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175 years in Wolverhampton is something to be banked on

NatWest staff from the Wolverhampton Queen Square branch made it a day to remember today, as they celebrated 175 years of banking locally by putting on their posh frocks, decorating the branch with birthday banners and balloons, cutting a cake and providing refreshments for their customers.

The team at the branch also used the day to talk about NatWest Wolverhampton Queen Square both past and present, and handed out specially produced leaflets to mark the occasion.

The origins of NatWest's Queen Square branch stretch back as far as September 1836, with the formation of the Bilston District Banking Company. The bank was established in Bilston in 1836 as one of a new breed of 'joint stock' banks owned not by a few wealthy individuals but by a large number of local people who had thought up the idea and invested in it. The Bilston District Banking Company opened for business for the first time in September 1836, in temporary premises in a house in Mount Pleasant, Bilston. The first manager was Samuel Nook, who had gained his experience as cashier of a joint stock bank formed two years earlier in Stourbridge. The new bank was an immediate success and moved to larger, more suitable premises in Church Street, Bilston, in May 1837.

A few years later, in 1844, the growing bank moved to Lock Street, in Wolverhampton, in order to reduce overheads and further increase its business. The move proved a success and larger premises in Queen Square were acquired by 1863.

Ten years later the bank changed its name to the County of Stafford Bank Ltd, to reflect the new emphasis of its business and its recent adoption of limited liability status.

By the late 1890s the days of small local banks were drawing to a close with the emergence of large London-based banks with national branch networks. In 1899 County of Stafford Bank was acquired by the much bigger National Provincial Bank of England and the business became known as that bank's Wolverhampton branch. Under National Provincial Bank's ownership the business flourished and in 1914 its premises were rebuilt on a grand scale to the designs of architects Bromley & Watkins. The branch still occupies this attractive building today which is listed as being of particular architectural merit.

In 1968 National Provincial Bank and Westminster Bank, along with National Provincial's subsidiary District Bank, announced their intention to merge as National Westminster Bank in 1970. Westminster Bank and District Bank both had offices in Wolverhampton, and two branches were closed as part of the post merger rationalisation of the new bank's representation in the city.

Today, Wolverhampton Queen Square branch remains as important as ever for NatWest and, they can now boast 175 years of proud banking heritage in the local area.

Gavin Owens, the manager at NatWest's Wolverhampton Queen Square branch, said: " We are really proud of our association with Wolverhampton and these celebrations have given my staff an excellent opportunity to talk to our customers about NatWest both past and present. When Samuel Nook opened the branch in Bilston in 1836 he wanted it to be a very important part of the local area, supporting both private and business customers, and this idea has continued to thrive over the last 175 years. We want to thank all of our customers and members of the local community for joining in with the fun today and for celebrating not only our past, but also our future."

Key historic dates for NatWest Wolverhampton Queen Square branch:

  • 1836 - Bilston District Banking Company is formed
  • September 1836 - The branch is opened in Mount Pleasant, Bilston
  • September 1836 - Samuel Nook is appointed manager
  • May 1837 - The bank moves to Church Street, Bilston
  • 1844 - The bank moves to Lock Street, Wolverhampton
  • 1863 - New premises were acquired in Queen Square Wolverhampton
  • 1873 - The bank changed its name to the County of Stafford Bank Ltd
  • 1899 - The bank was acquired by National Provincial Bank of England
  • 1970 - Bank merged with the Westminster Bank to form the National Westminster Bank
  • 2011 - NatWest celebrates 175 of banking business locally

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