Banking Through The Years, Stockton High Street
Today most of us will bank with the ‘Big Five’ banks but our ancestors who visited Stockton High Street back in the early 1800’s would not recognise any of the more recent banking names.
However in many cases whilst the names of the banks have changed the locations have not.
The earliest banks were local private banks and by law were restricted to only six partners, this resulted in many not surviving any financial problems. The law was then changed to allow the creation of larger Joint Stock Banks. However many of our ancestors would not have been customers of these early banks as in the main they were solely for the rich and merchant classes and were set up by tradesmen to allow their fellow businessmen to either get loans or to deposit their money for safe keeping. A number of the early bank partners in Stockton were also Mayors of the town so were well regarded by their neighbours.
In 2013 & 2015 a number of banknotes were sold at auction from the earliest Stockton banks. The Tees Bank was established at 105 High St (now part of Betfred) in 1785 by Henry, George, and Thomas Hutchinson & later by Thomas Place, this bank lasted 40 years until, following the failure of their London agents, their bankruptcy was announced on 8th May 1826.
Another note was for Stockton & Cleveland Bank, This bank was established in about 1774 by Benjamin Lumley, at a later date he was joined by Christopher Smith, Robert Wilkinson and George Snowden, at its demise in 1815 it was located at 124 High Street, this is now part of Nat West Bank. This bank was taken over by Messrs W Skinner & Co that same year, this was Skinners first branch, they were also known as Skinner, Atty & Holt and also Stockton & Darlington Commercial Bank, by 1836 they had been taken over by National Provincial Bank. This bank and its successor, Nat West, have occupied this same site up to day. They rebuilt in about 1877 and expanded into 123 High Street at that time.
In 1826 a Darlington Quaker, Jonathan Backhouse, who was also a backer of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, opened a new branch of Jonathan Backhouse & Sons at 49 High Street. In 1897 Backhouses Bank was one of the main banks that merged to become Barclays Bank. They remained in the approximately the same location both prior to and after the building of the Castlegate Centre.
The Stockton Almhouses had their own ‘Almhouses Savings Bank’ this was located at 23 -24 High Street which was adjacent to the Almhouses from 1849. This bank may have been created earlier but its location prior to 1849 is unknown. The bank closed in 1895 and the building was then occupied by Yorkshire Penny Bank until the 1930’s. In 1936 Newcastle upon Tyne Savings Bank moved in, they became the Northumberland & Durham Trustees Savings Bank in 1973 which in turn became TSB. When the TSB merged with Lloyds Bank the branch was closed. It is now occupied by Manners & Harrison.
Just a few doors from the above bank is the Prudential Building which for a short time between 1957-1973 was the Westminster Bank which in 1970 became National Westminster Bank.
The building now occupied by Yorkshire Bank was originally Urwins restaurant. In 1912 it was occupied by the London Joint Stock Bank which in 1919 merged with the Midland Bank. The bank changed its name to Midland Bank in 1924 but in 1931 the Midland Bank moved out and Yorkshire Penny Bank moved from its original location to occupy this corner site up to the present day.
Another early local bank occupied 136 High Street in 1859, this was the Darlington and District Joint Stock Bank, and this was taken over by York City & County Bank Ltd in 1884.
From 1910 the London Joint Stock Bank occupied this site as well as the Yorkshire Bank site. In 1931 this became the Midland Banks only remaining branch in the High Street.
The only bank building which has not changed occupation is Lloyds Bank at 27 High Street, they have been there since 1916.
On a walk down the High Street all of these buildings have building fronts which clearly identify them as banks, however another building the present ‘Goldies Bar’ still has the old bank front. Old photographs still show the name of the original bank visible along the roofline.
From 1900 this was North Eastern Bank Ltd, in 1915 this merged with Bank of Liverpool which three years later acquired Martins Bank.
The bank name was then changed to Bank of Liverpool & Martins and in 1928 this became Martins Bank.
In 1969 Barclays Bank took over Martins Bank , and changed the name to Barclays Bank, they left this second branch open for another five years and then closed it in 1974.
As can be seen the names of the banks have changed many times, from local family banks, to joint stock banks, then more familiar banking names start to appear as many of these smaller banks gradually merge to form the large banking groups. Today the changes in banking on our High Street are still continuing with the more recent change to banks of many former Building Societies, however as can be seen most of the older banking locations have survived the changes over the years and are still with us today.
Occupational History of Stockton High Street, Stockton Reference Library
A history of banks, bankers, & banking in Northumberland, Durham, and North Yorkshire, illustrating the commercial development of the north of England, from 1755 to 1894, – Maberley Philips
Research source: Picture Stockton Archive, image courtesy of Mrs Wilson.
Image Source: Picture Stockton Archive
Stories from the High Street participant: Diane Moody.
The ‘Stories…’ project is part of the Council’s wider “Grants for Heritage Buildings’ programme, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Council, to help promote awareness and understanding of the town’s heritage.
Visit www.stockton.gov.uk/grantsforheritagebuildings for further information on the project.