Crawley is a town in England. NatWest traces its heritage there back to 1864.
London & County Banking Co
NatWest’s Crawley branch was originally opened in November 1864 by London & County Banking Co as a sub-branch to its Horsham office. This bank had originally been founded as Surrey, Kent & Sussex Banking Co in 1836, with the purpose of establishing a network of branches in London and the south-east.
In the early nineteenth century Crawley was a small but thriving coaching town which benefitted from the opening in 1841 of a station in the nearby hamlet of Three Bridges on the main London to Brighton railway line, followed in 1848 by the arrival of the railway in Crawley itself. By the early 1860s Crawley was an ideal place in which to open a bank branch, and when London & County’s new sub-branch opened there on 22 November 1864 it initially operated one day a week, on Thursdays. In July 1897 the branch's trading hours were extended, from two days a week to opening daily. At the same time it moved into newly built premises at 14 High Street, designed by the London-based and Horsham-resident architect Frederick Wheeler, who designed a number of branch buildings for the bank, including the bank’s premises in Horsham. From October 1901 the Crawley office became independent of Horsham branch, under its own manager, SA Pocock.
By the outbreak of the First World War, Crawley was a prosperous town, serving a wide rural area with passing trade on the route between London and Brighton.
During the early years of the century the banking sector was undergoing a transformation, as smaller banks were forced to grow or merge in order to remain competitive. In 1909, when it had around 270 branches, London & County Bank amalgamated with London & Westminster Bank to form London County & Westminster Bank, known from 1924 as Westminster Bank, one of the emerging ‘Big Five’ high street banks.
In the post-war years Crawley’s growth accelerated dramatically following its designation in 1947 as a new town as part of a wider government initiative to encourage people and jobs to move out of London. New residential, commercial, industrial and civic areas were established, and this rapid development greatly increased the physical extent and population of the town over the next few decades. Westminster Bank’s Crawley branch responded by pro-actively contacting new factories and shops as they moved to the town, an approach that brought in much new business for the bank, which also opened a sub-branch on the industrial estate at Manor Royal in 1952.
During the 1950s the town centre was substantially redeveloped, and in June 1957 Westminster Bank relocated its main Crawley branch from 14 High Street to new, modern premises at 16/18 The Boulevard in the main shopping area. In 1958 Gatwick airport, formerly a relatively small private airfield, re-opened as London’s second airport, stimulating further local industrial and commercial development.
National Provincial Bank
On 9 October 1952 National Provincial Bank opened its own branch in Crawley, at 101 High Street, and ten years later, in 1962, also established a sub-branch at Manor Royal.
National Westminster Bank
In 1970 Westminster Bank and National Provincial Bank merged to form National Westminster Bank. The former Westminster Bank office was renamed as Crawley the Boulevard branch, and it was there that NatWest’s business in the town centre was brought together under one roof in 1992.
NatWest Crawley continues to operate from its premises at 16/18 The Boulevard.