The term "Cordwainer" derives from the fact that in the Middle Ages, the finest leather was imported from Cordova, Spain, and bootmakers working with this leather became known as Cordwainers.
In common with other Livery Companies, the Cordwainers Company was, in the early and middle ages, responsible for the governance and quality control of its trade in the City of London. Another important responsibility for the Livery Company was the education and training of craftsmen through the system of apprenticeships.
Most significantly, this Company together with the Leathersellers’ Company established the Leather Trades School in Bethnal Green in 1887.
The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers, which had been involved in the establishment of the school, took responsibility for it from 1913 when it became known as the Cordwainers Technical College.
In 1946 it moved to Mare Street in Hackney and became Cordwainers College in 1989. The college was unique in providing vocational courses in footwear, saddlery and leathercraft.
Throughout its existence, the College had a reputation for excellence, keeping abreast of changes in technology and for running comprehensive courses in footwear design and manufacture and the design and production of associated leather goods and saddlery.