The subject of a London Chamber was first discussed in early 1906, when a number of meetings regarding the arrangement of a Swedish exhibition, led to the establishment of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in London. The Certificate of Incorporation was granted by the Board of Trade and offices were hired at 136, Fenchurch Street. At the end of 1907 no less than 189 members had been elected.
The First World War
The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 saw new challenges for the Chamber. The Council continued to meet frequently despite the impediments to ordinary commercial activity which rather created an advantageous situation for the Chamber.
The Chamber also played a substantial role in the wartime work of a humanitarian and social work. An example of this is the founding and maintenance of the Swedish War Hospital and the creation of the Anglo-Swedish Travel Association.
The new and elegant building
As the Chamber’s activities expanded and as a result of a growing number of employees, the premises in Lloyd’s Avenue became increasingly overcrowded. The architect Mr Niven suggested that the Chamber should have a building of its own, a symbol for its growing importance. He produced a plan for a building facing Trinity Square on Tower Hill. Thanks to a number of generous donors, e.g. the Gothenburg ship owner Herbert Metcalfe, A. R. Bildt of Stockholm, Dan Broström, Gunnar Carlsson, I. Kreuger of the Swedish Match Company and Members of the Council it was possible to start on the building. The foundation stone was laid in June 1920 by Count Wrangel in the presence of Hjalmar Branting, the Swedish Prime Minister. A year later the building was completed and formally opened by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Sweden, later King Gustav VI Adolf.
Between the War Years
The economic slowdown in 1918-1939 saw decreasing memberships as it forced the traders to reduce their commitments.
The Second World War
During the Second World War the day-to-day work of the Secretariat was greatly reduced as bulk trade between Sweden and the UK abruptly ceased.
Furthermore the Council had to deal with various difficulties for its Members and others caused by harsh or arbitrary application of wartime trade regulations.
In 1970 the Chamber launched a series of major store promotions in London. It involved over 200 stores around Britain plus poster advertising in London underground stations and a Sweden issue of the Sunday Times Magazine. Furthermore the Chamber organised a major trade conference in Gothenburg. For some years, the Chamber also kept its own information office within the Swedish Export Association’s premises in Stockholm, staffed from London.
In 1972, industry, commerce and government in Sweden pooled their resources and interests and formed the Swedish Trade Council. As a result, the Chamber and the Swedish Government agreed to separate trade promotion and service to two individual companies.
The Chamber continued to promote Swedish export to the UK but now as a Trade Commissioner’s office. In 1978 the Chamber resolved to establish its own Secretariat. Later that same year Leif Forsberg was appointed new Director.
Following this regeneration of the Chamber its role has been reinforced. Membership climbed steadily throughout the 80s as the UK attracted many Swedish companies.
The 90s saw the end of the current upturn as recession hit both the member companies and the Chamber itself. There was also a noticeable change of interest in the Chamber’s events and it altered its programme accordingly.
The importance of the Chamber as a mentor
The Chamber’s important role as mentor to trainees and scholars was highlighted when the Crown Prince of Sweden, now our present King Carl XVI Gustaf, spent several months as a Chamber trainee in 1972.
The Chamber currently cares for an Anders Wall and an Investor scholar. The scholarship enables young graduates to spend a year working at the Secretariat.
A Century of Excellence 1906-2006
In 2006 our Chamber celebrated its centenary with a wide range of activities for our Members. It also saw the beginning of new Centenary projects aimed at furthering trade connections between Sweden and the UK by making the Chamber more efficient for its Members.
You can purchase “A Century of Excellence” by Pia Helena Ormerod. The book was produced for the Centenary celebrations and is a historic exposé of the Chamber’s work.
To order your copy, please contact the Chamber on tel: 020 7224 8001 or by e-mail to blackmorescc.org.uk. Price £49 (incl. postage).