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.