How much gold is kept in the Bank of England?
Our gold vaults hold around 400,000 bars of gold, worth over £200 billion. That makes the Bank of England the second largest keeper of gold in the world (the New York Federal Reserve tops the list).
As this video explains, the vaults provide safe-keeping for the country’s gold reserves and for overseas central banks:
The Bank of England and gold
Below the Bank of England is one of the largest store of gold anywhere in the world. We look after more than 400,000 gold bars, worth billions of pounds.
The gold is kept in nine underground vaults and we guard it very carefully. Our customers are the UK Government, banks and other governments around the world.
Each gold bar costs hundreds of thousands of pounds. Their value can go up and down.
Our customers can trade their gold bars with other customers at the Bank. When a customer trades gold it usually doesn’t move, instead the name of the owner will change on our system.
Not many people are allowed to visit our vaults, however, the Queen and Prince Charles have had a look around.
Even though we look after lots of gold, we only own two bars. You can see them in our museum and if you’re feeling strong you can try to lift one.
Some interesting facts, did you know that an ounce of gold can be stretched a distance of over 50 miles? All of the gold mined so far in the world, would fill more than three Olympic sized swimming pools.
Can I get gold from the Bank of England today?
In the past you could exchange banknotes for the equivalent value in gold at the Bank of England, but this has not been possible since the early 1930s.
You can, however, hold a real gold bar in the Bank of England Museum.
Has any gold ever been stolen from the Bank of England?
No gold has ever been stolen from our vaults. However, there is a story that suggests that we had a lucky escape in Victorian times…
In 1836, the Directors of the Bank of England received anonymous letters. The writer claimed to have access to their gold, and offered to meet them in the gold vault at an hour of their choosing.
The Directors were finally persuaded to gather one night in the vault. At the agreed hour a noise was heard from beneath the floor and a man popped up through some of the floor boards.
The man was a sewerman who, during repair work, had discovered an old drain that ran immediately under the gold vault.
After the initial shock, a stock take revealed that he hadn’t taken any gold. For his honesty, the Bank of England rewarded him with a gift of £800. This would be worth about £90,000 in today’s money (see our inflation calculator).