Some facts from the Bank of England tour

Some interesting facts that I learned while getting a tour of the Bank of England yesterday:

  • They have approx £160bn of gold stored in their vaults
  • Not all of the gold is their own, they ‘house’ gold for other people
  • Each gold bar is worth approx £427,000
  • They are stacked in piles of 77 bars, each pile weighing roughly 1 ton (any more and they risk going through the floor)
  • The London Underground Central line runs directly underneath the vaults and you can feel them shake when a train goes past
  • The bank has never lost any of its gold to theives
  • The outer walls of the building (at street level) are between 8 and 11 foot thick
  • The building as it stands today was built between 1920 and 1939 (roughly) – amazing as it looks much, much older
  • The building was virtually all 1 level before 1920 when it was almost entirely re-built to house the 4,000 staff that worked there
  • Today there are around 1700 people working in the Threadneedle Street headquarters
  • The bank was founded by a Scotsman in 1694 making it the second oldest national bank (after the Swedish national bank)
  • Conversely, the bank of Scotland was founded by an Englishman just a year later!

And lastly, a supposedly true little story.

Some many years ago, a man was cleaning the sewers in the area, got lost, stumbled through an unlocked gate in the dark and ended up in the vaults! He promptly reported it to the governor who didn’t believe him, so he asked the governor to meet him in the vaults in 5 minutes. He went outside, down the sewers and greeted the bank and all its directors in the vault. He didn’t steal a thing and was given a reward of £800 (roughly £75k today) for reporting it.

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