Gravesend

Gravesend is a town in England. NatWest traces its heritage there back to 1837.

Surrey, Kent & Sussex Banking Co

NatWest’s Gravesend branch first opened as a branch of Surrey, Kent & Sussex Banking Co in 1837. This joint-stock bank had been established in Southwark the previous year, and immediately made arrangements to start opening branches in London and the south-east of England.

At this time Gravesend was a rapidly expanding coaching and market town serving the local agricultural district, and also a boundary port on the Thames, with fishing and boat building industries. With the introduction of steam boats in the early nineteenth century Gravesend flourished as a popular resort town within easy reach of London, and in the first four decades of the century the population of Gravesend and Milton tripled. This growth attracted the attention of the directors of Surrey, Kent and Sussex Banking Co, and on 22 November they opened an office at 17 High Street under the charge of an agent, William Newman. The new office traded daily from 9am to 5pm, and on 1 December 1837 George Sturt was appointed as the branch’s first manager.

London & County Bank

In 1850, by which time the bank's name had become London & County Bank, a major fire destroyed the bank premises and 20 nearby houses. Neighbours and the coastguard helped to rescue all of the bank’s property, which was taken to safety at Tilbury Fort. The branch manager arranged for the immediate resumption of the bank’s business in temporary rented premises at 9 The Terrace and almost a year later the branch moved into newly-built premises at 16 High Street.

The bank’s only competitor in Gravesend ceased trading in 1857, and in 1864 the branch moved to more spacious newly-built premises on the site of the Freemason’s Tavern at 24 High Street.

In 1901 the branch relocated to its current premises, designed by the London architect Alfred Williams, on the corner of King Street and Windmill Street. Formerly occupied by the St Thomas’ Almshouses, the site was described at the time as being ‘the best position in the town’.

In 1909 London & County Bank merged with London & Westminster Bank to form London, County & Westminster Bank, which from 1923 was known more simply as Westminster Bank.

During both World Wars banks took on additional responsibilities and experienced new challenges at the same time as they coped with staff shortages caused by bank workers joining the armed forces. During the Second World War one member of staff from Gravesend branch was killed on active service.

In the early 1960s the Gravesend branch premises were extended and the interior modernised.

National Westminster Bank

In 1970 Westminster Bank merged with National Provincial Bank to form National Westminster Bank. In Gravesend, the new Bank now had two branches, because National Provincial had also had a branch in the town, open since 1930 and located at 146 Milton Road. NatWest renamed the two branches Gravesend King Street and Gravesend Clock Tower.

In 1992 the businesses of both branches were brought together under one roof in the King Street premises, from which Gravesend branch continues to operate today.