Our History

Our History

In 1785, the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce was founded when leading Edinburgh business men met in the New Church Aisle of St Giles.

Within two months of the formation of the Chamber of Commerce, these far-sighted businessmen decided to give the organisation a firmer foundation by applying for a Royal Charter on 15 February 1786. On 10 July 1786, this was duly granted by King George III and is still displayed in the George Street office today.

One of the first matters to which Edinburgh Chamber gave attention, was the improvement of the Lighthouse on May Island. A committee was formed to look into the matter and visit the island during 1786. A lighthouse keeper was appointed at a salary of £7 per annum. However, the drinks bill for the celebration is listed in the Chamber accounts as over £12!

The vision and aims behind the chamber remain as relevant in the 21st century as they were in the 18th, when Scotland’s capital was a powerhouse during the golden period of cultural, scientific and social enlightenment.

The challenges the Chamber face today may not be those faced by men like Banker Sir William Forbes our first chairman or bookseller William Creech the chambers first secretary and publisher to Robert Burns, but the aims remain intact, to promote the interest of trade, business, commerce, shipping and manufactures in Edinburgh.

We aim to lead innovation, share the best practice, inform and support our member businesses whose efforts are so important to the wellbeing of our city.

Throughout our long and distinguished history the chamber has been at the fore of innovation. We instigated the firing of the 1 o’clock gun at Edinburgh Castle to keep shipping in Leith informed of accurate time. We inspired the first ever date stamped mail, and were responsible for influencing the first ever business degree at Edinburgh University.