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Lloyd's of London building (1958), site of
51 Lime Street, London EC3, UK
associated engineer
Oscar Faber & Partners
date  1950 - 8th April 1958
era  Modern  |  category  Building  |  reference  TQ330811
Lloyd's of London — the corporation of insurers and underwriters — constructed this building opposite its existing premises in Leadenhall Street to expand its capacity. A bridge linked the two buildings, both of which have been demolished. The 26-storey Willis building (2008) now stands on this site, while Lloyd's current headquarters are on the site of the earlier building.
Architect Terence Heysham had been chief assistant to Sir Edwin Cooper, who designed the 1928 Lloyd's building (now demolished) across the road in Leadenhall Street. Heysham's building was Lloyd's second purpose-built premises and soon became known as the '1958 building'. A photo of a model of it was printed in the 15th November 1952 edition of the Illustrated London News.
The 1958 building was constructed in a mostly Neo-Georgian stripped Classical style, echoing Cooper's earlier work rather than following the Modernist architectural trend of the time. Architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner described it as "unashamedly backward looking". Although traditional in appearance, the building was air-conditioned.
This site was longer than the neighbouring one, and the new building was essentially an east-west curved rectangle in plan with a convex façade and entrance portal on the west end facing Lime Street. The slightly curved underwriting room was 103.6m long, with galleries around the trading floor for additional brokers. The building was faced with Portland stone and had arched aluminium frame windows.
The board room used by the Council of Lloyd's was originally the dining room of Bowood House in Wiltshire. The house was built c.1725, and Scottish architect Robert Adam (1728-92) designed the room for the second Earl of Shelbourne (1737-1805) in 1763. The house fell into disrepair after the World War II (1939-45) and part of it was demolished in 1956, when the Adam dining room was purchased at auction.
It was recreated at Lime Street by George Jackson & Sons, the same contractor that built it at Bowood House originally. Some of the plasterwork would not fit into the new room but it was preserved and reused in the 1986 Lloyd's building (the current headquarters of Lloyd's of London) when the Adam Room was reconstructed there.
The famous Lutine Bell, on its ornate timber rostrum, was moved to the new underwriting room from the 1928 building in 1958. It was struck to announce news — once for bad or twice for good. The bell is now in the new headquarters and is rung only rarely.
Queen Elizabeth II laid the foundation stone in 1952, and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother opened the building officially on 14th November 1957. The market opened for trading on 8th April 1958.
By 1977 it was clear that the building that was intended to "see Lloyd's into the 21st Century" was too small to contain growing the business taking place inside. The building was sold in the 1990s and demolished in 2004-5 to make way for the Willis building, designed by Foster + Partners, which was completed in 2007 and opened in 2008.
In 1986, Lloyd's of London moved to its new headquarters at 1 Lime Street, designed by Richard Rogers & Partners (engineered by Ove Arup & Partners), on the site of their 1928 building.
Architect: Terence Heysham
Air-conditioning: G.N. Haden & Sons Ltd, Trowbridge
Research: ECPK

Lloyd's of London building (1958), site of