Don’t be fooled by the title of Iain Martin’s book. He gives you a lot more than just a view of the Big Bang of 1986, which arguably helped transform the City of London into a truly global financial centre. He also provides a good historical perspective on the City’s origins and evolution and of the innovators, rascals and adventurers who made and lost fortunes and helped to shape what we have today. And his book confirmed to me that the City is a financial centre like no other.
Every corner of the Square Mile tells a story. When I got my first banking job fresh out of university, I worked at Bishopsgate, where Thomas Gresham, the 16th-century City innovator, had his London house. It was Gresham who, in 1571, persuaded Queen Elizabeth I to attend the opening