History

by Jenny Stewart

Liverpool Chamber of Commerce was originally formed in 1774 as one of the first chambers of commerce in the world, and the earliest in a major mainland UK port.

The chamber was formed to provide a voice for the local business community, to guide and debate issues of the day and to influence and lobby government policy.

 

This first chamber burned briefly but brightly during the final decades of the eighteenth century before the formation of an American Chamber of Commerce in Liverpool and the later reformation of the ‘modern’ Liverpool chamber of commerce in 1850 which today continues to offer a wide-ranging and complex bundle of services to its members and to the local community.

 

The business has evolved during the previous 238 years and now helps support individual businesses with information, training and advice; offers networks of opportunity through meetings between groups of businesses; and links the business community to the wider economy.

    Learn about the Chamber's beginnings in 'The Voice of Liverpool Business - The First Chamber of Commerce and the Atlantic Economy'

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    Timeline of Liverpool Chamber History

    1774 – A group of local merchants, unhappy with the Liverpool Corporation’s excessive dock fees and levies, drafted the articles for the formation of a Chamber of Commerce in the town of Liverpool. Driven by Liverpool’s profitable trade with North America, the Chamber’s aim was to provide a voice for the local business community, guiding and debating issues of the day, and influencing and lobbying government policy.

     

    1774-96 – The Chamber of Commerce subscribers initiate several lobbies to government on various legislative issues. Records indicate it continues to operate until approximately 1796 when it appears to cease activity.

     

    1802 – The American Chamber of Commerce in Liverpool is created which, although a separate entity, involves many figures from the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and continues to operate until 1907.

     

    1850 – The ‘modern’ Liverpool Chamber of Commerce is formed by a group of local merchants led by Leone Levi. There are 345 initial subscribers who agree “to meet and act for the common good” in pursuit of the Chamber’s remit “to benefit and protect the trade and commerce of Liverpool”

     

    1856 – The Chamber is commissioned by the UK government to undertake statistical work on import figures; the first chamber to be commissioned in such a way.

     

    1858 – The Mersey Docks & Harbour Board is formed to oversee the operations of the Liverpool waterfront and docklands. The majority of board members on the MDHB are also Chamber members.

     

    1874 – Liverpool Chamber of Commerce & Industry is officially incorporated as a company limited by guarantee.

     

    1882 – The Chamber forms its own Cotton Trade Section, the first such sector committee in existence in the chamber movement. By the subsequent decade, the Chamber has 23 such committees.

     

    1901 – Liverpool Chamber of Commerce joins the Association of British Chambers of Commerce

     

    1901 – Liverpool Chamber launches a monthly trade journal which becomes the principal method of communication with members for the next sixty years (archives available via Liverpool Records Office)

     

    1907 - 1911 - Changes in British working practices during this period included the introduction of old age pensions, National Health Insurance and Labour Exchanges. The Chamber carried out a census of production, as well as proposing Workmen's Compensation and profit sharing schemes. It also lobbied for the provision of factory sites to fill a gap in Liverpool's economy.

     

    1912 - The Chamber negotiated an improvement in telephone services. This resulted in the nationalisation of Britain's telephone networks.

     

    1914-1918 - First World War. The Chamber undertook a recruitment campaign known as the Chamber of Commerce Scheme. This led directly to the national call-up system.

     

    1920 - The International Chamber of Commerce was founded.

     

    1924 - The Carriage of Goods by Sea Act was passed. This was the culmination of much effort by the Chamber's Commercial Law Society.

     

    1936 - The Chamber moved from Exchange Buildings to its present site in Old Hall Street.

     

    1939 - 1945 - Second World War. The Chamber was involved with air raid precautions, national defence, black-out tests and conscription. It also addressed the increasing problems of maintaining trade and commerce in a city as heavily bombed as Liverpool. Immediately after the war, issues like war damage payments, employment policies and rebuilding the city and docks were tackled.

     

    1950 - The Chamber's centenary was celebrated with a reception at Liverpool Town Hall and a service at Liverpool Cathedral.

     

    1961 - The Waterfront Commission was created. This covered the interests of traders associated with the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board, Ship Owners, Master Porters and other port organisations.

     

    1966 - First Chamber Overseas Trade Mission, to the Middle East.

     

    1967 - Second Overseas Trade Mission, to East and Central Africa. Regular missions all around the world have since taken place, resulting in considerable export businesses for participants.

     

    1972 - The Chamber introduced a computerised payroll service for its members. In the same year it changed its name to Merseyside Chamber of Commerce, anticipating the 1974 formation of Merseyside County Council.

     

    Late 1970s to mid 1980s - Despite a declining local population and reduced business base, the Chamber continued to promote trade and regeneration within the city.

     

    1986 – Trident Training Ltd (Today known as Liverpool Chamber Training) is launched to deliver accredited training courses to local companies and offer an apprenticeship service to young people and employers.

     

    1992 - The Chamber reverted to its original title of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. This was a recognition of Liverpool's international reputation and the mainly UK significance of 'Merseyside'.

     

    1997 - Liverpool Chamber was elected to the Network of Approved Chambers of Commerce, part of the British Chambers of Commerce. This organisation pools the resources of accredited chambers around the country to improve and expand services on offer to members.

     

    1999 – The Chamber plays a key role in the civic twinning of the cities of Shanghai and Liverpool

     

    2000 - Infopool, the information gateway for business support and advice opened at 8 Chapel Street in the city centre. The Chamber also celebrated its 150th year.

     

    2001 to 2007 - Launch of a number of key business services, including Chamber Utilities, Chamber Healthcare, Chamber4Learning and Chamber Tender Alert helped secure a healthy membership and an increasingly large chamber delivering many funded programmes in international trade, training and business crime reduction.

     

    2007-2008 - The Chamber played a full part in the city's 800th birthday celebrations and the Capital of Culture festivities.

     

    2008 – Liverpool hosts the British Chambers of Commerce Annual Conference at the newly opened Arena & Convention Centre Liverpool

     

    2009 – The Chamber leads on the city’s ‘Year of the Environment’

     

    2010 – Liverpool Chamber changes its legal status to become a Community Interest Company with a dedicated mission statement to provide development, growth and sustained economic viability to chamber members and to the business community within Liverpool and throughout Liverpool City Region.

     

    2011 – The Chambers holds its most successful ever Annual Dinner attracting an audience of 600 guests at the Anglican Cathedral

     

    2012 – Liverpool Chamber of Commerce C.I.C. members elect John Sutcliffe as Chair, Vincent Owen as Vice-Chair and Dougal Paver as Deputy Vice-Chair.

     

    2013 - The Chamber acquires the liquidated Sefton Chamber of Commerce and becomes a combined Chamber with representation of both Liverpool and Sefton areas. Jenny Stewart is appointed Chief Executive of both Chambers.

     

    2014 - The Chamber welcomes more than 30 country representatives and 350 guests to the 'Meet your Chamber Global Network' conference and gala dinner as part of the inaugural International Festival for Business hosted in Liverpool. The success of the conference is a key reason for the Chambers' shortlisting for a Britush Chambers of Commerce Annual Award for Excellence in International Trade

    The Chamber also launches the Spark Up business accelerator programme, putting 15 entrepreneurs through 5 months of workshops, seminars and mentoring. The pilot culminates in a pitching competition at the Annual Dinner and the commissioning of a second cohort which launches in 201 with 30 entrepreneurs on project.

    The Chamber's apprenticeship arm, Liverpool Chamber Training, receives a Grade 2 OFSTED grading and creates more than 250 apprenticeship jobs in the city.

    Training

    From Apprenticeships to Professional Development; Vocational Training in ICT and Business Administration skills, Liverpool Chamber Training can help you get the skills and staff you need