Up to the 12th century,
for those living and working in the City of London, Cheapside ('cheap' meaning market) was the major of two markets and the names of the streets that lead off it reflect the trades that flourished there – Wood Street, Milk Street, Bread Street, Honey Lane, Poultry and Friday Street (for fish).
By the 16th century
it was a hub of commerce and industry, a thriving port, the home of the nation’s major wholesale markets and the place from which professions, crafts and trades were regulated through the City’s ancient livery companies.
In the 17th century
, coffeehouses arrived in the City and these soon became the place to pick up news. Some houses became the makeshift offices of the trades they served, giving birth to some of the world’s greatest financial institutions – the London Stock Exchange started in Jonathan’s Coffeehouse in Change Alley and Lloyds of London takes its name from Edward Lloyd, the proprietor of a coffeehouse in Tower Street. This, coupled with the founding by Royal Charter of the Bank of England in 1694, was the catalyst for the development of the City as a financial centre.
, City residents number 9,200 (although this number is growing) and the City’s workforce has grown to 330,000.
What the City has been missing – bar a few exceptions – are the famous high street names – but all of that is changing…
The opening of the Millennium Bridge in 2000 radically changed how and when visitors - especially tourists - enter and leave the City. This has increased visitor numbers at the weekends in particular. Over 5,000 people cross the bridge each hour, travelling from the South Bank with its many draws (including the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe) to St. Paul’s Cathedral (which attracts over one and a half million visitors each year).
Visitors to Cheapside today would be forgiven for thinking that it looks a little like a building site. Work began in 2007 on increasing the retail space and is scheduled for completion by 2012. The development of the Cheapside area will see 12 new building schemes creating 167 new retail units, including One New Change.
As one of the largest consolidated retail spaces in central London with 220,000 sq ft of shops on three floors it is an ideal destination for a shopping trip and even has a large public roof terrace providing fresh and impressive views of St. Paul's Cathedral.
Information supplied by the City of London.
To find out more visit www.cityoflondon.gov.uk