Bournemouth is a town in England. NatWest traces its heritage there back to 1866.
National Provincial Bank of England
Bournemouth was founded by Lewis Tregonwell in 1810. By 1866 it was a thriving town served by two banks, but in May that year one of them - a branch of English Joint Stock Bank - collapsed, leaving customers without the banking services on which they depended.
National Provincial Bank of England saw an opportunity in the crisis. It already had more than 120 offices across England and Wales, including one in nearby Poole. The manager there, knowing that his bank was keen to expand its network still further, immediately started making arrangements to open an office in Bournemouth, with the intention of picking up English Joint Stock Bank's former customers in the town.
He found temporary accommodation on South Bourne Terrace and the branch opened on 26 May 1866, initially for just three days a week. The branch began to open on a daily basis from 14 March 1867 and moved into the former premises of the English Joint Stock Bank branch later that year.
Growing and thriving
Bournemouth's growth was accelerated by the arrival of the railway in 1870, and the town became firmly established as a tourist destination. The visitors, as well as the local businesses that served them, needed banking facilities, so the bank also thrived. Before long it was clear that new premises were needed. In 1877 the branch moved to 2 Old Christchurch Road, just off The Square.
By the early years of the 20th century Bournemouth was still growing, and more banks were opening up in the town. Among them was London & County Banking Co, which opened its Bournemouth branch at Post Office Corner in July 1907. Two years later that bank merged with London & Westminster Bank to become London County & Westminster Bank. After a succession of further mergers in the next 15 years it became one of the biggest banks in England, known from 1923 as Westminster Bank.
Despite increased competition, National Provincial Bank's Bournemouth branch continued to expand. In 1907-1908 the premises at 2 Old Christchurch Road were extended to the rear to accommodate the growing demands of business.
In 1920 the former Empress Hotel next door was put up for sale. Its excellent location, facing onto The Square, made the bank keen to utilise the building. It bought the freehold and over the next decade the branch was gradually extended into the corner site, where it still remains today.
The Second World War brought great challenges to Bournemouth. The seafront was closed and strewn with barbed wire, the population was swollen by evacuees from bombed cities and refugees from occupied Europe and the town itself suffered around 50 air raids.
Like many seaside resorts, Bournemouth saw a decline in its tourism trade in the post-war years, but the town itself continued to grow, and demand for bank services remained buoyant. In 1962 National Provincial Bank bought its smaller competitor District Bank, but the two continued to trade separately, including in Bournemouth, where District Bank had operated a branch since 1938.
In 1970 both National Provincial Bank and its subsidiary District Bank merged with Westminster Bank to create National Westminster Bank, and the branches of all three banks became part of the new NatWest. During the 1980s the bank's branch representation in Bournemouth was reorganised and brought under one roof in its longest-standing Bournemouth premises, on The Square.