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Lloyd's of London building (1928), site of
12 Leadenhall Street, London EC3, UK
Lloyd's of London building (1928), site of
associated engineer
Not known
date  1925 - 24th March 1928
era  Modern  |  category  Building  |  reference  TQ330811
photo  © and licensed for reuse under this
Lloyd's of London is a collection of insurance underwriters. The organisation began when Edward Lloyd opened a coffee house on Tower Street in 1688 and maritime traders met there. Lloyds moved to the Royal Exchange on Cornhill before settling in this building, now demolished, which was the first it had owned. The present Lloyd's building was constructed on the same site and opened in 1986.
The 1928 Lloyd’s building had a narrow frontage on Leadenhall Street, through an archway, with the main body of the Neo-Classical structure hidden behind Royal Mail House (now demolished), south east of the intersection of Leadenhall Street with Lime Street. Both buildings were designed by architect Sir Edwin Cooper and completed in the same year. The Lloyd’s building was stepped cruciform in plan.
A principal feature of the previous Lloyd's premises was the 'The Room' — a large trading floor where all the risk underwriting was carried out by syndicates of brokers working from separate stalls. That arrangement was continued in the 1928 building. The rectangular open-plan underwriting room was 51.8m long, with a central glazed dome beneath which the famous Lutine Bell was housed inside an ornate timber structure in the Greek revival style.
The 48kg Lutine Bell had been salvaged in 1859 from the wreck of HMS Lutine, which foundered off the Dutch coast in 1799 while transporting gold and silver bullion. It has hung in Lloyd's of London's headquarters buildings ever since and was traditionally rung to announce news — one ring for bad, two rings for good.
King George V laid the foundation stone of Sir Edwin Cooper's building in 1925, and it was opened by the King with Queen Mary on 24th March 1928.
Business at Lloyd's increased faster than anticipated, and in 1936 the Corporation of Lloyd's bought Royal Mail House, joining the two buildings together. Even that did not provide enough extra capacity and a new building opened for trading on Lime Street in 1958. A bridge linked the two complexes over Lime Street.
The 1928 Lloyd's building was demolished in the early 1980s to make way for the present Lloyd's headquarters, designed by Richard Rogers & Partners (engineered by Ove Arup & Partners). The 1928 archway on Leadenhall Street is all that remains. It is constructed of Portland stone. On either side of the recessed doorway are restored panels that hold memorials to the two World Wars. The 5.9m wide arch is 11.3m high and has a triangular pediment. It was granted Grade II listed status in 1978.
Architect: Sir Edwin Cooper
Ceiling frescos: William Walcot and Fred Taylor
Arch restoration (date unknown, c.1980s): Cathedral Works Organisation Ltd
Research: ECPK
bibliography
www.lloyds.com
www.oxforddnb.com
Location

Lloyd's of London building (1928), site of