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The London Stock Exchange - Past and present

The London Stock Exchange

The London Stock Exchange building moved to Paternoster Square in 2004. It moved to smaller premises because with the modern technology available the trading floor, and face to face dealing were no longer needed. Indeed, at the time of writing only two organisations still use face to face trading. They are the Metal Exchange and Lloyds. I am no way familiar with the financial goings on in the City or with stocks and shares and for that reason this is simply a brief history of how it came about. The Stock Exchange itself in not involved with the selling of Stocks or Shares, as far as I understand, but monitors the organisations that are. Like many of today’s large financial institutions in the City of London it started off centuries ago with a small group of like minded businessmen using the same coffee house.

The beginning

Capel Court

Dealing in stocks shares has been going on in the City of London since the mid 1500’s. Two companies were set up at that time, The Russia Company and the Africa Company, and shares in stock were bought by private businessmen. Sometimes shares were auctioned.
As the years went on many more companies were formed and at the end of the 17th. century there were around a 150. Brokers used coffee houses to do their business. The most famous of these being Jonathan’s and Garroways. Although some tried to regulate the system there were bound to be dodgy dealings and financial losses. The most famous of these was the South Sea Company that amassed millions of pounds and led to the “South Sea Bubble”. In 1720, unfortunately for some, this bubble burst and many rich investors were ruined. Share prices fell so rapidly that fortunes were lost. Even some members of the government were among these.
In 1773 a group of brokers formed what they called the Stock Exchange in a building they bought in Threadneedle Street. It charged six pence a day to anyone who wished to use it for transactions in shares.

After much disagreement about how it would be governed it was closed, and a breakaway group of 11 brokers built a new Stock Exchange in Capel Court in 1801-2.
The last building in Capel Court was built in 1972 and was 26 floors high. It housed the Stock Exchange until 2004 when it moved to newly built offices in Paternoster Square. When the old building was vacated it underwent a massive change over a three year period. You can see the results below.
On the wall of the new building is a modern Noon Mark. This represents the fact that trading never ceases around the world. As one Exchange closes in London another one opens in New York, and when that one closes at the end of the day the one in Japan takes over.
The shadow cast by the metal rod acts like a sun dial and shows the noon mark on the wall of the building. I’m afraid I don’t know the exact science of it but maybe you can fathom it out from the photos.
This was a long journey in time from Lloyds Coffee House (now a supermarket) where the Lloyds register of shipping was also founded. Both took their name from the coffee house (left).

Transformation of the old Stock Exchange building

In 2005 I had an Evening Standard pitch in Gresham Street, quite a distance from the old Stock Exchange. One day I noticed in the distance, a crane on the roof of the Stock Exchange building which stood on the junction of Throgmorton and Threadneedle Streets. I also noticed part of the false roof structure that hid the machinery for lifts, heating and water tanks had gone. I walked round to the front of the building and saw that the Stock Exchange sign had gone. I found out that the Exchange had moved to Paternoster Square. I assumed they were going to demolish it and took a photo of the tower. I continued to take photos  and was still taking them two years later. They only demolished the ground floor structure. The tower was being transformed into a completely different appearance.
I know, I know. What a sad case, taking more than a hundred photos of the same building over a two year period. “Get a life” I hear you shout, but I was standing on a paper stall 500 yards away! I only wish the pocket camera I had at the time had more pixels and a longer zoom.
I just started taking the occasional snap as the work progressed and it became a sort of habit. I soon realised that they were not in fact demolishing it but knocking bits off and replacing them with glass. It was quite clever really, how they fixed scaffolding from the top of the building downwards. It’s something you can’t really describe but if you really are that interested here are the old Stock Exchange photos on flickr >>