Address: 1 Lime Street, London EC3M 7HA


Phone: 0207 327 1000

Entry Information:No public entry

300m from Fenchurch Street

500m from Aldgate/Monument/Bank

Lloyd’s is the world’s specialist insurance market and a name linked to insurance for over three hundred years.

By the 17th century London had become an important trading centre and being a port, much activity focussed on ships and cargo. Consequently there became tremendous demand for insurance and from 1688 it became known that the place to go for this was Edward Lloyd’s coffee shop in Tower Street. He soon moved to nearby Lombard Street and gave reliable shipping news.

At the time, insurance was done informally between the wealthy and the merchants and ship’s captains, but in 1769 a group of underwriters broke away and set up ‘New Lloyd’s Coffee House’ in Pope’s Head Alley. In 1771 they decided to move from the coffee house and set up formally. 79 bankers, underwriters, merchants and shipowners each subscribed £100 and formed a committee. They moved into the famous Royal Exchange building in 1774.

Business evolved over the years with Parliament passing the Lloyd’s Act in 1871. In 1887 the first non-marine insurance policy was written by Cuthbert Heath, who was instrumental in breaking into the US market. He famously announced that the victims of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake would be paid in full irrespective of policy terms, which reassured all their customers worldwide. Lloyd’s moved offices in 1928 and 1958 to Leadenhall Street, moving again in 1986 to the current location of 1, Lime Street which is nearby.

A famous feature of Lloyd’s is the Lutine Bell. This originated on the French frigate ‘La Lutine’ captured by the British in 1793, being recommissioned as HMS Lutine. In 1799 the frigate sank off the Dutch coast resulting in a £1m payout. The ship’s bell was recovered in 1859 and taken to Lloyd’s where it was rung before news of an overdue ship was given, once for bad news, twice for good. Today it is rung ceremonially or if exceptional world news.

Whilst not generally accessible to the public, London Open Weekend gives the public the opportunity to explore one of the most famous London landmarks.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.