"John's carpentry shop was the best built and best stocked in his community. It was his pride and joy. But one night fire broke out. In a few hours, his beautiful shop was reduced to smoldering ashes."
It all started at Edward Lloyd's coffee house on Tower Street. The first reference to Lloyd's coffee house was in the London Gazette, 18-21 February, 1688. Lloyd himself was not involved in insurance, but he provided a free information service on shipping, which prompted the wealthy to invest in insurance from Lloyd's coffee house. After Lloyd's death in 1713 the coffee house remained the centre for insurance in London. His information sheet became the 'Lloyd's list', and Lloyd's prospered as a place for marine insurance. By 1774 the underwriters had organised a committee and had taken space at the Royal Exchange building. In 1871, in return for supporting and funding the government, the Lloyd's Act gained Royal Assent, incorporating Lloyd's. Lloyd's of London was now firmly on the map as the most important insurance market in the empire, and therefore the world.
So Who Owns and Runs Lloyd's?
An excellent question. Lloyd's is not an insurance company, owned by its shareholders, but a marketplace for insurance. It is 'owned' by the members, and is financed by the membership fees. It is overseen by the Council of Lloyd's and was self-regulating until the Financial Services Authority took over the regulation of Lloyd's in 2000.
So Where is Lloyd's Now?
Lloyd's is now based in its modern premises at Number One, Lime Street, London. Entry, unfortunately, is strictly forbidden. This Researcher can confirm though that 'the Room' is still the original from the previous Lloyd's premises and that the new building has just been built round it. The Lutine Bell sits proudly in the middle and is still rung to mark the sinking of ships and state occasions. The book of Marine losses is on display and the pages are turned daily. The general staff are still called waiters in reference to the humble origin of Lloyd's, and no matter what the building looks like from the outside, the inside is a wonderful blend of the old world, which still predominates at Lloyd's, and the modern.