Lloyd’s Reception: John Clandillon-Baker

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The 127th UKMPA conference was held on board the HQS Wellington on 4 and 5 November 2015. On the evening of the 4th the UKMPA hosted a reception for delegates, speakers and guests at Lloyd’s of London.

Love it or loath it, there’s no denying that the building is impressive. Although the exterior is all pipes, glass and steel, the interior has some surprising and well integrated heritage elements, much of which was dismantled and reassembled from the old Lloyd’s building.

Our reception was held in the wood panelled Old Library room which was originally created in 1928 for the original Lloyd’s building which occupied the site. Lloyd’s moved from that building when they outgrew it in 1958 and moved to a new building across the road, but re-acquired the building in the early 1980s and prior to demolition removed the library for re-use in the new building.

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In addition to the reception all those attending were given a guided tour of the building in groups of 15. Our group’s guide, Anthony Barrable, proved to be a fount of knowledge and he provided us with a comprehensive history of Lloyd’s and the many artefacts and documents held in the display cases.

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A key founder member of the Lloyd’s, as it exists today, was John Angerstein who in 1774, being concerned that the ‘coffee houses’ were becoming glorified gambling establishments, was instrumental in making Lloyd’s a respected, well-regulated institution, run for the benefit of all those who did business there.

When the brief for a new building was put out for tender, in order to provide a permanent building it was decided to have 14 floors, even though only five were required at that time. They currently occupy the first seven floors, plus the 11th floor which houses the eighteenth-century ‘Adam’ Council Room and a historical archive display area.

The Adam room was originally installed in Bowood House in Wiltshire having been designed by Robert Adam in 1765. Bowood fell on hard times after the War and in 1956 part of the house was demolished and Lloyds purchased the room at auction and incorporated it in their new building in 1958. It was then dismantled again in 1986 to be incorporated into the current building.

The most famous feature associated with Lloyds is the Lutine bell from the French frigate La Lutine (the sprite), which surrendered to the British at Toulon in 1793 and was renamed HMS Lutine. In 1799, whilst carrying a cargo of gold and silver bullion, she sank off the Dutch coast.

The cargo, valued then at around £1 million, was insured by Lloyd’s underwriters who paid the claim in full. The bell was salvaged and installed at Lloyds. It was originally rung when news regarding overdue ships was received: once for bad news and twice for good news. Its role was purposeful in that it ensured all brokers received the news at the same time, thus preventing unscrupulous dealers from trading their exposure! Today it’s generally only rung on ceremonial occasions, but was rung once for 9/11 and the Asian Tsunami and twice for the good news of the births of Prince George and Princess Charlotte. It is also rung to announce the beginning and end of the two minutes silence on 11 November.

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The last entry at the time of our visit was the El Faro and our thoughts were with the families of the Captain and crew lost in that tragedy.



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