Exchange Flags has been a centre for commerce in Liverpool for over 700 years. The Exchange Buildings occupy the site of two earlier Exchanges. The first was built in 1803-8 by John Foster Sen., possibly with James Wyatt, in the Neoclassical style. It was replaced in 1864-7 by a French Renaissance building by T H Wyatt.
The present building, designed by Gunton and Gunton, was adapted during the course of construction, with the creation of a bomb-proof bunker in the basement of Walker House (formerly Derby House) to house a military command headquarters. From this facility, which became known as the Western Approaches Command Headquarters, the campaign against the German submarine fleet in the Atlantic during World War II was planned and directed, under the command of Admiral Sir Max Horton who oversaw the Battle of the Atlantic, one of the pivotal campaigns of the war.