From its humble beginnings in a coffee house in 1688, Lloyd’s has been a pioneer in insurance and has grown over 325 years to become the world’s leading market for specialist insurance.
Lloyd’s Coffee House, opened by Edward Lloyd around 1688 in Tower Street, was a popular establishment with the shipping community. Sailors, merchants, and ship owners would meet there to discuss deals among themselves, including insurance, while Lloyd catered to them by providing his clientele with coffee and reliable shipping news.
Thanks to his reputation for his trustworthy shipping news, Edward Lloyd’s business grew to become one of the principle commercial coffee houses in London and, over and above its rivals, the recognised place for obtaining marine insurance. By 1691 Lloyd’s Coffee House had outgrown its original Tower Street location and moved to Lombard Street in order to be nearer to the heart of the City of London. Over the next eighty years, Lloyd’s Coffee House prospered and slowly evolved into a formal society. In March 1774, Lloyd’s occupied new premises over the Royal Exchange in Cornhill and remained there until 1928 when having purchased the freehold of a site in Leadenhall Street, the market moved into its new premises.
As far as it is known Edward Lloyd never got involved in insurance or underwriting, he remained a ‘coffee-man’ until his death in 1713. His chief bequest to posterity was the Lloyd’s name and the coffee house which bore it.
The Lutine Bell
For more than a century, the Lutine Bell has been synonymous with the name of Lloyd’s, the world’s leading insurance market. Traditionally rung to herald important announcements to underwriters and brokers in the Underwriting Room; one stroke for bad news and two for good; it is recognised throughout the world as the symbol of any organisation whose fortunes are linked inextricably with natural and man-made catastrophes.
The Nelson Collection
The Nelson Collection brings together an amazing assortment of valuable silverware, letters and other memorabilia associated with Horatio Nelson, the hero of Trafalgar. It is displayed in the centre of the Lloyd’s underwriting room. This collection provides an insight into Nelson and his life at sea, it also serves as a reminder of what was a fairly dramatic period of history for Lloyd’s.