On Thursday 20th May 2021, the bronze statue of a LIFFE Trader returned to Dowgate Hill opposite Cannon Bridge House
The ceremony was well attended with a welcome from Alderman Alison Gowman and unveiling of the statue by Lord Mayor Alderman William Russell
Welcome from Alderman Alison Gowman
My Lord Mayor
Welcome to the Lord Mayor (LMS?) Sheriffs Dowgate Members and businesses Deputy Chair of Streets and Walkways and Members
Good to celebrate today reopening of the City here in Dowgate and the unveiling of this statue newly placed here in its rightful home in Dowgate Hill. The statue marks a period of tremendous change in the history of the financial City as the establishment of the LIFFE market sparked by the Government abolishing exchange control, was a prelude to Big Bang and a growing financial powerhouse here in the City.
The LIFFE market was housed first in the Royal Exchange and it moved to this new building at Cannon Bridge House in 1991. As a solicitor, I acted for many of the traders and in fact acted on the first purchase of a seat on the new Exchange.
The traders were highly visible on the streets with their bright jackets, their loud swagger and occasional drunken aggression. Famously on June 18 1999 the Carnival against Capital protest zoned into this area and the wide street made it a perfect spot to carnival sing and dance as I recall. A hit squad were intent to scale the fortress of capitalism. Egged on by traders staring down and waving wads of £50 notes a small group broke into Cannon Bridge House. They were initially frustrated as the quick-witted security guards immediately reversed the double banks of escalators but they did penetrate the building and cause much havoc in the building and around the Ward.
Life is a lot quieter now in Dowgate but only because the work is universally online. The buildings are usually well occupied and there is no shortage of drinkers at the Pelt Trader opposite evoking again a buzz of excitement in our frenetic City. Our LIFFE trader will not feel too lonely here on the Hill.
The Lord Mayor
Alderman Gowman, Deputy Chair, ladies and gentlemen.
I am delighted to join you all today in unveiling Stephen Melton’s L-I-F-F-E Futures Trader in his new residence here in Dowgate Hill.
For the past seven years this incredibly lifelike sculpture has been welcoming visitors to the Guildhall’s West Wing Ambulatory.
The Guildhall, however, was not his first home. Our friend here started his life back in 1997 at the south-west corner of Walbrook – just a stone’s throw from where we currently stand.
Unusually for a sculpture, he was not mounted on a plinth, but instead was positioned to be striding proudly, one imagines having just emerged from Bank Station, on his way to the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange, which was based at Cannon Hill House until November 2002.
It was in 2011 when work began on the Bloomberg Walbrook Square Development that a new temporary residence at the Guildhall was found for him some years later.
This has been a wonderful week, full of fun, celebrations and activities as we mark the lifting of further restrictions and the continued reopening of our city. On Monday, I had the rare pleasure of driving a dray, and delivering a barrel of beer to the Old Doctor Butlers Head. This is just one of many events that I, along with the Sheriffs, fellow Aldermen and Common Councilmen, have been part of to welcome businesses and people back to the City. As much fun as it was, it convinced me that I may be better equipped to support the City’s hospitality industry from the other side of the bar. This is a role I am, reluctantly but selflessly, ready to embrace.
Turning again to our friend, It is fitting that in the same week that so many people return to their businesses and places of work, and cultural centres like the Museum of London reopen, that this statue also returns to public display. As a former investment banker myself, I recognise his stance, phone glued to the ear, eager intent, and a desire to make a deal. In this regard he embodies the energy, charisma and entrepreneurship that makes the City what it is.
It therefore gives me great pleasure to unveil the L-I-F-F-E Futures Trader Statue.