What happened to the old Baltic Exchange?
On 10 April 1992 an IRA bomb consisting of
100 pounds of Semtex wrapped in a ton of fertiliser exploded in a van parked outside
the Baltic Exchange, then at 30 St Mary Axe.
Three people died, including Baltic attendant
Tom Casey, and many more were injured
as the bomb ripped through the Baltic,
destroying offices of major companies in the building and rendering the trading floor
unusable. By Monday morning, the Baltic was installed in Lloyd's of London and, by Wednesday, a trading floor was open.
The Baltic Exchange was unable to redevelop 30 St Mary Axe incorporating the
historical elements as required by English Heritage and the site was sold to
Trafalgar House in 1995. Most of the remaining structures on the site were then
carefully dismantled whilst the interior of Exchange Hall and the facade were
preserved and sealed from the elements.
Later assessment by English Heritage determined that the damage was far more severe
than had previously been thought, and they dropped their insistence on restoration; a decision that led to much controversy. The Swiss Re tower, also widely known as the Gherkin, now stands on the site of the old Baltic Exchange.
One of the key features of the old Baltic Exchange was its memorial dome, constructed shortly after the First World War to commemorate the 60 Baltic members who lost their
lives during the war. Designed by the artist Job Forsyth, it consisted of a half-dome and
five large windows, which were installed over a staircase to the lower floor. The subject is heroic and likens the British Empire to the Roman Empire.
The IRA bombing of 1992 extensively damaged the dome and windows. Of the 240
panels in the dome, only 45 remained completely intact and the windows below were extensively damaged. As much glass as possible was painstakingly salvaged from the wreckage and passed to the glass conservators Goddard & Gibbs who, over a ten year period, restored the stained glass to its former glory. The windows are now housed at
the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and are on display to the public.
The salvaged material from the Baltic Exchange was sold to a range of buyers, with
much of it shipped to Estonia for the construction of an office complex.