A look at the competition…

The banking logos and coats of arms on display in the 1960s are very different from those still scattered about our High Streets in the Twenty-First Century. At the time of the introduction of Credit Transfers in 1962, ELEVEN banks operate the UK banking clearing system, and come together to decide upon how Credit Transfers are going to work.  This brief period of co-operation is an exception to the rule – the otherwise “secretive world” of the Clearing Banks, each of whom is trying their best to attract through their doors, the business of the newly waged, the student, the investor and even the child who saves his or her pennies. This is also a technologically creative time for our banks – the rush to be FIRST with a new gimmick is intense, and determined to show that the world does NOT revolve around “swinging London”, Liverpool based Martins shows it is quick to respond.

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

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The result is a hotchpotch of computers, cash machines, drive-in or mobile banks, but it is all a good testing ground for the future.  That no bank could predict the demise within fifty years of the High Street Branch is not surprising at a time when more and more branches were being opened, and existing ones rebuilt or extended. This is also that strange point in technology history when computerisation actually results in MORE, rather than fewer staff.  A gentlemens agreement between the clearing banks is responsible for keeping every one of them off our television screens for most of the 1960s, with an individual bank’s advertising restricted to newspapers and magazines, and joint initiatives such as recruitment to the banking industry being allowed as cinema advertisements or short films available to schools and colleges. Even a mid-sixties TV ad “The Bank Manager” is a jointly produced affair with no individual bank featured or named.  In this feature, we take a look at the ten clearing Banks in competition with Martins Bank in the 1960s, by looking at their history, their Branches, and at what happened to many of them in the great banking reshuffles of 1969/1970. 


Main text, logo and branch images reproduced by kind permission of Barclays Group Archives

Click on the Barclays logo to read much more about the history of Barclays

and its constituent Banks at Barclays Group Archives…



Barclays Logo

Barclays traces its ancestry back to two goldsmith bankers, John Freame and Thomas Gould, who were doing business in Lombard Street, London in 1690. In 1736, Freame's son, Joseph took his brother-in-law, James Barclay on as a partner, and the name has remained a constant presence in the business ever since. By the end of the nineteenth century, small private family banks, such as that in which the Barclays were involved, were increasingly unable to compete with the larger joint stock banks. In 1896, 20 small private family banks joined together to form a new bank: Barclay and Company Limited. The histories of the 19 other banks involved in the 1896 amalgamation were varied. Only one, Goslings and Sharpe of Fleet Street, was based in London, the rest being country bankers, who had originally offered banking services to their business acquaintances as a sideline to a more established trade. Many of the 20 banks had been established by families who were members of the Society of Friends (also known as Quakers). As a result, a strong network of business links already existed between many of the banks, which was further strengthened by numerous marriages between various members of the families. Their Quakerism also helped to contribute towards the success of their banks, as Quakers were renowned for their sobriety and trustworthiness, making them ideal bankers.

The businesses from which the country banks grew included brewing, iron trading, shipping and shop-keeping, but by far the most common route to a successful country bank was via the textile industry. The Gurneys, who had founded their first bank in Norwich in 1775, had originally been woollen merchants. By 1896, their banks were spread across East Anglia and accounted for eight of the twenty that took part in the amalgamation. Similarly, the Backhouses of Darlington established their bank in 1774 on wealth accumulated in linen manufacturing. It was the Gurneys and the Backhouses, together with the Barclays, who formed the driving force behind the amalgamation. The bank created as a result of the 1896 amalgamation had 182 branches and 806 staff. However, the majority of the branches were located in the South East of England, and 192 of the staff were based at 54 Lombard Street (the old Barclay partnership bank), so Barclay and Company could not yet make any claims to be a nationwide bank. The next 20 years saw them remedy that through a series of further amalgamations and takeovers. By 1920, when the Treasury barred any further amalgamations between the larger banks, Barclays Bank Limited (it changed its name in 1917) was ranked third amongst Britain's 'Big Five' banks.

Barclays' ambitions, however, lay beyond the shores of Great Britain. Under the chairmanship of Frederick Craufurd Goodenough, Barclays gained control of the Colonial Bank, with branches in the Caribbean and West Africa; the Anglo-Egyptian Bank, with branches in Palestine, Egypt, Malta and Cyprus; and the National Bank of South Africa. In 1925 Goodenough merged the three together to form a new bank - Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas), to become known as Barclays Bank DCO, and later Barclays Bank International. At home, the domestic bank continued to grow and change.


The two world wars saw women working in banks in significant numbers for the first time. Their employment continued to increase throughout the 1950s, until, by 1962, Barclays employed more women than men. Increased mechanisation and technology also meant changes to the way in which the Bank operated, and to the appearance of the branches. Additionally, new and improved services, and increasing competition for new customers meant that banks started to advertise on a large scale for the first time. Barclays also continued to grow, with the acquisition of Martins Bank in 1968.  Martins was itself the result of a 1918 amalgamation between Martins Bank of London, which traced its history back to the sixteenth century banker Sir Thomas Gresham, and the Bank of Liverpool, which had been founded in 1831. This tradition of amalgamation has continued right up to the present day.

Text, logo and branch images reproduced by kind permission of Coutts Brand Communications

Click on the Coutts logo to visit their website


Coutts was founded in 1692 by a Scottish goldsmith, John Campbell, who set up shop at the sign of the Three Crowns on the Strand in London. As a goldsmith-banker he built a distinguished clientele from the nobility and military, headed by his kinsman the 1st Duke of Argyll. In 1708, a fellow goldsmith, George Middleton from Aberdeen, became a partner and in 1712 married Campbell’s daughter, Mary. Middleton took on the running of the business at John’s death in 1712. In 1720, Middleton temporarily stopped payment due to the 1720 financial crisis but was back in business by 1723 and took his brother-in-law, George Campbell as a partner in 1727. Middleton’s nephew David Bruce joined them in 1744.

The business moved to 59 Strand in 1739 and Middleton died in 1747, by which time the goldsmithing side had discontinued. In 1755, James Coutts married John Campbell’s granddaughter and the Bank became known as Campbell & Coutts. In 1761, Thomas Coutts joined his brother James and their partnership continued until 1775, when James retired through ill-health. The Bank took the title of Thomas Coutts & Co and by 1800 its customer list was wide-ranging and distinguished, including royalty. The business of Davison, Noel, Templer, Middleton & Wedgwood was acquired in 1816.

When Thomas died in 1822, his half-share in the Bank was passed to his widow, Harriot and it was renamed Coutts & Co. In 1837, on Harriot’s death, her fortune was left to Thomas’ youngest grandchild, Angela Burdett, who later became Baroness Burdett-Coutts. The business of Hammersley, Greenwood & Brooksbank was taken over in 1840 and Coutts was by this time one of the leading private banks in London. Successive generations of the same families became partners.  In 1892, Coutts became an unlimited liability company in response to the various banking crises. It moved to 440 Strand in 1904, where it remains today. 

1969 – Coutts Head Office at 440 Strand, London

Image reproduced by kind permission of

Coutts Brand Communications © 1969

The acquisition of Robarts, Lubbock& Co of 15 Lombard Street in 1914 gave Coutts its first branch and a seat in the Clearing House.  In 1920, Coutts affiliated with the National Provincial & Union Bank of England Ltd but retained its identity, own Board and ways of working. Branches were opened in the West End and in 1961 the first out-of-town office opened at Eton. At the end of the 1960s, Coutts became part of the newly-created National Westminster Bank and during the 1970s the old interior at 440 Strand was remodelled, retaining the original Nash facades. The Coutts Group was formed in 1990 from HandelsBank NatWest and Nat West International Trust Holdings Ltd, giving Coutts more opportunities in more jurisdictions. When Nat West was acquired by RBS in 2000, Coutts became the private banking arm of the new Group. The strategic focus today is to provide exceptional private banking and wealth management to clients in the UK.     

Main text and logo images reproduced by kind permission of RBS Archives

Click on the RBS logo to read more about the District Bank

at the Royal Bank of Scotland Archives, heritage section…

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This joint stock bank was promoted in 1829 by Joseph Macardy, a Manchester stockbroker, originally under the name District Union Banking Co. Before it commenced business in December 1829 it was renamed Manchester & Liverpool District Banking Co and acquired the Stockport private bank of Christy, Lloyd & Co. The bank's Manchester office, initially in Norfolk Street, moved to Spring Gardens in 1834. Branches were opened in Oldham, Liverpool and Hanley in 1830 and by late 1833 17 branches existed. Nantwich & South Cheshire Joint Stock Bank was acquired upon its failure in 1844, followed by Loyd, Entwisle & Co of Manchester in 1863 and J, J & G Alcock of Burslem in 1865.

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October 1946 – Cheque, District Bank Stone, Staffordshire

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

1967 - District Bank Ltd Solihull

Image reproduced by kind permission of RBS Archives © 1967

By 1880, when the bank acquired limited liability, becoming Manchester & Liverpool District Banking Co Ltd, it had 54 branches and sub-branches in Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire. In 1881 Southport & West Lancashire Banking Co was acquired.


Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

1968 Lancaster University

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

1960 York Cattle Market

Image © Barclays


The bank opened an office in London in 1885 and in 1891 acquired William, John & Thomas Brocklehurst & Co of Macclesfield. Branches continued to be opened in the north-west and Wales and Lancaster Banking Co and Bank of Whitehaven were acquired in 1907 and 1916 respectively.

The bank was renamed District Bank Ltd in 1924, a title by which it had long been popularly known. A second office was opened in London in 1925. In 1935 the business amalgamated with County Bank, a Manchester-based bank with a network of 190 branches, creating a merged bank with a paid-up capital of £3 million.

In 1936 it was admitted to the London Clearing House.  By the late 1930s a number of branches had been opened east of the Pennines, in the Midlands, southern England and Wales. This expansion of the network resumed after the Second World War.  In 1962 the bank was acquired by National Provincial Bank, but it continued to operate independently until 1968, by which time it had 570 branches.

In 1968 National Provincial Bank announced plans to merge with Westminster Bank. Extensive preparations were made, and from 1 January 1970 the three merging banks' names disappeared from the high street, being replaced by National Westminster Bank.

Main text and logo images reproduced by kind permission of RBS Archives

Click on the RBS logo to read more about Glyn, Mills & Co

at the Royal Bank of Scotland Archives, heritage section…

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Founded by three City gentlemen - Joseph Vere, Richard Glyn and Thomas Hallifax - this private bank opened at 70 Lombard Street, London in 1753, trading as Vere, Glyn & Hallifax. By 1800 the bank had moved to Birchin Lane. It prospered, developing a large business as London agent for many of the growing provincial banks, providing banking facilities for more than 200 of the new railway companies and handling the important Canadian financial agency. In 1841 Glyn, Mills took over many of the customer accounts of Ladbroke & Co upon that bank’s closure and from 1851 was known as Glyn, Mills & Co. In 1864 it acquired the business of Curries & Co, and was restyled Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co. In 1885, with a paid-up capital of £1 million, Glyn, Mills became the first private bank to publish a half-yearly balance sheet, registering as a joint-stock company under the title of Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co with a capital of £1½ million. In 1890 it played a major role in preventing the collapse of merchant bankers Baring Brothers, thereby saving a number of London's financial institutions from ruin. By that time the bank had established many international links and was handling share issues for major companies and governments at home and abroad.

Glyn, Mills & Co’s futuristic branch at London’s Millbank, and (below right) a cheque from the Lombard St head Office…


Images Reproduced By kind Permission Of

RBS Archive ©


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Glyn, Mills took over Holt & Co in 1923, after which the firm was renamed Glyn, Mills, Currie, Holt & Co, and Child & Co in 1924, whence it was known as Glyn, Mills & Co. A prestigious new head office building in Lombard Street was completed in 1933. However, with war looming, Glyn, Mills’ private partnership status and relatively small size had made it unviable and in 1939 it was acquired by The Royal Bank of Scotland. Glyn, Mills continued to trade separately, managed by its own board of directors and offering its own range of services. Glyn, Mills acquired the banking businesses of the British Overseas Bank and Anglo-International Bank in 1944, and of A Ruffer & Sons in 1946. In 1965 Glyn, Mills Finance Co was established to take on large, long-term deposits at competitive rates of interest.  In 1969 The Royal Bank of Scotland was restructured and Glyn, Mills & Co became a direct subsidiary of a new holding company, National & Commercial Banking Group. The following year the holding company's subsidiaries in England and Wales - Glyn, Mills & Co, Williams Deacon's Bank, and the English and Welsh branches of The National Bank - merged to form Williams & Glyn's Bank.

Main text and logo images reproduced by kind permission of Lloyds Banking Group Archives

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Click on the Lloyds logo to read more about Lloyds Bank

at Lloyds Banking Group Archives …




The firm of Taylors & Lloyds opened as a private bank in Birmingham, in June 1765. It was founded by John Taylor, Sampson Lloyd and their two sons. Taylor was a Unitarian and a cabinet maker, Lloyd a Quaker and iron founder. The bank they established was one of the first in Birmingham. It was essentially a town bank, with a strong manufacturing and mercantile customer base. Under the prudent eyes of successive partners, the business prospered for nearly 100 years from a single office. During this period, Birmingham became the powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution, and was known as the ‘workshop of the world’. Taylors & Lloyds played a prominent role in financing trade and industry in the town.

The bank was particularly active in the manufacturing and engineering sectors. The association with the Taylor family ended in 1852, when John Taylor’s great-grandsons opted for the life of country gentlemen, in preference to banking. The firm's name was changed to Lloyds & Company. New legislation, coupled with a need for increased capital, led Lloyds to convert from a private bank to a joint-stock company in 1865. its name changed once again; it was now Lloyds Banking Company Limited.

The move was part of a general trend in banking, and provided Lloyds with a much broader financial base. Instead of being run by the firm’s three partners, the bank now had a board of directors. These included not only members of the Lloyd family, but other prominent local businessmen too. Among these was a young Joseph Chamberlain.  He went on to become Mayor of Birmingham, an MP and a member of William Gladstone’s Cabinet. He was also the father of future Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. The conversion to joint-stock status resulted in an explosion of growth. More than 200 banks were taken over, directly and indirectly, in the next 50 years.

1962 Lloyds Bank Alresford Branch

Image reproduced by kind permission of Lloyd Banking Group Archives ©

1965 Lloyds Bank Rochdale Branch Interior

Image reproduced by kind permission of Lloyd Banking Group Archives ©

In the 1880s, Lloyds, already a powerful force in the Midlands, turned its attention to London. In 1884, it absorbed the Lombard Street bank of Barnetts, Hoares, & Co. This acquisition is of particular significance because it brought about the connection with the black horse.Although this symbol had most recently been used by Barnetts, Hoares & Co., its origins date back much further: the sign of the black horse was first recorded as hanging above the shop of Humphrey Stocks, a Lombard Street goldsmith, in 1677.

Other important London takeovers included that of Twinings Bank, in 1892. This had grown out of the world-famous Twinings Tea Company. The following year, Lloyds acquired Herries, Farquhar & Co. which, in the late 18th century, had invented the traveller’s cheque. The first half of the 20th century marked a period of significant change for Lloyds, on many different levels.  

It continued its domestic growth, taking over banks large and small; it began its expansion overseas; its workforce changed beyond recognition, with the employment of women in large numbers during the First World War; and its accounting systems, largely unchanged since the 17th century, were transformed by mechanisation.

In 1918, Lloyds undertook what was to be its biggest takeover until the merger with TSB, some 80 years later.  It acquired Capital & Counties Bank. This latter was itself the result of the amalgamation of two banks, the Hampshire Banking Company and the North Wilts Banking Company. Through the takeover, Lloyds gained an additional 473 branches – an increase of 53%. This secured Lloyds' position as one of the ‘Big Five’ high street banks. Two more significant acquisitions followed. In 1921, Lloyds took over the Somerset bank of Fox, Fowler & Co. This was the last provincial bank in England and Wales to issue its own banknotes, which it had done continuously since 1787. It only ceased with the takeover. The second acquisition, in 1923, was that of army agency Cox’s & King’s.  Previously known as Cox & Co., this firm served as banker to the armed forces. During the First World War it had engaged in massive expansion. Its main office in Charing Cross, London, also stayed open 24 hours a day. This allowed officers returning to and from the Front to cash cheques, at any time of the day or night. In 1911, Lloyds ventured overseas for the first time. It acquired the firm of Armstrong & Co., which had offices in Paris and Le Havre.

ca.1966 Lloyds Bank Cheltenham Bath Road Branch

Image reproduced by kind permission of Lloyd Banking Group Archives ©

1967 Lloyds Bank Ashbourne Branch

Image reproduced by kind permission of Lloyd Banking Group Archives ©

This formed the basis of what later became Lloyds Bank Europe. Seven years on, branches in Argentina were acquired with the takeover of the London & River Plate Bank. Lloyds merged this latter with the London & Brazilian Bank, in 1923, forming the Bank of London & South America (BOLSA). Lloyds rationalised its overseas operations in 1971, by merging these international subsidiaries. The integration of the two businesses, one covering Europe and the other South America, was a major undertaking. Lloyds Bank International, as it later became, was absorbed into Lloyds Bank itself in 1986. Mechanisation of branch accounting procedures had begun in the late 1920s, but wasn’t completed until 1962. Just one year later, Lloyds took its next giant step and installed its first computer in a branch. In 1972, the first Cashpoint machine was installed, in Brentwood, Essex. The early Cashpoints were very similar to today’s ATMs. All the machines were online, issued variable amounts of cash and immediately debited the amount from the customer's account. The Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society joined Lloyds Bank in August 1995.

This was the first ever association between a bank and a building society. Later that year, Lloyds merged with TSB to create what was, at that time, the largest force in UK domestic banking. The Lloyds Bank brand reappeared on the high street in 2013, when Lloyds TSB once again became two separate banks. This followed a European Commission ruling in 2009 which required the Group to divest part of its business. More than 630 branches across Britain were brought together to form the new TSB. 

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collection


Main text logo and some images reproduced by kind permission of HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBC Archives)

Click on the HSBC logo to read more about

Midland Bank at HSBC.com History …



Birmingham was a remarkable hive of enterprise in the early nineteenth century. The region was the homeland of the industrial revolution, with hundreds of businesses, factories and manufacturers busily creating jobs and wealth. It was to serve this community that a new bank was born in 1836 - the Birmingham and Midland Bank, forerunner of today’s HSBC Bank plc.

Birth of the bank

Charles Geach - then just 28 years old – spotted the opportunity to establish a new bank. With support from the local business community, he left his secure position at the Bank of England’s Birmingham branch to become manager of Midland’s first office at 30 Union Street, Birmingham on 22 August 1836. Midland prospered in its early years and the first year’s profit totaled over £3,000. Only eighteen months later, the bank moved to new and larger premises higher up Union Street on the corner of Little Cherry Street.

The Midland Bank Coat of Arms

© HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBC Archives)

These new premises cost £6,300 and even incorporated a handsome house that was intended for Mr Geach’s private use.

1962 - Midland Bank Bradford Kirkgate

© HSBC Holdings plc (HSBC Archives)

Early years and expansion

The bank forged close relationships with local businesses and developed lasting connections with major commercial houses over the following decades. This meant that it emerged from the successive financial crises of this period with a strong and loyal customer base. Midland also acquired its first branch in 1851 when it purchased the ‘Stourbridge Old Bank’ of Bate and Robbins. With business booming, the premises at Union Street became too small to cope. A new head office was commissioned on the corner of New Street and Stephenson Place and on 26 July 1869 Midland moved into its new home right in the heart of Birmingham. By the mid-1870s Midland was the second-largest bank in Birmingham. The strength of the local economy was an important ingredient in its success, and in the following decade the bank opened branches across the midlands to increase customers and business within this heartland. In 1890, the bank was ready to expand into new pastures and acquired two Leeds-based banks.

This raised the total number of branch offices from 3 to 45 in the space of a decade.

Birmingham to London

In the 1890s the bank took an important step with a move to the world’s leading financial centre - the City of London. London acted as a powerful magnet in the banking world at this time and British and European banks were all keen to be represented there. Midland gained ten London branches in 1891 when it acquired the Central Bank of London. However, it was the purchase of City Bank in 1898 that transformed Midland into a leading London bank and prompted the move to new grand headquarters in Threadneedle Street. Under the direction of Edward Holden, Chairman and Managing Director, the bank conducted a succession of amalgamations from its new London base over the next two decades. By 1918 no less than 30 banks had been bought up, and through these acquisitions, Midland had indirectly inherited the business of over 100 banking firms across the country. Midland was now ranked the biggest bank in the world - a position it was to hold until 1948.  During the First World War the bank had to cope with many changes in its labour force. Over 4,000 of its 9,000 staff bravely served during the war, and to make up the shortfall behind the counters the bank began to employ women in large numbers for the first time.

1950 s Midland Bank book style home safe.jpg

Midland Bank Book Style Moneybox

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

The bank’s growth continued throughout the 1920s and 30s. Midland expanded its branch network, concentrating particularly on fast-growing metropolitan and suburban areas. By this time, the business had also begun to outgrow its head office on Threadneedle Street. The bank was keen to build on a grand scale and the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, then at the height of his power and reputation, was chosen to design the new building at Poultry. The result was greeted as the outstanding City building of its time and dubbed ‘a palace of finance’ by one contemporary expert. The onset of the Second World War halted any further growth and brought widespread destruction to the branch network, with over 1,350 reports of damage from aerial bombing across the UK.

1964 – Advertisement for the computerisation of accounts

© HSBC Holdings plc (HSBC Archives)

1962 - Midland Bank West End Computer Centre

© HSBC Holdings plc (HSBC Archives)


Recovery and innovation

Following the war, Midland made gradual steps towards recovery. Credit restrictions and exchange controls severely limited the scope for business expansion while official controls on building meant that repair and replacement on war-damaged branches was delayed or postponed. The ending of credit restrictions in 1958, however, ushered in a new phase in British banking and Midland took this opportunity to strengthen its branch network. By 1960 it had opened a total of 150 new branches.  

Much of Midland’s post-war history was dominated by innovation in the range of banking services it provided. Gift cheques, introduced in 1955, were the first of their kind in the UK. Midland also became the first British bank to advertise on television in 1956. Soon afterwards in 1958, the bank pioneered non-secured personal loans which added to Midland’s reputation as an innovator.

1966 – Innovation – Midland Bank Pioneers

the Cheque Guarantee Card

© HSBC Holdings plc (HSBC Archives)

After the launch, requests for loans poured in. In the first week alone, £1 million was advanced to customers. The UK’s Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, wrote to Midland’s chairman: ‘You certainly put the cat among the pigeons. I shall send my application in due course.’

1966 – Inside and out: Midland Bank Bedford

© HSBC Holdings plc (HSBC Archives)

Modernising Midland

By the 1970s Midland was facing much larger rivals in its domestic markets. With the banking market growing so rapidly the bank acknowledged that the traditional branch office was no longer the most cost-effective way of dealing with large volumes of business. Its response was a novel approach that came well ahead of its contemporaries - central management teams were transferred to new area offices while smaller branches were converted to service branches dedicated to day-to-day customer business. This process continued into the next decades, with the bank leading the way in automation to improve the banking experience for customers, both within the branch and enabling them to bank from their own homes. In 1989 Midland launched a completely new kind of bank – first direct.  This was the UK’s first telephone bank, offering a full range of services through its 24 hour telephone lines.  It continues to win awards to this day for its excellent customer service, products and innovation. 

1968 – Side by side at Carnforth

Martins and Midland (with its new modern signage)

Image - Martins Bank Archive Collections © ITV Studios (Granada TV 1968)

In 1992 HSBC Holdings plc acquired full ownership of Midland Bank, in one of the largest acquisitions in banking history. Midland was renamed HSBC Bank plc in 1999 and in 2003 bade a fond farewell to Poultry. Head office was transferred across to HSBCs new global headquarters in Canary Wharf in London’s Docklands.


Main text and logo images reproduced by kind permission of RBS Archives


Click on the RBS logo to read more about the National Bank Ltd

at the Royal Bank of Scotland Archives, heritage section…



This bank was formed as National Bank of Ireland in 1835. It was a joint-stock bank founded by a group of MPs and other gentlemen, including Daniel O'Connell. Frustrated by the exclusivity of the Bank of Ireland (est. 1783), and the English orientation of the Provincial Bank of Ireland (est. 1825), the founders aimed to form a bank both to provide capital for Irish economic development and to serve the needs of small traders and tenant farmers, as well as those of the gentry. The bank's head office was located in the City of London, at 39 Old Broad Street and, although the majority of backers were English, the banking business was carried on entirely in Ireland. The bank’s London agents were Barnett, Hoares & Co, bankers of Lombard Street, City of London.

Lamie Murray, manager of the bank, modelled the organisation on Thomas Joplin's Provincial Bank of Ireland - a joint-stock bank with branches operating as subsidiary companies, the shares being held partly by the parent bank and partly by local people. By the end of 1835 the bank had opened 11 branches and 18 sub-branches and an unsuccessful attempt had been made to establish a subsidiary company in Belfast, as the Belfast National Bank of Ireland. By May 1836 the bank had a paid-up capital of £374,140, of which £133,125 was subscribed locally in Ireland. In 1837, however, owing to administrative problems, the principle of the semi-autonomous branch was abandoned and the capital consolidated.

1960s National Bank – Leicester Belgrave Gate Branch

Image reproduced by kind permission of RBS Archives ©

In 1845 the Irish Banking Act ended the Bank of Ireland's monopoly in and around Dublin, and a chief office of the National Bank in Ireland was immediately opened at 34 and 35 College Green, Dublin.  The Act also fixed the banknote issue of the National Bank at £852,269.In 1847 the National Bank of Ireland also absorbed the London & Dublin Bank of Dublin, regaining a number of branches which it had established in 1837 and had had to dispose of because of their proximity to Dublin. In 1854 the bank opened its first branch in England at 13 Old Broad Street in the City of London, where the board had met since 1839. In 1856, the bank's name was changed from National Bank of Ireland to The National Bank Ltd and, in 1859, with a paid-up capital of £500,000, it was invited to join the London Clearing House. The expansion of the London business continued, and, by 1888, The National Bank was the eighth largest British bank in terms of authorised (£7.5 million) and issued (£1.5 million) capital and only four other banks had more branches in London. This growth was sustained with over 60 further branches opened between 1888 and 1922. After the First World War the board, preoccupied with warding off take-over bids and coping with problems caused by the political and economic situation in Ireland, began to consolidate.  The depression of agriculture had a detrimental effect on business, whilst the subsequent establishment of the Irish Free State had implications for the bank's shareholding, tax affairs and note issue.

1960s National Bank Cheque – Bristol, Clare Street

Image reproduced by kind permission of RBS Archives ©

In 1922, therefore, when a parliament was re-established in Dublin, the bank formed an Irish board to manage the larger Irish side of the business. This did not however, solve all of the bank's problems, rather they were further compounded by the general economic recession of the 1920s and 1930s and the Second World War.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the expansion of the Irish economy provided much business for the bank, but, by the mid-1960s, it was apparent that it was no longer appropriate for such an important Irish bank to be controlled from London and operate as a member of the London Clearing.

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In 1966, therefore, the bank's business in Ireland was transferred to a new company, National Bank of Ireland, and sold to Bank of Ireland (est. 1783). The 36 English and Welsh branches passed to National Commercial Bank of Scotland, although The National Bank, with a paid-up capital of £3 million, continued to operate its branch network independently until 1970, when the branches became part of the new Williams & Glyn's Bank.  Branches: The bank opened 44 English and Welsh branches and sub-branches between 1835 and 1966, located in South Wales, London and other key English cities such as Liverpool and Manchester. In 1970 there were 38 branches operating in England and Wales.


1960 s National Provincial Coat of Arms - RBS Ref NAT-718x

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Main text and logo images reproduced by kind permission of RBS Archives


Click on the RBS logo to read more about National Provincial

Bank Ltd at the Royal Bank of Scotland Archives, heritage section…

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Preparatory work to establish a bank called Royal Bank began on the instigation of Thomas Joplin in 1828. By 1833 a provisional committee was meeting regularly and the bank's name was changed to National Provincial Bank of England. Shares were allocated and a deed of settlement signed in 1833. The bank's policy was to open branches in England and Wales outside the 65-mile limit around London so it could issue its own banknotes, with a purely administrative head office situated in London. The first branch was opened in Gloucester in 1834, followed by branches in Brecon, Walsall, Birmingham, Wotton under Edge, Boston and Wisbech, the aim being a bank with a national rather than regional branch network. Paid-up capital in 1834 was £101,500. By mid-1835 20 branches and sub-branches had been opened but the original principle of the semi-autonomous branch with its own local shareholders proved unworkable and was abandoned. Daniel Robertson was appointed the first general manager, and he continued in this post until 1863.


By 1865 the bank had 122 branches, many of which were established through the acquisition of small private and joint stock country banks including: Rottons & Scholefields of Birmingham in 1834; Bloxsome & Co of Dursley in 1835; Bristol City Bank branch of Northern & Central Bank in 1835; Pyke, Scott & Co of Barnstaple in 1836; Vye & Harris of Ilfracombe in 1836; William Skinner & Co of Stockton in 1836; Husband & Co of Devonport in 1839; Lichfield, Rugeley & Tamworth Banking Co in 1838; Harris & Co of Dartmouth in 1840; Hulke, Dixon & Co of Deal in 1840; Fryer, Andrews & Co of Wimborne in 1840; Fector & Co of Dover in 1841; Cole, Holroyd & Co of Exeter in 1842; Pretor, Pew & Co of Sherbourne in 1843; Loveband & Co of Torrington in 1843; Ley & Co of Bideford in 1843; Isle of Wight Joint Stock Bank of Newport in 1844; Stockton & Durham County Bank of Stockton in 1846; Thomas Kinnersly & Sons of Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1855; William Moore of Stone in 1858; Crawshay, Bailey & Co of Abergavenny in 1868; and David Morris & Sons of Carmarthen in 1871. In 1866 a new head office was opened in Bishopsgate, City of London, where the first London branch was also established, obliging the bank to give up its note issue. Bank of Leeds Ltd was acquired in 1878 followed by County of Stafford Bank Ltd in 1899 and Knaresborough & Claro Banking Co Ltd in 1903.


1962 – National Provincial Ltd Portsmouth

Image reproduced by kind permission of RBS Archives ©

Limited liability was assumed in 1880 as National Provincial Bank of England Ltd. Paid-up capital grew from £450,000 in 1853, to £1.08 million in 1866, to £1.68 million in 1878 and to £3 million in 1905. By 1900 the bank had around 200 branches. A half share in Lloyds Bank (France) Ltd was acquired in 1918. This bank was renamed Lloyds & National Provincial Foreign Bank Ltd in 1919 and had branches in London, France, Belgium and Switzerland. In 1918 National Provincial Bank of England merged with the important Union of London & Smiths Bank Ltd, which had over 230 branches, and was restyled National Provincial & Union Bank of England Ltd. The new bank had over 700 branches and extended its geographical spread through the acquisition of W & J Biggerstaffe of London in 1918; Sheffield Banking Co Ltd in 1919; Bradford District Bank Ltd in 1918; Northamptonshire Union Bank Ltd in 1920; Richards & Co of Llangollen in 1920; Shilson, Coode & Co of St Austell in 1920; Dingley & Co of Launceston in 1922; Dingley, Pearse & Co of Okehampton in 1922; and Guernsey Banking Co Ltd of the Channel Islands in 1924. 

The important London private bank of Coutts & Co was also acquired in 1920 and continued to trade under its own name. The bank’s name was shortened to National Provincial Bank Ltd in 1924. It continued to expand its branch network between the wars and after 1945. It acquired North Central Wagon & Finance Co Ltd of Rotherham, a leasing and hire purchase company, in 1958 and Isle of Man Bank Ltd in 1961, the latter retaining its own name. In 1954 National Provincial Bank sold its holding in Lloyds & National Provincial Foreign Bank Ltd. In 1962 it acquired District Bank Ltd, an important regional bank which continued to trade under its own name, and in 1965 a merchant banking subsidiary, County Bank Ltd, was formed. In 1968 the bank announced its merger with Westminster Bank, but it continued to trade under its own name until vesting day of National Westminster Bank in 1970.

1960 s Westminster Bank Sharesx

Main text and logo images reproduced by kind permission of RBS Archives

Click on the RBS logo to read more about Westminster Bank Ltd

at the Royal Bank of Scotland Archives, heritage section…

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This joint stock bank was established in Southwark in 1836 as Surrey, Kent & Sussex Banking Co. Branches were almost immediately opened at Brighton, Canterbury, Croydon, Lewes, Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Woolwich. The head office was moved to 71 Lombard Street, City of London, in 1837 and in 1839 the bank was renamed London & County Banking Co. In 1839 Jeffreys & Co of Chatham was acquired, followed by Hopkins & Drewett of Arundel in 1841; Hector, Lacy & Co of Petersfield in 1841; Ridge & Co of Chichester in 1841; Halford, Baldock & Co of Canterbury in 1841; Emmerson, Hodgson & Emmerson of Sandwich in 1841; Davenport, Walker & Co (est. 1838) of Oxford in 1842; Wilmshurst & Co of Cranbrook in 1843; T & TS Chapman of Aylesbury in 1844; and John Stoveld & Co of Petworth in 1845. By 1845 the bank had over 40 branches.

Other acquisitions quickly followed: Trapp, Halfhead & Co of Bedford in 1849; Berkshire Union Banking Co of Newbury in 1852; Eddy & Squire of Berkhampsted in 1855; the business of the Western Bank of London in 1859; the business of Robert Davies & Co of Shoreditch, London, which failed in 1860; Nunn & Co of Manningtree in 1870; Vallance & Payne (est. 1800) of Sittingbourne in 1888; and Hove Banking Co Ltd in 1891.  By 1875 the bank had 150 branches, more than any other British bank. Deposits grew from £84,700 in 1837 to £21.25m in 1872 and £46.16m in 1904, while paid-up capital expanded from £23,700 in 1837 to £500,000 in 1857 and £2m in 1883. Limited liability was acquired in 1866 and by 1904 there were 200 branches.

Frederick Burt & Co Ltd of London, foreign bankers, was acquired in 1907. In August 1909 the bank merged with London & Westminster Bank. In order to effect the amalgamation London & County Banking Co was renamed London County & Westminster Bank and acquired the assets and business of London & Westminster Bank, which was then wound up. In 1909 London & County Bank had 70 metropolitan branches and nearly 200 country branches, mostly south of a line from Bournemouth, Dorset, to Clacton, Essex.

1968 Westminster Bank Stourbridge

Image reproduced by kind permission of RBS Archives ©

London & Westminster Bank had 37 branches in London and its suburbs. The new combined bank had paid-up capital of £3.5m and a balance sheet total of over £80m. In 1911 London County & Westminster Bank acquired the business of the failed Birkbeck Bank of London. In 1917 it acquired Ulster Bank Ltd, which had 170 branches; the latter continued to operate separately.In 1913 London County & Westminster Bank (Paris) Ltd was established; it was known as Westminster Foreign Bank Ltd from 1923 and opened branches in several European countries. In 1918, when paid-up capital was £4.12m, the bank merged with Parr’s Bank to form London County Westminster & Parr’s Bank Ltd. It had 700 branches, paid-up capital of £6.8m and a balance sheet total of £286m.


The bank's name was shortened to Westminster Bank Ltd in 1923. The bank continued to expand through acquisition, and its paid-up capital rose from £9m in 1923 to £40.5m in 1935. Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Banking Co was acquired in 1919, followed by the banks of Beckett & Co of Leeds and York in 1921, Stilwell & Sons of London in 1923 and Guernsey Commercial Banking Co in 1924. By 1939 there were 1,100 branches. In 1968 the bank announced plans to merge with National Provincial Bank. The two banks continued to operate separately until 1 January 1970, when they became National Westminster Bank.  In 1968 1,400 branches were operating.


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Main text and logo images reproduced by kind permission of RBS Archives

Click on the RBS logo to read more about Williams Deacon’s Bank Ltd at the Royal Bank of Scotland Archives, heritage section…

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This joint-stock bank was established in Manchester in 1836 as Manchester & Salford Bank by a group of promoters keen to take advantage of recent legislation allowing the formation of joint-stock banks outside London.

The bank had up to 15 directors and the issued capital was £1m, of which £252,100 was paid up by December 1836. The first shareholders' meeting, in May 1836, took place in temporary premises, but in August 1836 a banking house was rented in King Street.

Land off Mosley Street was later acquired and a new banking house completed in 1838. From the late 1850s the bank expanded rapidly. Branches were opened in nearby towns, a new banking house in Mosley Street was built in 1862 and a number of local banking firms were acquired: Heywood Brothers & Co of Manchester in 1874; Hardcastle, Cross & Co of Bolton in 1878; and Clement Royds & Co of Rochdale in 1881.

1964 WILLIAMS DEACON’S ADVERTISEMENT – Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

In July 1881 the business was registered as a limited liability company, Manchester & Salford Bank Ltd, and by December 1881 it had a paid-up capital of £757,480. By the 1880s the number of private banks was declining and large clearing banks with London head offices and nationwide branch networks had begun to emerge.  In 1890, with 47 branches, the bank took over Williams, Deacon & Co, the bank’s London agent since 1836. The new bank was renamed Williams Deacon & Manchester & Salford Bank Ltd and the head office transferred to Birchin Lane, City of London, to retain Williams, Deacon & Co's membership of the London Clearing House.  By the end of that year the bank had a paid-up capital of £1m.

1969 – Williams Deacon’s Bank Ltd Swinton

Image reproduced by kind permission of RBS Archives ©

Profits increased steadily during the last decade of the 19th century and, in 1901, the name of the bank was changed to Williams Deacon's Bank Ltd, a less awkward title which better reflected the broad geographical spread of the branches.  In 1907 Sheffield & Rotherham Joint Stock Banking Co Ltd was acquired, and after the First World War the bank's policy of expansion was resumed and 52 new branches were opened between 1919 and 1922.

Around this time the bank also established a new department for foreign business and was among the subscribers to British Overseas Bank Ltd, which was set up to facilitate British foreign trade. Facilities for trustees and executors were also extended. The post-war boom was short-lived and swiftly followed by widespread economic recession. Lancashire, where most of the bank's business lay, was particularly badly affected, and during the mid-1920s the bank's profits were severely undermined by increasing provision for bad debts.

Williams Deacon's urgently needed support from a larger partner, and in 1929, through the offices of the Bank of England, The Royal Bank of Scotland made an offer for the company's entire share capital.  Purchase terms, involving a transfer of shares, were finally agreed in 1930 and Williams Deacon's branches became the foundation of The Royal Bank of Scotland's branch network in England.

1960 to 1968: From Tradition to new technology - So much can happen in a few short years…

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

Left: Printed January 1960 Williams Deacon’s Bank Ainsdale Cheque

Right: Late 1960s Williams Deacon’s 24 Hour Cash Card


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After 1930 Williams Deacon's Bank continued to trade separately with its own Manchester-based head office and board of directors. During the 1950s the directors decided to widen the bank's geographical coverage and a number of new offices were opened in the south, East Anglia and the Midlands. The growing importance of the motor car was reflected in the launch of the bank's first drive-in branch at Preston in 1959. During the following decade Williams Deacon's was amongst the first of the clearing banks to recognise the potential of offshore financial centres, and consequently established a number of offices and subsidiary companies in the Channel Islands.

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

Left: 17 July 1968, Williams Deacon’s own “Bank on Wheels” at the Carlisle Show



A new head office building was opened in Manchester in 1963.   By 1969 the bank had a paid-up capital of £5m. In 1969 The Royal Bank of Scotland was restructured and Williams Deacon's became a direct subsidiary of a new holding company, National & Commercial Banking Group. The following year the holding company's subsidiaries in England and Wales - Williams Deacon's Bank, Glyn, Mills & Co and the English and Welsh branches of The National Bank - merged to form Williams & Glyn's Bank. Branches: The bank opened 293 branches and sub-branches between 1836 and 1970, located throughout England and Wales, but until the 1950s particularly focused on the north west of England. In 1970 288 branches were operating.