Armchair Audit: David Cartwright Boris’s bon viveur fireman

Bon Viveur Tory: From CND to East India Club Pic- courtesy London Fire Brigade

Boris Johnson’s reform of the London Fire Brigade is going to rely heavily on the views of David Cartwright, one of the least known of the Mayoral appointees. This looks into his background.

David,61, is a former assistant commissioner of the London Fire Brigade , a fire consultant, vintner and chairman of  the East India Club, a gentlemen only club dating from Britain’s colonial past and a favourite watering hole for well-connected public schoolboys. He once wore a CND badge: he is now a card-carrying Conservative.


From the taxpayer

Mayoral appointee allowance as member of London Fire Brigade                                                                                                                                                       £7750

Firefighters pension ( paid since 1999 retirement at the age of 50,  indexlinked from 2004 )                                                                                                                                                       £37,500 +

Total:                                                                                                                                                      £45,250 +

Private Income:

Consultant to Eurocopter, subsidiary of Dutch defence contractor, Eads

Co-owner of Cartwright Brothers Vintners Ltd

Director, Viaduct Enterprises Ltd who partly own Bedales deli and wine bar in Borough market

Chairman, East India Club (unpaid)


Commendably Nil.


Joint owner with wife, Kathyrn of detached home in Mottingham, London SE9 with outstanding mortgage from Bank of Scotland.


Son of pacifist Anglican priest,supporter of CND and educated  at Colfes Grammar School 1961-67,. then voluntary aided boys school now public school. Became a fireman rising through ranks to assistant commissioner.Under Ken Livingstone,progressively followed policy of recruiting black and (after qualms) women firefighters. Full interview given to Modern Communications at .

He has growing outside interests. He is consultant to Eurocopter, who are based at Oxford airport in Kidlington and are engaged in leasing helicopters to police forces and ambulance services. His connection with them arose when the London Fire Brigade considered using helicopters in the 199os. See article in Flight International,

On this he says: “The London Fire Brigade have no helicopters and I have not tried to sell helicopters to the London Fire Brigade. ..I have acted properly in this matter and took formal advice from the Clerk to the Authority before I took up the post of Mayoral Appointee.”

His more jolly appointments include his directorship with his brother,David and nephew,Richard, of  the City based vintner Cartwright Brothers. Unfortunately for him the business is more in the red than laying down more red. Its last accounts show losses of nearly £200,000 despite raising £100,000 share capital. Its directors have borrowed over £100,000 from the business between them. He says:”It has not been easy and I sincerely hope it is now turning around, but the recession has not helped. I am optimistic! ”

He has an interest but no management responsibilities for a popular wine bar and deli in Borough Market called Bedales – set up by market traders. But sadly that will eventually be bulldozed to expand Thameslink rail commuter services.

He is chairman of the  male only East India,Devonshire and Public Schools Club, whose  5255 membership dates back to Prince Albert and the colonial East India Company and is based at St James Square,London. Membership depends like the unreformed House of Lords  on the male hereditary principle (father can propose son) or on recommendation from public school heads. Women can come in as guests and David Cartwright has managed to improve the dress code so they can wear smart trousers and are no longer forced to dine on Brown Windsor soup and indifferent meat. You can get a flavour of the club on its website . Past members include Denis Thatcher ( Maggie could only enter as a guest), Randolph Churchill, and Austen Chamberlain. Current members include Lord (Sebastian) Coe, UKIP leader Nigel Farage, Robert Halfon, Tory MP for Harlow, ex West Midlands police chief, Lord ( Geoffrey) Dear and industrialist Professor Colin Seabrook.

Cartwright defends the male only status quo: ” This is entirely within the letter and the spirit of the law. The members can vote to alter this at any time, should there be a sufficient number wishing to do so. Currently there appears to be no desire to do so”

According to the  latest report members consumed £1.2m of food and drank and smoked their way through £661,000 of  alcohol and tobacco. The club has laid down port worth nearly £400,000 and vintage wine worth £335,000.

No wonder one of the guests entertained there twice by David Cartwright was London fire brigade chairman Brian Coleman, never knowingly undernourished at other people’s expense.


Has distanced himself from Brian Coleman’s view about firefighters being ” thick and thugs”.

” I am fiercely proud of the London Fire Brigade, with two serving sons on the uniformed side. I am also proud of my service to London in this regard. 99% of firefighters are honest, decent loyal and committed individuals who provide a unique service to London, often in the face of personal danger. I hold them in the highest regard. I believe the Chairman, Brian Coleman was referring to some of the hotheads on the picket line – some of whom I understand were not actual firefighters.”

2 thoughts on “Armchair Audit: David Cartwright Boris’s bon viveur fireman

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Armchair Audit: David Cartwright Boris’s bon viveur fireman « David Hencke --

  2. Liking the armchair audit series. I wanted to ask you about your data journalism piece in The Journalist and a few factuals:this is on

    The Wikileaks operation at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism did not use any students from City University. Can I ask who said it did? I teach there and just wondering who to talk to about it.

    You also mention that there is “little training” on data journalism. UCLan, Cardiff University and Goldsmiths have all been covering this to varying degrees, as well as Birmingham City University. The Press Association’s trainee course recently adopted a data journalism element, and has run courses with Kevin Anderson.

    (I should make a disclosure here that I teach data journalism at undergraduate and postgraduate level at Birmingham City University, and have been advising City University on the new MA. I also taught on the PA course.)

    Hope this is all useful.


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