Hertford is a town in England. NatWest traces its heritage there back to 1839.
London & County Banking Co
NatWest’s Hertford branch was opened by London & County Banking Co in 1839. This bank had been founded only three years earlier as Surrey, Kent & Sussex Banking Co, with the purpose of establishing a network of branches in London and the South East. In March 1839 Surrey, Kent & Sussex Banking Co changed its name to London & County Banking Co, to give a better reflection of its intended geographical spread.
In the early 19th century Hertford was prospering as a market town, with the benefit of a canal link with London and a long history of trade. At the start of December 1839 it was suggested to the bank’s board that they open a branch in Hertford. They acted very quickly, commissioning a report about the town which was read at the next week’s meeting. The report said that the idea of London & County Banking Co opening a branch in Hertford ‘would meet with great encouragement from the inhabitants of that place, and the neighbourhood’. The board immediately approved the recommendation and a branch was opened in Hertford in the second half of December.
The bank quickly bought a building in Fore Street which, although in a good location, needed to be converted into premises suitable for a bank branch. In the meantime, the branch began trading from temporary premises on Bull Plain, under the management of Mr JW Chesshyre. Early in 1840 Hertford branch moved into its new building at 104 Fore Street – the premises it still occupies 175 years later. JW Chesshyre went on to manage the branch for 37 years, during which time Hertford continued to grow. By the time he retired in 1877, Hertford was thriving.
During the early years of the 20th 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 to create what was then one of Britain’s largest banks, London County & Westminster Bank.
When the First World War began in 1914, Hertford branch was required to deal with extra responsibilities, such as the sale of war loan subscriptions, and a raft of government controls. The war affected the branch more personally, too; a member of its staff, Sidney Nelson Stenning, was killed in France in March 1918.
In 1918 London County & Westminster Bank merged with Parr’s Bank, becoming London County Westminster & Parr’s Bank. The new bank had 700 branches and in 1923 its long title was shortened to Westminster Bank. By this point the bank was one of the emerging ‘Big Five’ high street banks.
National Westminster Bank
In 1968 Westminster Bank and National Provincial Bank, along with National Provincial's subsidiary District Bank, announced their intention to merge. The operations of all three banks were combined over the following 18 months and they began to trade as National Westminster Bank from 1 January 1970.