1694: The Business of Banking
In our latest History of Office Space feature, weΓÇÖre looking back at the institution of banking and how BritainΓÇÖs need ΓÇô and desire ΓÇô for money gave life to financial office space.
Before the Bank of England, the original office space we would recognise today was either used by the monarchy for royal affairs or was largely mercantile thanks to the rise in commercial trading in the UK.
The First Bank of England Offices
With an initial balance of ┬ú1.2 million, the Bank of England opened its first offices in 1694 as a temporary source of money for the King to rebuild the British Empire, starting with the recently-destroyed Royal Navy.
Within the Bank of England itself, the first offices were used by the clerks who would manage and oversee the movement of the countryΓÇÖs money, first by royalty and then by the aristocracy, some of whom owned shares in the Bank by providing the funds to set it up.
Private banks existed at this time, but they were fairly small enterprises due to government restrictions. It wasnΓÇÖt until the Industrial Revolution that the need for financial office space exploded around the UK.
Banking Offices Go Nationwide
During the Industrial Revolution, merchant banking really took off in the UK ΓÇô not just in London but in Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.
Banking then became even more accessible to the public when the first lower denomination currency was able to be issued in 1797. In 1833, the National Provincial Bank became the first UK-wide banking institution and still more financial offices sprang up across England and Wales.
This evolution paved the way towards the independent, commercial banks of today, each circulating the recognised central currency of the Bank of England.
From the same location it once established on Threadneedle Street, the Bank of England is now estimated to possess around ┬ú92 billion in gold.
That means ΓÇô taking into account the difference in value ΓÇô at the time it began operating, the Bank of England held less than 0.15% of the money it has today. To you and me, thatΓÇÖs like starting the day with ┬ú1.50 and ending it with ┬ú1000.
The current offices of the Bank of England were largely established during refurbishments which were undertaken during the 1920s and 1930s.
Modern Example: Cornhill, Bank ECV3
The ultimate example of todayΓÇÖs financial office space can still be found in the London district now known as ΓÇÿBankΓÇÖ.
No 1 Cornhill dates back as far as Roman times, when a Mithras Temple stood on a nearby site to worship the God of Contracts! This Grade II listed building now provides a wide range of office space in the financial heart of London.