Customers invited to help NatWest's Clifton The Mall branch celebrate its 150th birthday

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Customers invited to help NatWest's Clifton The Mall branch celebrate its 150th birthday

Staff at NatWest's Clifton The Mall branch are busy celebrating a very special event - the branch's 150th birthday.

24 January 2012

As part of the celebrations, which will run until 3 February 2012, the staff have decorated the branch and created a display of old photos, street plans and branch ledgers, for customers to look through.

NatWest's Clifton Bristol The Mall branch was opened by National Provincial Bank of England in January 1862. On 18 January 1862 the bank's board of directors, upon receiving a request from a committee of Clifton residents, resolved to open a branch there immediately. The local newspaper records the opening of the new office on 29th January 1862 at 174 Mall Buildings, adjoining the Clifton Club, under the management of Frederick Howard.

At the time National Provincial Bank established its branch in Clifton, the town was flourishing, its population having grown from about 4,500 to 17,000 over the previous 50 years, and it boasted a number of elegant and fashionable residential streets, including Victoria Square and Caledonia Place. The National Provincial branch prospered in this environment, and was the only bank in Clifton until 1878, when Bristol Old Bank opened a branch almost opposite, at 42 Caledonia Place.

During the First World War many skilled bank staff left to join the forces and sadly two members of the Clifton branch staff lost their lives on active service. During this period, banks faced increasing competition and were forced to grow in order to compete. In 1918 National Provincial Bank of England merged with Union of London & Smiths Bank, which through a series of amalgamations had in 1903 acquired the business of Bristol Old Bank. The merged bank, known from 1924 as National Provincial Bank, thereby had two branches in Clifton, and in 1921 the bank extended and adapted its Caledonia Place premises by acquiring the corner site of 43 & 44 Caledonia Place and 11 & 13 The Mall in order to accommodate the business of both offices. Care was taken during the remodelling to preserve and emulate the classical design of the building, originally built in 1788, extending upwards to a height of fifteen feet the three arched windows which face The Mall, creating an imposing and spacious banking hall, and adding a bowed porch to the Caledonia Place entrance.

The Second World War brought similar difficulties to those experienced in 1914-18, as staff joined the forces, but prosperity returned in the post-war years. In 1970 National Westminster Bank was formed through the merger of National Provincial Bank with Westminster Bank, which itself had two branches in Clifton. In 1978 the business of the former Westminster Bank office in Regent Street was transferred to the premises at 42-44 Caledonia Place, which are listed Grade II* for their architectural merit, and from which The Mall branch continues to operate today.

Commenting on the celebrations, Craig Taylor, Manager of NatWest's Clifton The Mall Branch, said: "We are delighted to be celebrating the fact that NatWest has been operating a banking service in this part of Bristol for 150 years. We are proud of our close association with the area and look forward to celebrating this occasion with our customers, as well as continuing to provide a high quality service to the local community."

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