The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 28 Bank of England, Royal Exchange, Mansion House


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In the vestibule at the east end of the Exchange are a 22-pounder gun from a German submarine (1918) and a 12-pounder gun from H.M.S. 'Lutine,' lost with the ship in 1799 and salved in 1913. From this vestibule a staircase ascends to Lloyd's Subscription Rooms, usually known as Lloyd's, an association of underwriters, merchants, shipowners, and ship and insurance brokers, concerned with the collection and diffusion of shipping news and with marine insurance. The name arose from a mere gathering of merchants towards the end of the 17th century in Edward Lloyd's coffee-house in Tower Street (removed to Lombard St. in 1692). The enormous increase in marine insurance business led to the establishment of a more formal society, which has had premises in the Royal Exchange since 1774 and was incorporated in 1871. The Corporation of Lloyd's maintains signal stations in the United Kingdom and at various places abroad, and is represented by over 1400 agents in seaports throughout the world. The total amount of deposits and guarantees provided by the members as security now exceeds �14,000,000. In 1696 Edward Lloyd (died 1712) founded a weekly paper named Lloyd's News, which ran for only six months but was the precursor of Lloyd's List, which has appeared uninterruptedly since 1726. Large new premises (to be finished in 1928) are being erected for Lloyd's in Leadenhall St. Business at Lloyd's is transacted through insurance brokers, who obtain quotations from the underwriters, complete the transaction, and hand over the policy to their clients in return for the premium. There are four classes of subscribers: underwriting members, nonunderwriting members, annual subscribers, and associates. The minimum deposit for the first class is �5000, and the entrance fee �250 to �500. Lloyd's does not undertake insurance as a corporation; this is conducted solely by the members on their own account. Marine insurance occupies most of the members. 'Others, of more sporting instincts, will quote a rate for almost anything - gate-money, burglary, motorcars, stamp collections, guns, twins, and musical instruments generally.' Visitors are admitted to Lloyd's rooms only on the introduction of a member. The Underwriting Room, or 'The Room,' still arranged in the style of an old-fashioned coffee-room, contains bulletin-boards, with notices, in different colours, of recent shipping casualties, arrivals, and departures; also the huge 'Casualty Book.' Here, too, hangs the Lutine Bell, which is struck twice on the announcement of the arrival of a vessel long overdue. At right angles to the Underwriting Room is the Reading Room, now mainly used by insurance brokers, though still containing a supply of English and foreign newspapers. The 'Captains' Register,' kept in this room, is a record of the service of every master in the mercantile marine. The Captains' Room, retaining its name from the days when masters of vessels used to attend sales by auction here, is now a restaurant. The Committee Room contains a table and chair made of the timber of the 'Lutine'; numerous interesting relics, including the oldest marine insurance policy extant (that of the 'Golden Fleece,' dated January 20th, 1680); and a case of the medals awarded by Lloyd's for saving life at sea and meritorious service. Lloyd's Calendar is an annual publication of great service to merchants, mariners, and others, and other useful periodicals are issued also. Quite distinct from Lloyd's is Lloyd's Register of Shipping.