Westminster Bank Ltd | RBS Heritage Hub

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Westminster Bank Ltd

Staff at London County & Westminster Bank's London Victoria Street branch, 1919 © RBS 2016

 

Westminster Bank Ltd (1836-1969), established in London, was a past constituent of NatWest.

 

Brief history

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. 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.

Branches: In 1968 1,400 branches were operating. 

 

Published histories

  • TE Gregory, The Westminster Bank through a Century (London: privately published by Westminster Bank, 1936)
  • F MacColl, The Key to our Success: A Brief History of the NatWest Group (London: privately published by National Westminster Bank, 1996)
  • RH Mottram, The Westminster Bank 1836-1936 (London: privately published by Westminster Bank, 1936)
  • R Reed, National Westminster Bank: A Short History (London: privately published by National Westminster Bank, 1989)

 

Summary of our archive holdings

Our archival records of Westminster Bank Ltd have the reference code WES.

For help understanding words used here, check our glossary of banking record types (PDF 24KB).

Corporate/partnership records

  • annual reports 1836-1932
  • rough directors’ meeting minutes 1836-1839
  • deed of settlement 1836-1883
  • list of directors 1836-1905
  • directors’ meeting minutes 1836-1971
  • share register 1838-1839
  • committee minutes 1838-1839
  • dividend warrants 1838-1858
  • annual general meeting minutes 1838-1905
  • book of business for referral to audit, discount etc committees 1838-1839
  • letters from general manager 1838-1840
  • general purpose committee minutes 1839-1841
  • share transfer deeds 1839
  • notice of change of name 1839
  • board agenda books 1839-1843
  • address to shareholders, Thomas Joplin 1840
  • notes on half-yearly meetings 1840-1859
  • annual general meeting reports 1840-1908, 1910-1969
  • register of board instructions to general manager 1841-1862
  • board standing order books 1841-1893
  • chairman’s personal papers 1842-1862
  • special committee minutes 1842-1849
  • board daily committee minute books 1848-1969
  • correspondence re transport of bullion 1854, 1864, 1879-1912
  • special committee rough minutes 1863
  • directors’ attendance and fee register 1863-1875
  • Lombard Street committee minutes 1864-1869, 1907-1910
  • memorandum book 1865
  • general managers’ information books 1865-1885
  • general statistics books 1865-1911
  • authorised signatories book 1867-1880
  • general meeting agenda book 1867-1954
  • papers re acquisition of Nunn & Co 1870-1874
  • share certificates 1872, 1910-1965
  • unclaimed dividends register 1874-1912
  • certificates of incorporation 1877-1968
  • papers re conversion to limited company 1879-1880
  • register of trusteeships 1880-1904
  • lists of shareholders 1887-1888
  • head office committee minute book 1896-1914
  • head office committee rough minutes 1896-1904
  • memorandum and articles of association 1898-1968
  • premises subcommittee, papers re Lombard Street 1901-1903
  • register of directors 1902-1909
  • daily committee agenda book 1904-1905
  • board reports re advances 1906-1909
  • register of directors 1909-1982
  • amalgamation papers 1909-1927
  • daily committee reports 1910-1964
  • reports general meetings 1910-1969
  • directors’ meeting standing orders 1911-1966
  • Yorkshire Penny Bank: correspondence re liability 1912-1914, agreement 1916
  • papers of Walter Leaf, chairman 1915-1921
  • directors’ visitor book 1917-1970
  • papers re remuneration of directors 1917-1968
  • report of Treasury Committee re bank 1918
  • amalgamations foreign business committee minute books 1918-1939
  • registers of bank investments 1918-1929
  • chief general manager’s papers 1919-1948
  • British Bankers Association minutes 1920-1950
  • daily committee sanctions minutes books 1921-1939
  • papers of John Rae chief general manager 1922-1930
  • minutes and papers of Committee of London Clearing Bankers 1930-1960
  • papers of AD Chesterfield chief general manager 1931-1965, chief general manager’s papers 1967-1969
  • general manager’s committee minutes 1919-1921, 1924-1964
  • papers of Ralph Elliott chief general manager 1922-1969
  • papers of WT Ford chief general manager 1928-1950
  • coat of arms patent 1928
  • registrar’s department information book 1920s-1950s
  • directors’ red books 1934-(1985)
  • deeds of charitable trust 1934-1966
  • papers of air raid precaution department 1938-1945
  • directors’ papers 1943
  • memoranda submitted to the board 1946-1969
  • economic intelligence department papers 1949-1960s
  • sub-committee minutes: administration 1951-1960, public services 1951-1960, city office 1951-1964
  • papers of Lord Aldenham, chairman 1953-1955
  • court order sanctioning scheme for reorganising capital 1954
  • Papers regarding Westminster Foreign Bank Ltd 1958-1967
  • Papers of Duncan Alexander Stirling, chairman 1961-1969
  • National Board for Prices and Incomes: papers 1966
  • joint letter to shareholders with National Provincial Bank Ltd re merger 1968
  • Westminster Bank Investments Committee: minutes and papers 1968-1969

Financial records

  • general ledgers 1836-1838
  • statistics 1865-1909
  • annual and half yearly reports 1909-1963
  • currency exchange rate books 1910-1982
  • Bank of England clearing figure book 1910-1928
  • chief accountant’s financial records 1911-1969
  • statements of accounts 1927-1950
  • administration accounts ledger 1929-1931
  • till books 1931-1956
  • statistical information compiled by Machine Accountancy Department 1934
  • weekly balance sheets 1959-1969

Legal records

  • bank solicitor’s correspondence 1896-1897
  • registers of cases being handled by solicitors 1884-1907
  • agreement re payment of pensions to special constables in London 1918
  • statement of liability re French taxation 1939

Customer records

  • deposit receipt book 1837
  • bad debt register 1838-(1915)
  • passbook 1843-1848
  • securities for advances 1850-1891
  • comparison of balance sheets 1868-1912
  • abstract of deeds re security transfers 1872-1874
  • credit slips 1870s-1890s
  • customer security forms 1880
  • specimen deeds of charge 1880-1900
  • forms 1895-1969
  • securities, deeds of appointment and powers of attorney 1897-(1915)
  • head office weekly estimates and returns 1906-1909
  • specimen circular notes, letters of credit and letters of indication 1909-1969
  • cheque books 1910-1972
  • memorandum on buying and selling stocks and shares 1911-1912
  • specimen cheques 1909-1920s
  • papers re guarantees to banks to cover advances to small holdings 1921-1923
  • investments ledger sheet 1922
  • code book 1922
  • papers re bad and doubtful debts 1930-1968
  • debit slips 1939-1958
  • greetings cheques 1958
  • specimen cheque book 1960s
  • specimen travellers cheques 1950s-1962

Head office branch records

  • branch committee minute books 1839-1848
  • instructions to managers 1839-1911
  • branch inspector’s letterbook 1841-1844
  • branch statistics 1864-1923, 1945-1967
  • annual lists of offices 1868-1871
  • building committee minute books 1874-1905
  • guide to adjustment of daily balance 1900
  • London branch opening report 1906
  • daily head office returns 1908-1909
  • new branch recommendation book 1913-1930
  • correspondence re proposed Spanish branches 1917-1921
  • branch statistics 1918-1943
  • New York office papers 1920-1946
  • profit and loss ledgers 1921-1967
  • branch lists 1913, 1924-1969
  • branch maps 1924-1960s
  • income tax calculation tables 1925-1965
  • branch mechanisation papers 1928-1935, 1939-1962
  • lists of branches under Metropolitan control c.1930
  • instructions re wartime measures 1939-1945
  • inspection report re Knightsbridge branch 1964
  • report re decentralisation of controls and London city offices 1966

Staff records

  • list of principal general managers 1834-1869
  • staff registers 1836-(1915)
  • miscellaneous staff papers 1841, 1864-1884
  • declarations of secrecy 1853
  • staff rules and regulations 1853-1908, 1910-(15)
  • manager guarantee policies 1863-1876
  • papers of Bankers’ Guarantee and Trust Fund 1866-1875
  • papers of chess club 1877-(1915)
  • bank officer authorities 1880-(1915)
  • Life Insurance Trust deposit account journal 1881-1906
  • clerk appointment leaflet 1886
  • list of head office staff 1891
  • rugby club: annual dinner programmes 1892-1961, fixture lists 1962-1965
  • sports club: papers 1894-(1915), annual reports 1900-1939, minutes 1902-1937, 1964, newspaper cuttings 1911-1926, fixture lists 1920s, 1935-1966, House Committee minute books 1925-1969, committee minutes 1946-1950, papers regarding the merger with National Provincial Bank sports club 1968-1970
  • athletics club: minute book 1894-1895
  • staff pay award correspondence 1897-(1915)
  • Provident Fund: subcommittee minutes 1905, minutes 1906-1969, annual report and accounts 1922-1937, rules and regulations 1932-1968
  • staff magazines 1907-(1915)
  • swimming club: minute books 1907-1974, programmes 1925, 1950, photographs 1930-1958, fixture list 1935-1937
  • hockey club minute books 1907-(1915)
  • rules and regulations re messengers’ guarantee fund and pensions 1908, 1911, 1919, 1933
  • rules of Widows and Orphans Fund c.1910
  • staff conditions of service 1910-1939, 1951-1966
  • staff appointment requirements 1910, 1919-1939
  • staff committee minutes 1911-(1915)
  • Manager’s Guarantee Fund rules 1911-1966
  • dramatic society: minutes 1913-1976, poster 1936, programmes 1895, 1925-1967, scripts n.d., photographs 1926-(1985)
  • staff rules 1915-1945
  • papers re rates of pay 1918
  • terms of employment 1919
  • football club: committee minutes 1919-1963
  • staff dinner menu cards 1920-1953
  • Cornhill dramatic society minutes 1920-1960
  • staff photographs 1925-1969
  • staff association sickness and accident rules 1926
  • cricket club: minute book 1926-1969, annual dinner programmes 1957-1970, blazer 1960s
  • lists of foreign correspondents 1927, 1936, 1946, 1948
  • Westminster Bank Guild: lectures 1928-1955, leaflets n.d., staff association booklets, including constitutions n.d., poster 1941, statement of accounts 1942, history of guild c.1942, rules and related papers of sickness and accident fund 1943
  • cross-country association fixture list 1929-1930
  • transcripts of lectures by chief general manager 1930-1937
  • luncheon club minutes 1932-1938
  • arts club minutes 1934-1969 and catalogue of annual exhibition 1937-1938
  • golfing society: annual dinner programmes 1936-1970
  • rowing club: fixture list 1937-1947, programme 1969
  • staff recruitment booklets and posters 1940s-1969
  • football club: annual dinner programme 1952, papers compiled for the club’s golden jubilee 1952
  • staff recruitment guardbook c.1955-1965
  • photographic society: minute book and cash book 1957-1968, exhibition brochures 1967-1968
  • motor club journal 1958-1963
  • head office instruction cards 1960-1967
  • shareholder circulars 1964-1968
  • staff policy and conditions of service 1968

Property records

  • rent ledgers 1836-1904
  • branch property expenditure books 1837-1906, 1960s
  • register of mortgaged property 1850s; branch architectural drawings c.1860s-1960s; property conveyances, bank trustees 1872
  • premises fixture book c.1890
  • premises photographs c.1900-1969
  • premises ledgers c.1900-c.1910, 1920s-30s, c.1958-1970
  • inspector of branches guardbook of branch postcards 1900-1925
  • establishment committee: minute books 1905-1910, minutes 1907-1922, premises reports 1909-1911
  • premises committee reports 1911-1969
  • Wartime evacuation procedures for Deal and Walmer branches: 1914-1918
  • correspondence re premises 1924-1925
  • list of branch opening dates 1926-1947
  • property agreements 1927-1979
  • bank residence inventories 1936
  • premises account ledgers c.1945-1962
  • probate register 1948-1951
  • residences and tenancies ledger c.1951-1954
  • minute book of general managers committee re premises expenditure 1957-1968
  • papers re new computer accountancy system for branches 1960s
  • slides of branches 1960s

Marketing records

  • presscuttings 1836-1839, 1921-1978
  • marketing posters 1910-1966
  • advertising guardbooks: 1923-1970, competitors 1939-1960s
  • Christmas cards 1925-1968
  • advertisement artwork and proofs c.1925-1960s
  • press advertising 1927, 1943, 1965, 1967-1970
  • promotional videos 1940s-1960s
  • advertising account book 1948-1966
  • booklets re advertising campaigns 1945, 1950
  • pictorial timeline 1966
  • marketing review 1967

Note issue records

  • banknote issue ledger for constituent banks 1828-1966
  • specimen banknotes 1929, 1960

Other

  • lists of constituent banks 1839-1841
  • general manager’s personal recollections 1899
  • papers re publication of bank history 1936-1937

Branch records

  • selected records

 

Summary of archive holdings elsewhere

  • Essex Record Office: Signature book of Chelmsford branch of London & County Bank, 1880-1903 (Ref: A12223)
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