Customers invited to help NatWest's Berkeley branch celebrate its 150th birthday

Customers invited to help NatWest's Berkeley branch celebrate its 150th birthday

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

28 February 2012

As part of the celebrations, the staff are sharing a birthday cake with their customers, and have photos of the branch dating back to 1892 for visitors to look at.

NatWest's Berkeley branch was first opened by National Provincial Bank of England in 1862. The bank was seeking new locations in which to trade, and the thriving town of Berkeley was an ideal choice for a new branch due to its strategic position on busy transport routes, including the Bristol and Gloucester Railway line. Premises were obtained at 16 Market Place, an attractive nineteenth century house which the bank leased from Lord Fitzhardinge, and the new Berkeley office was opened there as an agency to the bank's Dursley branch in 1862. Although the precise establishment date of the branch is not recorded, it is known to have been trading by February 1862 under the management of William Cann.

The branch proved a success and continued to thrive during the rest of the nineteenth century. The First World War brought major changes in the way banks conducted their business with branches taking on additional responsibilities and experiencing new challenges. Many skilled bank staff left to join the forces and sadly a member of the Berkeley branch staff died on active service.

During the Second World War the banks were again faced with staff shortages and controls on lending and foreign exchange. However the 1950s brought a period of rejuvenation and by 1960 the bank's Berkeley premises were no longer adequate to meet the increasing needs of its branch there. The Bristol architects Alec F French & Partners were engaged to draw up plans for refurbishing the existing building and constructing an extension to the rear, and the work was completed in 1962. Great care was taken to integrate the new extension with the design and features of the original premises, using materials which were selected to complement the existing stone and tile work.

In 1968 National Provincial Bank and Westminster Bank, along with National Provincial's subsidiary District Bank, announced their intention to merge. The operations of all three banks were combined over the following 18 months and they began to trade as National Westminster Bank from 1 January 1970.Today NatWest Berkeley branch continues to operate from its original premises at 16 Market Place.

Commenting on the celebrations, Fran Sorrell, Manager of NatWest's Berkeley Branch, said: "We are delighted to be celebrating the fact that NatWest has been operating a banking service in Berkeley 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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