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Lloyd's Register

Lloyd's Register


Reference code(s): GB 2630

Held at: Lloyd's Register

Title: Lloyd's Register

Date(s): 1833 - 2003

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 1164 linear feet

Name of creator(s): Register Society | 1760-1834
Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping | 1834-1914
Lloyd's Register of Shipping | 1914-2003
Lloyd's Register | 2003-


Administrative/Biographical history:

Lloyds Register began in 1760, as a Register Society taking its name from it initial sphere of operation - Lloyd's Coffee House, Tower Street, London and the New Lloyd's Coffee House, at No 5 Pope's Head Alley, to which it moved in 1769. The Society was mainly controlled by underwriters, and had a Committee of eleven members chaired by John Julius Angerstein, to manage the affairs of the Society. (In 1771, the leading underwriters and brokers joined forces to establish Lloyd's of London - not to be confused with Lloyd's Register).

The first Register of Ships (the Green Book) was printed by the Society in 1764, in order to give underwriters and merchants an idea of the condition of vessels they insured and chartered. The Register contained details of the vessel's owner, master, tonnage, date of build, where built, and number of guns. It also gave a classification for condition of hull and equipment. The Society employed nautical men to undertake inspections of vessels. These inspectors were not necessarily experts in the field, and there were no clearly defined standards or rules for them to use. Over time practices developed whereby vessels could only hold the highest class for a limited period of time regardless of the quality of maintenance. This gradually led to the establishment of a rival register by the ship owners, in 1799 - The New Register Book of Shipping (also known as the Shipowners' Register or Red Book).

In the early 19th century, with both parties were on the verge of bankruptcy, and eventually agreed to joined forces. The Society was reconstituted in 1834 as the Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping. A General Committee was formed to take responsibility for running the Society and for the standardisation of rules regarding ship construction and maintenance. Their aim was to survey and classify both British ships and any foreign vessels calling at British ports.

The Register has recorded numerous developments in the history of shipping, including the first classification of a steamer, 1818, and of an iron vessel, 1837. The Rules for Iron Ships were first published in the 1855 Register.

Lloyd's Register gradually established a number of offices throughout Britain and the world. In 1851, Captain Thomas Menzies, a ship builder from Leith, posted as their surveyor to Quebec, and the St Lawrence River, 1851. In 1856, Samuel Pretious was sent to the Netherlands and Belgium as a surveyor, but later recalled due to lack of business, and it was not until 1868, that an office was again opened there. The next year the first surveyor, Joseph Tucker, was sent to Shanghai. Other surveyors established Lloyd's offices in Austria, Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Australia.

In 1890 a Technical Committee was formed under the guidance of Benjamin Martell, chief ship surveyor, 1872-1900. This Committee was responsible for recommending amendments to existing rules, and the adoption of new rules.

As the Register expanded, new premises were needed and the head office was moved to a new building in Fenchurch St in 1901, designed by Thomas Collcutt.

Lloyd's Register expanded into other fields during World War 1 when the French Government asked them to inspect steel that was to be used for armaments. This was followed by requests during the 1920s and 1930s, investigated cases of welding fractures in oil storage tanks in the Middle East. This was the beginning of what is today a large Energy and Transportation business stream. Following World War 1, the Register was approached by the Society of British Aircraft Constructors to undertake aircraft inspection. In 1930, the General Committee appointed an Aviation Committee and aviation surveyors. This work was eventually transferred to the Civil Aviation Authority.

During World War 2, the headquarters moved from London to Wokingham, with only a skeleton staff remaining in Fenchurch St. Their surveyors, which were classed as a reserved occupation, were involved in all sorts of projects, including secondment to the Admiralty, advising on construction of floating docks, and advising the army on refrigeration units for tanks to be used in the North Africa campaign. Following the end of the War, they were involved in many rebuilding projects, including the management and clearance of wrecks form harbours.

In 1986, moved into management system certification, and Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance (LRQA) was the first of its numerous quality and environmental systems certification programmes to gain accreditation.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Lloyd's Register comprising:

General Committee minutes, 1833-1969 (closed from 1939 onwards); Surveyors Committee reports and minutes 1838-1899; Visitation Committee reports and minutes, 1867-1875 (Visitation committee records for other years are part of the Surveyors Committee records);

Lloyd's Register list of officers, 1834-1950 (closed from 1939 onwards);

copy letter books, of John Cummings, surveyor of Greenock, 1834-1840;

copy letter book of Bernard Weymouth, Secretary to Lloyd's Register, c.1880s;

minutes of overseas committees, 1914-present (incomplete); surveyors technical papers, 1880s-present; personnel records, 1920-1960s (closed); some photographs 1970s-present, a number of glass plate negatives;

research papers [1914-1940s] of Sir Westcott Abell, (1877-1961) naval architect and surveyor, employed by Lloyd's Register, 1914-1928; and research papers [1930s-1970s] of Dr Simon Archer (1907-1997) employed by Lloyd's Register, 1936-1974.

Publications including:
Annual Reports, 1907-1998 (incomplete);

Register of Ships, 1764-present; Lloyd's Register of Yachts, 1878-1980; Lloyd's Register of Classed Yachts, 1981-2000; Lloyd's Register of American Yachts, 1904-1977; British Corporation Register 1893-1947; Underwriters' Register for Iron Vessels, 1862-1884; (World) Shipbuilding Returns 1888-present; Statistical Tables (World Fleet Statistics) 1878-present; and Casualty Returns, 1890-present.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

By appointment only. Contact the Archivist in writing in the first instance, with letter of reference. Senior Information Officer & Archivist, Lloyd's Register of Shipping, 71 Fenchurch St, London EC3m 4BS.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies available at the discretion of the Archivist, and subject to the condition of the original.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

The collection is partially catalogued. Database catalogues for both Archive and Library collections can be consulted on site.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Collected and held in situ.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Lloyd's Register also has a library collection, which includes the Augustine Creuze's library collection on naval architecture, established 1840s.

Surveyors report books Lloyd's Register of Shipping: Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire 1904-1958, held at the Cumbria Record Office and Local Studies Library, Barrow.

Publication note:

Annals of the Lloyd's Register, being a sketch of the origin, constitution and progress of Lloyds Register of British and Foreign Shipping, London 1874; Annals of Lloyd's Register, Centenary Edition, 1934; Lloyd's Register of shipping 1760-1960, George Blake, 1960.



Archivist's note: Sources: Historical Manuscripts Commission's On-Line National Register of Archives; 'Lloyd's Register Infosheets', No 16, Aug 2003, and No 31, Jun 2003; Dictionary of National Biography CD-ROM, Oxford University Press, 1995.
Compiled by Alison Field as part of the London Signpost Survey Project

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: November 2003

Maritime insurance | Insurance | Finance
Shipbuilding | Marine engineering | Transport engineering
Shipbuilding industry | Manufacturing industry | Industry
Ships | Vehicles | Transport

Personal names
Abell | Sir | Westcott | 1877-1961 | naval architect and surveyor
Archer | Simon | 1907-1997
Cummings | John | fl 1834-1840 | naval surveyor
Weymouth | Bernard | fl 1880s | Secretary to Lloyd's Register

Corporate names
Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping | 1834-1914
Lloyd's Register of Shipping | 1914-2003
Lloyd's Register | 2003-
Register Society | 1760-1834

London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe