The small hills on the north side of the Thames that make up most of the Square Mile have been a prime location for trade since before Roman times and it is a continuous connection with trading and international commerce that lies at the heart of the City of London’s success. The City of London Corporation, as the world’s oldest continuously elected local government, has always tried to foster trade and commerce and its own longevity and stability and has meant it also has come to look after a great deal of national heritage. From major facilities such Tower Bridge, the Museum of London, and the London Metropolitan Archives, to many smaller monuments, the City of London Corporation makes sure that important historic resources continue to serve the widest public.
Indeed, along with supporting the financial services industry and the provision of London open spaces visited by 24 million people a year, heritage is one of the City of London Corporation’s key roles. Two factors have, in recent decades, helped: the tradition of electing Members as independent of political parties has meant that the underpinning policies have remained very stable, which has helped the heritage sites and facilities thrive in a relatively stable environment, and London’s position of global prominence as a financial centre has helped keep the City of London Corporation financially healthy – although cut-backs have been made in the last three years. See budgets and spending for details on how the City of London Corporation supports heritage, including £25m a year on Libraries, Archives and the Museum of London.
Furthermore, the City of London Corporation has always maintained a large number of committees which means that its elected Members have collectively developed a wide and deep knowledge base, especially about issues relating to heritage. Finally, the City of London Corporation’s detailed and consistent planning for the physical environment of the Square Mile has enabled it to factor in heritage issues over many years, something most notably evident in its new strategy for visitors.
Watch 'Ticking through Time', a short film on the City's history