Guildford

Guildford is a town in England. NatWest traces its heritage there back to 1862.

London & County Bank

NatWest’s Guildford branch first opened as a branch of London & County Banking Co in 1862. Originally founded as Surrey, Kent & Sussex Banking Co in 1836, this bank had immediately started establishing a network of branches in London and surrounding counties. By the time Guildford branch opened in 1862, it had 120 branches.

Guildford was a thriving county town serving a surrounding agricultural district. Its economy had been boosted by the arrival of the railway in 1845. By the early 1860s Guildford was the only large town in Surrey in which London & County Bank had no representation. The bank rectified that situation on 9 June 1862, opening a branch in rented premises at 54 High Street. The new office was managed by JT Edwards, formerly manager of the bank’s Farnham branch, and was an immediate success. Within a few years it moved into larger premises at 49 High Street.

The branch’s business continued to grow, so in 1885 the bank bought a former shop at 33-34 High Street, next to the Guildhall. It erected new purpose-built premises there, designed by the Beckenham architect WG Bartleet, who was responsible for a number of other branch buildings for the bank. The building opened in 1886. Guildford High Street was later renumbered, and this building became 135 High Street.

In 1909 London & County Bank merged with London & Westminster Bank to form London, County & Westminster Bank, later (from 1923) known as Westminster Bank.

In 1930 Guildford branch was extended with a new ground floor frontage. In the late 1950s and early 1960s the premises were further extended and modernised, doubling the branch accommodation.

More branches

In the twentieth century other banks opened in Guildford, including two that - along with Westminster Bank - went on to become founding constituents of National Westminster Bank.

The first of these was National Provincial Bank of England, which opened its Guildford branch in 1922. In 1935 it moved to 151 High Street, where the Crown Family Hotel had formerly been located. In recognition of the building’s heritage, a crown sign is still displayed on its façade, although the original decayed wooden crown was replaced in the 1980s with a fibreglass version.

In 1960 District Bank opened a branch at 237 High Street. Two years later District Bank was acquired by National Provincial Bank, but the two banks continued trading separately.

National Westminster Bank

In 1970 Westminster Bank merged with National Provincial Bank and its subsidiary District Bank to form National Westminster Bank. In Guildford, the merged bank now had three branches, located at 135, 151 and 237 High Street.

In 1994 all three branches were brought together under one roof, initially at 135 High Street. The following year, after refurbishments had been completed, the branch moved to 151 High Street, where it remains today.