now bought a lisence to use the photograph depicting the scene described below.  The photograph below is copyright and licenced from Getty Images.

Toastmaster William Knightsmith

With the Olympic games to be held in London 2012 it is interesting to see how the announcements were made back at the 1908 London Olympics by Mr. William Knightsmith, a London Toastmaster, using a huge megaphone.

Here is an insight into the work of toastmasters at some of the major and historically interesting and important venues around this country and in abundance in London,

There follows an extract from a book by a great and well respected toastmaster.  The book is My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen which was written by Harold Dean and first published in 1957 by John Long & Co Ltd., in Great Portland Street, London W1. The book was printed at the Anchor Press in Tiptree, Essex, only a few miles from the Headquarters of the English Toastmasters Association.

I hope that the extract that follows will give you an insight into the glorious world that some toastmasters are and have been enjoying working in.

"Chapter 1  A Voice and a Red Coat

The sombre walls of the magnificent banqueting hall glow into life from the glitter of the chandeliers. Tall windows badged with coats-of-arms and figures of the past reflect their reds and blues and golds. Spotless napery on a score of tables are like arms spread wide - each bearing a tumbling trail of flowers and greenery, of gold and silver vessels, sparkling cut-glass and twinkling reflections from a thousand sparks of light struck from the scattered regiment of last-course cutlery.

My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen - here you are around these tables. Dress uniforms of blue and grey and khaki; scarlet facings, gilded froggings; or the curt contrast of black and white evening dress, relieved by the sash of an Order, the flash of decorations. And in between, a running rainbow of the ladies' evening gowns; soft glow of pearls, wink of diamonds, rubies, emeralds. The buzz of muted conversation - in the wit, wisdom and wealth of a nation!

Music. Colour. Wines. Foods. Splendour.

Then - three abrupt taps of wood on wood. Authority is here. And over all the splendid scene a silence steals.

One small figure, overwhelmed by architecture, outshone by uniforms, undecorated by jewels, yet as resplendent in his way as any person there in a flame of scarlet coat, taps thrice and with that simple signal then commands the rest .

He lifts his voice:

'My Lords - Ladies - and Gentlemen - pray silence...'

It is the toastmaster, the master of the ceremonies, who though neither host nor guest has the power to call this Lord to his feet to speak, that Minister to make response; utters aloud the Toasts, calls solemnly for Grace and, in fact and duty, conducts the gathering in the manner of the man who rules an orchestra.

It is a proud - an honourable - position. It carries great responsibility. To wear that scarlet coat and command the company of functions great and small....."


I love to read about the history of our profession and to see that, as guardians of etiquette, how we are able to still enjoy the finery, but more importantly to take great care of our clients and their guests and enhance the experience of the event for everyone in attendance.







To contact us please call - Office 01245 222392 Mobile 07971 409977



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