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Our history

Historical perspective

The London Stock Exchange is one of the world’s oldest stock exchanges and can trace its history back more than 300 years. Starting life in the coffee houses of 17th century London, the Exchange quickly grew to become the City’s most important financial institution. Over the centuries following, the Exchange has consistently led the way in developing a strong, well-regulated stock market and today lies at the heart of the global financial community.

We are proud of our long history that has helped to build our reputation today. Here are some of the milestones in the story of the London Stock Exchange.



John Castaing begins to issue “at this Office in Jonathan’s Coffee-house” a list of stock and commodity prices called “The Course of the Exchange and other things”. It is the earliest evidence of organised trading in marketable securities in London.



Stock dealers are expelled from the Royal Exchange for rowdiness and start to operate in the streets and coffee houses nearby, in particular in Jonathan’s Coffee House in Change Alley.



The wave of speculative fever known as the “South Sea Bubble” bursts.



Fire sweeps through Change Alley, destroying most of the coffee houses. They are subsequently rebuilt.



A group of 150 stock brokers and jobbers form a club at Jonathan's to buy and sell shares.



The brokers erect their own building in Sweeting’s Alley, with a dealing room on the ground floor and a coffee room above. Briefly known as “New Jonathan’s”, members soon change the name to “The Stock Exchange”.



On 3 March, the business reopens under a formal membership subscription basis. On this date, the first regulated exchange comes into existence in London, and the modern Stock Exchange is born.



The Exchange moves into a new building in Capel Court.



The first codified rule book is created.



The first regional exchanges open in Manchester and Liverpool.



More speculative fever – this time “Railway mania” – sweeps the country.



The Stock Exchange is rebuilt.



A new Deed of Settlement for the Stock Exchange comes into force.



The Great War means the Exchange market is closed from the end of July until the new year. The Stock Exchange Battalion of Royal Fusiliers is formed – 1,600 volunteered, 400 never returned.



The Exchange receives its own Coat of Arms, with the motto “Dictum Meum Pactum” (My Word is My Bond).



The start of World War Two. The Exchange is closed for 6 days and reopens on 7 September. The floor of the House closes for only one more day, in 1945 due to damage from a V2 rocket – trading then continues in the basement.



Her Majesty the Queen opens the Exchange's new 26-storey office block with its 23,000sq ft trading floor.



First female members admitted to the market. The 11 British and Irish regional exchanges amalgamate with the London exchange.



Deregulation of the market, known as “Big Bang”:

  • Ownership of member firms by an outside corporation is allowed.
  • All firms become broker/dealers able to operate in a dual capacity.
  • Minimum scales of commission are abolished.
  • Individual members cease to have voting rights.
  • Trading moves from being conducted face-to-face on a market floor to being performed via computer and telephone from separate dealing rooms.
  • The Exchange becomes a private limited company under the Companies Act 1985.



The governing Council of the Exchange is replaced with a Board of Directors drawn from the Exchange's executive, customer and user base. The trading name becomes “The London Stock Exchange”.



We launch AIM – our international market for growing companies.



SETS (Stock Exchange Electronic Trading Service) is launched to bring greater speed and efficiency to the market. The CREST settlement service is launched.



We transfer our role as UK Listing Authority with HM Treasury to the Financial Services Authority (FSA). Shareholders vote to become a public limited company: London Stock Exchange plc.



We list on our own Main Market in July. We begin our 200th anniversary celebrations.



We create EDX London, a new international equity derivatives business, in partnership with OM Group. We acquire Proquote Limited, a new generation supplier of real-time market data and trading systems.



We move to brand new headquarters in Paternoster Square, close to St Paul's Cathedral.

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