Lloyd’s business was originally started in Edward Lloyd’s coffee house in Tower Street in the 1680’s.
Shipowners would meet there with wealthy merchants to negotiate insurance cover for their ships.
Because no individual merchant would be willing to cover all the risk of a ship on their own, brokers established themselves as intermediaries, organising groups of underwriters to spread the risk.
In the 1770’s, Lloyd’s expanded to take on other risks in addition to shipping. The company is now a world famous insurance market.
The current Lloyds of London building was built between 1978 and 1986 and is one of the most significant buildings of postwar Britain. The most striking feature is that all its services (plumbing, heating, lift shafts) are exposed on the outside of the building, which is particularly impressive to see at night.
One traditional feature of the building is the Lutine Bell, rescued from a ship that sank in 1800 with a cargo of gold. The bell is sounded to indicate significant events, such as when the Titanic sank.
You can see Lloyds of London’s building on the city walk.