Historical Timeline of Brown Shipley
If this brief timeline motivates you to find out more about Brown Shipley’s rich history (or indeed the history of businesses acquired by Brown Shipley), please email our Marketing team .
1800 - Alexander Brown sets up business
Irish merchant Alexander Brown sets up business in Baltimore, USA, importing Irish linen and exporting cotton and tobacco back to Britain. In 1810, his eldest son establishes the business in Liverpool under the name William Brown & Co.
Brown Brother's ship in Baltimore Harbour c. 1800
1825 - Joseph Shipley joins William Brown
In 1825, William Brown is joined by a partner, Joseph Shipley. The business finances merchants shipping goods between Britain, the United States and many other parts of Europe and the Americas. They are early pioneers of payment through 'Letters of Credit'. The partners' reputation for honesty, integrity and reliability is second to none.
The four sons of Alexander Brown
1837 - The firm’s transactions reach £10m a year
The firm's transactions reach £10 million a year, big business by the standards of the time. In 1837, a money-market crisis forces Brown Shipley to turn to the Bank of England for temporary financial support. The partners prove their worth by repaying every penny. That same year, the British partners change their name to Brown Shipley & Co.
Bank of England in Threadneedle Street
1848 - Partners’ success continues
The partners maintain their shipping interests with their own ships and warehouses. They even invest in a new American steamship enterprise, the Collins Line, set up to compete with Cunard. The partners prosper on both sides of the Atlantic, weathering recession in 1848, when many merchants fail, and another financial crisis in 1857.
The 'Atlantic', a steamer belonging to the Collins Line established in the mid 1800s
1860 - Civil War puts a strain on trans-Atlantic relations
The American Civil War puts a strain on the trans-Atlantic partners' relationships, because of the threat of war between the two countries. When it is over Brown Shipley's trading activities are in decline, but their merchant banking activities rapidly expand. Sir William Brown comes to civic prominence, appointed High Sheriff of Liverpool, Member of Parliament for South Lancashire and a leading campaigner for free trade, the Penny Post and even decimal coinage.
The William Brown library & Museum in Liverpool
1863 - Business moves to London
In 1863, a London office opens at Founders Court, Lothbury. Within 25 years the Liverpool office is closed. Business continues to prosper, now focused largely on Acceptance Credits, foreign exchange business and deposit banking. In 1887, a Brown Shipley partner, Sir Mark Collet is appointed Governor of the Bank of England.
Founders Court entrance, just off Lothbury, has remained relatively unchanged since 1863.
1900 - Pall Mall office services American travellers
The partners open a branch office at 123 Pall Mall in London's West End to handle the increasing number of American travellers using the firm's Letters of Credit. In one year they handle as many as 350,000. But the outbreak of war in 1914 affects both this business and the firm's trade finance.
Legends on a container used for Letters of Credit
1918 - Partnership with Brown Brothers & Co ends
In 1918 the partnership between Brown Shipley and its American partners Brown Brothers & Co is finally ended, although each continues to act as agents for the other for some time. The London Foreign Exchange Market is enlarged and Brown Shipley secures a prominent place. The firm builds up substantial business in the wool, timber and fur trades.
Brown Brothers Bank, Baltimore, c. 1918
1920 - Lord Norman becomes Governor of the Bank of England
Lord Norman was the Grandson of Sir Mark Collett (see 1863). He joined Brown Shipley in 1894, and was admitted to the partnership in 1900. Quickly rising through the City ranks, Lord Norman became a Director of the Bank of England in 1907, Deputy Governor in 1917 and Governor in 1920. In 1931 the United Kingdom permanently abandoned the gold standard. He remains the longest serving Governor, retiring in 1944. Lord Norman died in 1950.
1945 - World War 2 limits business
After weathering the Great Depression of the 1930s, Brown Shipley survives World War 2 on its routine business, as both foreign exchange and commercial credits come under wartime restriction.
VE Day, London, 1945
1946 - Brown Shipley becomes a limited company
In 1946 Brown Shipley makes the transition to incorporation as a limited company. By 1957, the firm is a leading member of the Acceptance Houses Association, with a prominent role in the London Money Market. The firm also develops an 'Investment Advisory Service'.
Offices at Founders Court, c. 1950
1959 - New Opportunities
The 1959 Radcliffe Report describes Investment Advisory Service as 'something in which Acceptance Houses specialise to a far greater extent than other financial institutions'. Thus the firm's mercantile history and expertise in evaluating business deals and the people behind them finds a new outlet.
Old Entrance Hall, Founders Court
1975 - Edward Heath opens the newly built offices of Brown Shipley
Edward Heath was British Prime Minister from 1970-1974. As a management trainee and Head of Credit, he worked at Brown Shipley from 1948 until he won the seat for Bexley in Feb 1950 with a majority of 133. Edward Heath retained close connections with Brown Shipley right up until his death on 17 July 2005.
Edward Heath alongside the Governor of the Bank of England Gordon Richardson opening Founders Court in 1975.
1992 - Acquisitions
Brown Shipley & Co Ltd is acquired by European bank KBL and joins its group of Private Bankers. Brown Shipley subsequently makes its own acquisitions of stockbroker Cawood Smithie, private-client investment manager Henry Cooke, and pensions and investment manager Fairmount Group plc.
Moorgate entrance of Brown Shipley’s offices with the Bank of England in view.
2010 - Brown Shipley celebrates its bicentenary
Brown Shipley was founded in 1810. We are proud of our 200 year heritage and couple our traditional values of service, relationships and trust with a modern vision.
1810 - 2010 Bicentenary of Brown Shipley
2012 - The Olympic Games come to London
It’s Olympic year in UK and Brown Shipley offices have taken on a thoroughly modern look over the previous 18 months. New premises in Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmingham complement the newly refurbished Founders Court reception and client areas.
Hardman Street, Manchester – Clients have a perfect view from 8th Floor