Bridport is a town in England. NatWest traces its heritage there back to 1914.
NatWest’s Bridport branch opened in May 1914 as a branch of Parr’s Bank. Originally founded as Parr & Co in 1788, this bank was continually on the look-out for new locations in which to trade. Bridport, with its long history of rope-making and the associated industry, was an ideal location for the growing bank to open a branch. The new Bridport branch opened on 11 May 1914, and despite there being branches of two other banks in the town, the Parr’s branch flourished from the outset.
The new branch was opened at 53 East Street and managed by Mr F E Nutt. As the First World War started just months after it opened, Bridport branch was soon required to deal with extra responsibilities, such as the sale of war loan subscriptions, and a raft of government controls. Nonetheless, it was an immediate success and just three years after it opened the branch was moved to premises at 22 East Street which were not only larger, but were better designed for banking. This building had been occupied by the Bridport branch of Lloyds Bank, so was perfectly suited to the branch’s needs, coming with a banking counter and a strong room already installed.
During the First World War the banking sector was undergoing a transformation, with smaller banks being forced to grow or merge in order to remain competitive. As a result of this, Parr’s Bank merged with London County & Westminster Bank in 1918, becoming London County Westminster & Parr’s Bank. This name was shortened to Westminster Bank in 1924.
The outbreak of the Second World War soon ushered in a period of shortages, with constraints on foreign exchange and lending. As men left to serve in the forces banks had to adapt. Bridport branch of Westminster Bank had to cope with a direct effect of the Second World War in December 1942. In the early afternoon of the 16th of December a 1000lb German bomb was dropped on East Street, landing in the entrance hall of Bridport branch. The bomb did not explode, however. The branch and, in fact, the whole street were evacuated in case the bomb was to go off. A bomb disposal team arrived the next morning and defused it. The Westminster Bank branch staff worked in the nearby Lloyds branch for a couple of days while the bomb damage was cleared away and the branch made usable again. The pillar to the right hand side of the branch’s door was destroyed by the bomb, and rebuilt in 1950.
National Westminster Bank
NatWest Bridport remains at 22 East Street today.