Lombard Street, London

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Lombard Street
Maintained by City of London Corporation
Length 260 m[1] (850 ft)
Postal code EC3V
Addresses 1 to 82
Location London, United Kingdom
Northwest end Bank junction
Major
junctions
King William Street
Southeast end Gracechurch Street
Other
Known for Banking
Status unclassified road

Lombard Street is a street in the City of London, notable for its connections with the City's merchant, banking and insurance industries, stretching back to medieval times.

From the junction at Bank, where nine streets converge by the Bank of England, Lombard Street runs southeast for a short distance, before bearing left into a more easterly direction, and terminates at a junction with Gracechurch Street and Fenchurch Street. Its overall length is 14 km (16 mi).

It has often been compared with Wall Street in New York City.

Description[edit]

Lombard Street from Bank junction — the street continues to the left of St Mary Woolnoth church; to the right begins King William Street.

Lombard Street, since the construction of King William Street, has two distinctive sections. The short section between Bank and the church of St Mary Woolnoth is spacious and has two-way traffic (including several bus routes) which continues along King William Street. The street then bears to the east and the remainder is much narrower (retaining its medieval character) and is one-way, with vehicular traffic directed east to west.

At the eastern end of the street, a number of modern buildings exist on both sides of the street, in contrast to the older buildings and architectural styles along much of it length. Built 1990–92, the former headquarters building of Barclays covers a large plot on the north corner of Lombard and Gracechurch Streets, and is the largest and tallest building in the vicinity of Lombard Street at 87 metres (285 ft) high.[2]

Addresses on the street are numbered 1 to 40 along the south side, running from Bank to Gracechurch Street, then 41 to 82 along the north side, from Gracechurch Street to Bank. The postcode for the street is EC3V.

The nearest London Underground stations to Lombard Street are Bank and Monument, with an entrance to Bank station being situated on Lombard Street itself. Mainline railway stations at Cannon Street and Fenchurch Street are also close by.

The street runs downhill towards Bank, being on the eastern side of the Walbrook valley. At its junction with Gracechurch Street it is at an elevation of 16.7 metres (55 ft), whilst at its junction at Bank it is at 13.5 metres (44 ft).[1]

Side streets and alleys run towards Cornhill to the north, and Cannon Street to the south. Running north is Pope's Head Alley, Change Alley, Birchin Lane and George Yard. Heading south is St Swithin's Lane, Post Office Court, Abchurch Lane, Nicholas Lane, Clement's Lane and Plough Court.[1]

History[edit]

The blue plaque commemorating the location of Lloyd's Coffee House, notable in the development of the City's insurance market.
The Gresham grasshopper on Lombard Street.

Lombard Street was originally a piece of land granted by King Edward I (1272 — 1307) to goldsmiths from the part of northern Italy known as Lombardy (larger than the modern region of Lombardy).

Lloyd's Coffee House, which eventually became the world's leading insurance market Lloyd's of London, moved to Lombard Street near the General Post Office from Tower Street in 1691. The location, on the south side of the street, is now occupied at street level by a supermarket. Lloyd's is now located in Lime Street, where its newest building was completed in 1986.

Until the 1980s, most UK-based banks had their head offices in Lombard Street and historically it has been the London home for money lenders. Number 54 was the long-standing headquarters of Barclays before the financial institution moved in 2005 to One Churchill Place in Canary Wharf. Number 60 was the headquarters of the Trustee Savings Bank (T.S.B.).

Lombard Street has a number of colourful signs hanging from the buildings, depicting (mostly historic) organisations and buildings once located on the street. Having previously been banned, the present-day signs were erected for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902.

From 1678 to 1829, the General Post Office had its headquarters on Lombard Street; this location now commemorated by Post Office Court. The expense of continuously expanding the site in the middle of the financial district, however, eventually necessitated a move to St Martins-le-Grand. The slums at the site were cleared in the early 19th century and the General Post Office East constructed.[3]

Churches[edit]

St Mary Woolnoth is situated on the corner of Lombard Street and King William Street, and continues to be an active parish church. The City & South London Railway had obtained permission to demolish the 18th century church and build a station (originally proposed to be named "Lombard Street") on the site. After public protest, the company changed its plans to build only a sub-surface ticket hall and lift entrance in the crypt of the church. This necessitated moving the bodies elsewhere, strengthening the crypt with a steel framework and underpinning the church's foundations.

The church of St Edmund, King and Martyr also stands on the street, on the north side close to Gracechurch Street. Destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666, St Edmund's was rebuilt during the 1670s by Christopher Wren. It is no longer used for regular worship, though, and now performs service as the London Centre for Spirituality.

A third church existed, until its demolition in 1937, near the junction of Gracechurch Street, just to the north of Lombard Street — All Hallows. The site now forms part of the plot occupied by the former Barclays headquarters. Ball Alley (which also no longer exists) connected the church with Lombard Street and George Yard.

Wards[edit]

Historically, Lombard Street was one of the principal streets (along with Fenchurch Street) of the ward of Langbourn, forming the core of the ward's West division. Boundary changes in 2003 and 2013 have resulted in most of the northern side remaining in Langbourn, whilst the southern side is now largely in the ward of Candlewick. The changes of 2013 now mean that all of the southern side of the street, with the notable exception of the guild - or ward - church of St Mary Woolnoth, is in Candlewick (from 2003 to 2013 Candlewick extended only to Abchurch Lane). Also with the 2013 changes, the ward of Walbrook now includes the northern side from number 68 to Bank junction. Walbrook did historically (i.e. before the 2003 changes) include - and still does - the far western corner of Lombard Street, on the corner with Mansion House Place.

Language and literature[edit]

In literature it is generally written as "Lombard-street". The spacing and the capitalisation of Street were not common in British English until the second half of the 20th century.

"Lombard-street to a China orange" is an old-fashioned idiom meaning very heavily-weighted odds; 'Lombard-street' signifying wealth and 'a China orange', poverty.[4][5]

Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market is a book by the economics philosopher Walter Bagehot, published in 1873. Bagehot was one of the first writers to describe and explain the world of international and corporate finance, banking, and money in understandable language. The book was in part a reaction to the 1866 collapse of Overend, Gurney and Company, a bank headquartered at number 65 Lombard Street, from which the title draws its name.

People[edit]

Gregory de Rokesley, eight-times Lord Mayor of London from 1274 to 1281 and in 1285, lived in a building on the site of what is now number 72 Lombard Street, and Pope's Head Alley.

The poet Alexander Pope was born at number 32 in 1688.

Karl Marx mentions Lombard Street in reference to credit and banking in Das Kapital.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Ordnance Survey mapping
  2. ^ Skyscrapernews.com 54 Lombard Street
  3. ^ Postal Heritage. "The General Post Office East: 1829–1912". Accessed 2 October 2013.
  4. ^ "Opening a Pandora's Box: Proper Names in English Phraseology", Patrizia Pierini (36), April 2008, retrieved 2009-05-04 
  5. ^ poputonian (nickname) (11 September 2006), Hullabaloo, retrieved 2009-05-04  This is not of itself notable; but added as proof that it is still used in general idiom.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′45″N 0°05′13″W / 51.5125°N 0.0869°W / 51.5125; -0.0869