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During our 325 year history, Barclays has only had two head offices – 54 Lombard Street in the City of London and 1 Churchill Place in Canary Wharf – the UK’s two main financial districts. 

VIDEO: History of Barclays' head office (04:33)

Where Barclays began

In 1318, Italian financiers from Lombardy were granted a large plot of land in central London to establish gold and silversmithing shops. It was here that many goldsmiths' trade developed into early banking practices.

Barclays’ first connection to the area can be traced back to 1690, shortly after the Great Fire of London when two Quakers called John Freame and Thomas Gould set up a goldsmith trading shop. In 1728, they moved their shop to the sign of the Black Eagle, which later came to be numbered as 54 Lombard Street. Signs were then used to identify buildings as the majority of the population could not read. The Barclay name entered the business in 1736 when James Barclay, who had married one of John Freame's daughters, was brought into the partnership.

The bank expanded considerably over the course of the next 200 years. By 1920, Barclays' head office covered numbers 42-58 Lombard Street, and just over 10 years later, the site spread across Lombard Street, Gracechurch Street, George Yard and Ball Alley.

Further expansion work was to begin in 1939; however the outbreak of war delayed construction. Indeed, it was not until 1956 that work recommenced on the building. Once completed, the office covered nearly an acre and provided a floor area of 400,000sq ft.

By 1990, the building had become unsuitable for the changing needs of the organisation and was subsequently demolished. During the rebuild, all head office staff worked in multiple temporary premises all around London before returning in 1994.   

The refurbished offices in Lombard Street received a largely negative response and, at the turn of the millennium, Barclays decided it was time for a complete change. Around the same time, Canary Wharf was establishing itself as a new business district and financial hub and in 2001, Barclays announced that it would leave Lombard Street after 315 years.

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Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf has a long association with trade and business. It is located on the West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs which, from 1802 to 1939, was one of the busiest docks in the world, ferrying supplies and trade in and out of the United Kingdom to the rest of the world. With the rise of shipping containers in the 1960s and the decline of port industries around the world, the docks were officially closed in 1980 after many years of neglect.

In an attempt to stimulate growth for the UK economy, the government adopted a number of policies in the late 1980s aimed at redeveloping the docklands area. The London Docklands Development Corporation was granted permission to develop the area in the early 1980s and were not subject to the same planning permissions that other areas in London were. This meant there would be total freedom to build buildings to any size or scope.

While the project was considered to be very risky, construction on the first building, One Canada Square, began in 1988 and was completed in 1991. One Canada Square is the only building in the area to be constructed on dry land, with the rest of Canary Wharf built on wholly or partially reclaimed land. When Barclays signed the deal to move to Canary Wharf in 2001, they were the first British bank to do so – this was considered a major coup for the area.

Today, Canary Wharf Estate boasts more than 97 acres of land and comprises 37 office buildings, 300 shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. Its working population of 112,000 people is set to double to more than 200,000 when Crossrail opens in 2017. 

Barclays celebrates 10 years in Canary Wharf10 years in Canary Wharf Learn more about our history in our archivesLearn more about our history in our archives (new window)
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