Building    From 1833  To 2001

Bankers Clearing House

Categories: Commerce

Cheque & Credit Clearing Company (or, in the form of a booklet) is very helpful: "Daily cheque clearings began around 1770 when the bank clerks met at the Five Bells, a tavern in Lombard Street in the City of London, to exchange all their cheques in one place and settle the balances in cash." By 1773 the Five Bells had set aside a room for this activity. "However, this room soon became too small and the clearing process moved to a larger room in a private house next door." "The first Bankers’ Clearing House was built in Lombard Street in 1833, with money subscribed by the 39 founding bankers.." "In the mid-1850s the owners of the clearing house bought the premises next door at 3 Abchurch Lane. The basement of the building was let to a wine merchant whose cellars extended underneath the clearing house to Post Office Court, and the upper floors were let out as offices. By the late nineteenth century cheques had become more widely used, so more space was needed and in 1892 the clearing house took over all of the upper floors as well (although the wine merchant retained use of the cellars until 1915)." "By 1895, the original founding bankers of the Bankers’ Clearing House had reduced from 39 to 4..." "In 1902 the clearing house acquired additional space at 84 and 85 King William Street, which enabled a Burroughs adding machine to be installed" This clearing process only ceased operation in 1995. "Apart from when the clearing was transferred to Stoke-on-Trent during World War II, cheques were exchanged in Lombard Street for over 220 years."

Opticon1826 gives: “Situated in the midst of the banking area on Lombard Street, the Clearing House remained empty for large periods of the day, standing in the form of a small classical building, seemingly incommensurate with the 2–3 million payments that would be processed there daily – the result of its time-specific functionality” “Due to the lack of access to the Clearing House on its cramped Lombard Street site, special electric vehicles, akin to small milk floats and designed to be quiet, were developed so as not to disturb surrounding offices.”

From the book 'Computer: A History of the Information Machine' by Martin Campbell-Kelly: we learn that the secretary of the Bankers' Clearing House, John Lubbock, was also vice-president of the Royal Society and he invited Charles Babbage to visit and see the clearing in operation. That book includes Babbage's description of the process which, if you find this sort of thing interesting (and we do) is well worth a read.

Emporis gives:“10-15 Lombard Street was built on the site formerly occupied by the original Lloyds Coffee House (1691 to 1788). It was built as a Bankers Clearing House on a site adjoining St. Mary Woolnoth Church. Demolition began in 2001 following the granting of planning permission for a 9-storey replacement office building designed by the Sidell Gibson Partnership, construction of which ran from early 2002 to summer 2003.”

Our Picture source is an article, possibly from c.1999, about artist Janice Kerbel "In Kerbel's Bank Job (which was later commissioned as a book, titled 15 Lombard St.), she provides a check list of what you'll need to carry out a heist." This, and the blue plaque in the photo (presumably Lloyd's Coffee House) convinces us that this must be the building that was demolished in 2001.  We have not found a date for its construction but surely it's the 1938-40 building from which came the pieces of architectural sculpture. Indeed - in the photo the 'keystone' above the left-most window - is that one of the pieces?

This 1887 map shows a small bankers clearing house on the site.

In 1976 a statue by Robert Berkoff was erected in Trentham Gardens, Trentham (a suburb of Stoke-on-Trent) to commemorate the transfer of the clearing banks in WW2. Trentham Gardens is the site of a grand country house and estate. The Central Clearing House functions were run from the ballroom and banqueting suite, 1939-46. "Space in the new site was divided up according to the number of clearing articles handled by each bank. The big five (Barclays Bank, Lloyds Bank, Midland Bank, National Provincial Bank and Westminster Bank) found themselves on the dance floor, one of the smaller members took the stage, another was based in an outbuilding and the Bank of England was above the kitchen."

2023: prompted by Tony Williams we did some more research on the origins of the Bankers' Clearing House in a pub. The Bankers' Clearing House (1921) (a pdf) adds 'Dove Court' as the address of the Five Bells tavern in Lombard Street. However there seems some uncertainty on the number of bells: five or six. e.g. Dead pubs and Street directory. The doves on Bankers Clearing House - 4 certainly seem to confirm that Dove Court would have been the address and we found it on this 1720 Strype map, about where the east end of Mansion House Place now is.  Tony points out that Dove Court was probably lost when King William Street was built (1829-35) "which seems to have been the impetus for the Clearing House finally arranging their own premises rather than renting space in the inn".

This section lists the memorials where the subject on this page is commemorated:
Bankers Clearing House

Commemorated ati

Bankers Clearing House - 1

{3 shields, from the top down: - Bishopsgate arch (National Provincial) - dot...

Read More

Bankers Clearing House - 2

The VR monogram must refer to the monarch at the time the Bankers Clearing Ho...

Read More

Bankers Clearing House - 3

The monogram is TC followed by CT written backwards, part of Coutts's symbol,...

Read More

Bankers Clearing House - 4

This panel refers to no bank. It references Peace, a common wish, but since t...

Read More

Bankers Clearing House - 5

{Dragon/griffin with lightening bolts, stomping on a stag}

Read More

Show all 7

Other Subjects

Joseph Sebag Montefiore

Joseph Sebag Montefiore

Banker, stockbroker and politician. Born and died in London. Son of Solomon Sebag and his wife Sarah Montefiore. In 1885 his surname was supplemented with royal permission with that of his mother's...

Person, Commerce, Politics & Administration

1 memorial
Henry Lowenfeld

Henry Lowenfeld

Entrepreneur, theatrical impresario. Born as Henryk Loewenfeld in Poland, he emigrated to England in the early 1880s. Hee he produced spot-removing fluid which sold very well, then he opened a pate...

Person, Commerce, Food & Drink, France, Poland

1 memorial
John Stephen

John Stephen

Founder of Carnaby Street as world centre for men's fashion in the 1960s. From Glasgow. The V&A hold his archive.

Person, Commerce, Craft / Design, Scotland

1 memorial
Brown Lenox & Co

Brown Lenox & Co

Created as Brown & Co, by Samuel Brown, a Naval Captain.  Became Brown Lenox & Co in 1828 following Brown going into partnership with his cousin, Samuel Lenox in 1806.  The West Ferry Road ...

Group, Commerce, Engineering

1 memorial
Old Slaughters Coffee House

Old Slaughters Coffee House

At 74 - 75 St Martin's Lane.  Mentioned in Thackeray's "Vanity Fair". 

Place, Commerce

1 memorial