The cheques timeline

1659    Date of the earliest known surviving English cheque
1694    Court of the Bank of England meets for the first time
1704    The first Act defining the status of bills of exchange and promissory notes in law
1706    Act providing for Bills of Exchange to have two counterfoils
1717    Bank of England introduce printed cheques
1759    Earliest known surviving cheque on a printed form drawn on Vere Glyn & Hallifax
1768    Boldero Carter Barnston & Snaith issue coloured cheques
1770    Daily cheque clearings formalised among private London bankers when clerks met at the Five Bells, a tavern in Lombard Street in the City of London
1773    Cheque exchange established by hiring a separate room at the Five Bells
1782    First act to impose a tax on all cheques made out “to order”
1805    Clearing of items drawn within London moved to the offices of Messrs Smith, Payne & Smith in Lombard Street
1811    Earliest known personalised cheque drawn by John Thom on the Commercial Bank of Scotland
1821    Committee of bankers formed to regulate clearings in London
1833    First Bankers Clearing House built in Lombard Street, London
1854    Settlement in cash replaced by settlement across accounts held at the Bank of England using cheques drawn on the Bank
1858    Country clearing established; 1d stamp duty applicable to all cheques
1865    Edinburgh clearing house opened
1882    Bills of Exchange Act
1907    Metropolitan clearing established
1918    Stamp duty on cheques doubled from 1d to 2d
1939    Clearing transferred to Stoke-on-Trent during World War II
1939    During WWII, cheques were photographed, for the first time, using Recordak microfilm apparatus (made by Eastman Kodak), allowing duplicates to be printed for back office processes
1946    Clearing transferred back to Lombard Street, London
1957    Cheques Act published
1960    First cheque MICR reader/sorter demonstrated to Committee of London Clearing Bankers
1961    Credit clearing established
1962    First cheque MICR reader/sorter system in Europe opened at the Westminster Bank, Lothbury Head Office
1965    First cheque card issued by National Provincial Bank allowing cheques to be cashed at its branches up to the value of £20 per day
1966    First cheque cards issued guaranteeing encashment of cheques and payment by cheque for goods and services up to a value of £30 per cheque
1969    UK Domestic Cheque Guarantee Card Scheme introduced
1971    Stamp duty on cheques abolished
1974    Clearing processes exempted from three-day week restrictions (imposed by the state of emergency during the coal miners’ strike)
1977    £50 cheque guarantee card limit introduced
1985    Cheque and Credit Clearing Company (C&CCC) established 
1989    £100 and £250 cheque guarantee card limits introduced
1990    Peak year for cheque volumes
1990    William Shakespeare image (logo/hologram) appeared on all cheque guarantee cards
1992    Cheques Act and Account Payee crossing regulations
1994    London Exchange Centre moved from Lombard Street to Goodman’s Fields in the East End of London
1995    Introduction of the Cheque Printer Accreditation Scheme (CPAS)
1995    Town clearing closed
1995    Lloyds Bank introduced left-handed chequebooks
1996    Deregulation (Bills of Exchange) Order to enable presentation of cheques for payment by electronic notification of the information in the code line rather than by physical presentment.
1996    The C&CCC implements the Inter-Bank Data Exchange (IBDE) network for the exchange of cheque data – the first network in Great Britain for the exchange of bulk clearing data between the major high street banks and building societies. 
1996    Scottish cheque clearing with Scottish Exchange came under the responsibility of the C&CCC
1998    IBDE extended to banks in Scotland
1999    British euro cheque clearing system established by the C&CCC
2003    London Exchange moved to the Midlands from London and was renamed the English Exchange
2006    Office of Fair Trading report requiring certainty-of-fate on cheques
2007    Belfast Bankers’ Clearing Company established. 
2007    Payments Council set up
2007    2-4-6 cheque clearing timescales introduced by the C&CCC across the UK, giving customers certainty on cheque funds for the very first time
2008     Bank of England approves the Cheque Clearing System and the Credit Clearing System as designated systems under the Financial Markets and Insolvency (Settlement Finality) Regulations 1999. 
2009    All IBDE cheque data files encrypted
2009    C&CCC celebrates 350th anniversary of the earliest known surviving English cheque
2009    Target date of 2018 set by the Payments Council for closure of central cheque clearing system
2010    Management of the currency clearings became the responsibility of the C&CCC
2011    Closure of the UK Domestic Cheque Guarantee Card Scheme
2011    The Payments Council abandons plans to close the cheque clearing system in 2018 and announces that cheques will continue for as long as customers need them
2013    Cheque Redirection Service introduced by the C&CCC as part of the new Current Account Switch Service (CASS)

2013    In December, the C&CCC Board gave the go-ahead for the development of an image-based method of clearing cheques
2014    HM Treasury held consultation on speeding up cheque payments by legislating for cheque imaging and draft legislation enabling a move to imaging published
2015    The payment systems managed by the C&CCC became regulated by the Payment Systems Regulator as of 1st April
2015    The C&CCC commences the work to design and build the infrastructure so that the Image Clearing System can be introduced
2016    Legislative change in Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill enables the introduction of cheque imaging
2017    July - The currency clearing, which processed cheques drawn on UK banks, ceased operation
2017    30th October - The Image Clearing System went live, with banks and building societies implementing their rollouts on an individual, phased basis
2019    Rollout of the Image Clearing System is continuing – banks and building societies are working towards clearing all cheques to a faster timescale via the new system