Kettering is a town in England. NatWest traces its heritage there back to 1890.
Northamptonshire Union Bank
NatWest’s Kettering branch was originally opened by Northamptonshire Union Bank in 1890. This bank had been established in Northampton in 1836 as a joint stock bank – a bank owned by a large number of shareholders rather than a few partners – as a reconstruction of the private banking business of John & Samuel Percival, which had been founded around 40 years earlier.
A thriving market town, Kettering underwent rapid expansion and urbanisation during the 19th century due to the success of its boot and shoe industry. With the arrival of the railway in 1857 the town’s economy diversified, and engineering and clothing businesses also developed there. In 1891 the town was home to nearly 19,500 people, compared with just over 3,000 in 1801.
Kettering was an ideal place in which to establish a bank branch, and Northamptonshire Union Bank’s new office opened in the town in February 1890. The branch was managed by WA Rubbra, who transferred from the bank’s Wellingborough branch to take on his new role. It traded initially from Post Office Buildings in Gold Street, the site of which now forms part of the Newland Shopping Centre.
Within a decade it was clear that larger accommodation was needed to house the branch's growing business. In 1901 the bank purchased a site on Kettering High Street on which a purpose-built branch building and manager’s house were erected to designs by the local architects Blackwell and Thomson.
During the First World War banks were affected by staff shortages and controls on lending. Many staff left to join up. One man from Kettering branch, William John Peirce Woods, was killed in action in 1916.
In 1919 London County Westminster & Parr's Bank, one of the emerging ‘Big Five’ high street banks, also established a presence in the town. The new branch opened on 26 May 1919 at 41 Newland Street and from 1923 it traded under the bank's shortened name of Westminster Bank.
National Provincial Bank
Banks also faced increasing competition in the early decades of the 20th century and were forced to grow in order to compete. In 1920, when it had 25 local offices, Northamptonshire Union Bank merged with National Provincial & Union Bank of England, another of the ‘Big Five’ banks, which later became known simply as National Provincial Bank.
The Second World War brought similar difficulties to those experienced in 1914-1918, as bank staff joined the forces and controls were again imposed on lending and foreign exchange. In the post-war years, as prosperity returned, National Provincial Bank continued to grow, opening new branches and, in 1962, acquiring the substantial business of District Bank, which continued to trade under its own name.
National Westminster Bank
In 1970 National Westminster Bank was formed by the merger of National Provincial Bank and District Bank with Westminster Bank. The new bank sought to rationalise its presence in places where it had multiple offices, and in 1973 its branches in Kettering town centre were brought together under one roof in the former National Provincial Bank premises at 16 High Street.