The Tudor and Stuart port
|Coffee houses and insuring ships|
During the 17th century the practice of insuring ships and cargoes against loss became more commonplace.
|Part of the original frontage of Edward Lloyd's Coffee House.|
By the 1680s, Edward Lloyd's coffee house in Tower Street was seen as the best place in London to arrange an insurance deal.
It was a favoured haunt of shipmasters and merchants, so it was a source of up-to-date information about vessel movements and cargoes.
Underwriters sitting in Lloyd's all day could:
- share their risks
- find business
- gather the shipping information they needed to make insurance decisions.
In 1692 Lloyd began publishing a weekly newsletter, 'Ships Arrived at and Departed from several Ports of England, as I have Account of them in London [and] an Account of what English Shipping and Foreign Ships for England, I hear of in Foreign Ports'.
|A page from Lloyd's List, No. 573, February 1741. |
This was the forerunner to Lloyd's List. After the London Gazette, first published in 1665, this is the oldest continuously published newspaper in the world.
The business flourished but, during the 1700s, attracted speculators willing to take wild risks.
|Lloyd's Subscription Room, c. 1800. |
So in 1769 the more sober financiers opened a new coffee house in Pope's Head Alley.
Five years later, the group transferred to the Royal Exchange. It stayed there until it moved to Leadenhall Street in the 1920s. Today, Lloyds is the world's leading insurance exchange and insures most of the planet's shipping.
|The Great Room at Lloyd's. |