Bank of England's Western Branch

The Bank of England's Western Branch (1855-1930) was a past constituent of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Brief history

This branch bank was established as an office of the Bank of England. The Bank of England already had a number of branches throughout the country when, in the 1850s, it decided to provide a branch in the West End of London for the convenience of customers in new residential areas such as Belgravia, which were developing at a distance from the City.

The bank bought Uxbridge House, an 18th century mansion, from the executors of Henry William Paget, 1st Marquis of Anglesey, and adapted the building to accommodate banking offices and residential quarters. The branch, known as Western Branch, opened in 1855 and was an immediate success, attracting many customers who had suffered through the failure of small private banks and were glad to put their trust in a bank with a more solid reputation. By the late 1870s the growth of the business demanded extensive alterations to the premises, including the conversion of upper rooms into offices and enlargement of the banking hall.

Fifty years later, however, British banking had been transformed by the growth of large clearing banks with national branch networks. The Bank of England, meanwhile, had become more focussed on its role as banker to the government and to other banks. Western branch, which primarily handled private accounts, was engaged in a kind of business that the Bank of England no longer wanted to undertake. In 1929, with recession biting hard, the branch made a loss for the first time since its establishment.

In 1930 the Bank of England sold the business to the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Published history

  • Western Branch of The Royal Bank of Scotland: The Story of a Bank and its Building (Edinburgh: privately published by the Royal Bank of Scotland, 1993)

Summary of our archive holdings

Our archival records of Western Branch of the Bank of England have the reference code RBS/B16.

For help understanding words used here, check our glossary of banking record types (PDF 68 KB).

  • customer memoranda book 1855-1862
  • agents’ letterbooks 1858-1877, 1885-1898
  • remembrancers 1875-1882
  • opinion book 1881-1888
  • deposition of witnesses re forgery 1873
  • circular re takeover by The Royal Bank of Scotland 1930
  • memoranda re share transactions 1897-1898

Summary of archive holdings elsewhere

  • The Bank of England Archive: Freshfields’ papers re purchase of the branch property, incl plan of ground floor 1855 (Ref: F1/62); branch banking ledgers 1855-1930 (Ref: C124); branch correspondence books 1855-1929 (Ref: C150); branch private ledgers 1856-1898 (Ref: C135/30-40); records re branch safe custody boxes 1858-1929 (Ref: C135/5-26); branch securities ledgers 1863-1928 (Ref: C135/56-106); branch banks office correspondence with Western Branch on general banking matters 1868-1872 (Ref: C7/21); Freshfields’ papers re Warren forgeries case 1871-1882 (Ref: F5); branch banks office file re The Royal Bank of Scotland’s takeover of Western Branch 1887-1961 (Ref: C79/85); discount ledgers 1889-1922 (Ref: C135/28-29); branch general ledgers 1898-1930 (Ref: C135/41-46); branch bill ledgers 1911-1928 (Ref: C135/1-4); banknote circulation books incl figures for Western Branch 1911-1921 (Ref: C96/188-189); building plans 1912, 1928 (Ref: E19/387-388); branch private loan ledgers 1913-1915 (Ref: C135/53-55); work of offices file re proposed closure of Law Courts Branch and closure of Western Branch and sale to the Royal Bank of Scotland 1930-1974 (Ref: C56/48); cashier’s department correspondence with customers re closure of Western Branch and alternative arrangements for customers 1930-1933 (Ref: C5/95)