Louth

Louth is a town in England. NatWest traces its heritage there back to 1914.

Union of London & Smiths Bank

NatWest’s Louth branch was originally opened by Union of London & Smith Bank in 1914. This bank had been established in 1839, and by the start of the 20th century was rapidly expanding its presence throughout the country, with a network of 175 offices by 1908. It had established an office in Grimsby in 1905, and was looking to expand locally. The recent growth of the nearby market town of Louth soon caught its attention, and on 3 April 1914 it opened a new agency there under the management of George Haxby. Confident that the agency would be a success, the bank secured a seven year lease of premises at 22 Mercer Row.

Just a few months later the country was at war, and its profound effects were soon felt in the town, as many local men joined up. Banks experienced new wartime restrictions and responsibilities, as well as severe staff shortages. At the same time, the banking sector was undergoing a transformation, with smaller banks being forced to grow or merge in order to remain competitive. Despite its continued rapid expansion, operating over 230 offices by 1918, Union of London and Smiths Bank faced increasing competition. As a result, it merged in that year with National Provincial Bank of England to form National Provincial & Union Bank of England, known more simply as National Provincial Bank from 1924. By that time the company was one of the emerging ‘Big Five’ high street banks.

National Provincial Bank

At Louth the bank’s business continued to expand. In 1919 the bank purchased new branch premises at 9-11 Market Place. A year later Louth suffered a devastating flood which destroyed large areas of the town and resulted in the deaths of 23 people. The flood also contributed to the closure of the canal, which had originally opened in 1770. Nevertheless the town recovered during the 1920s. New council houses were built, and in 1935 the streets were lit by electricity for the first time.

The outbreak of the Second World War ushered in a period of shortages, with constraints on foreign exchange and lending. Louth itself suffered considerable bomb damage in air raids.

In the post-war years the town began to develop once again as prosperity returned to the area.

National Westminster Bank

In 1970 National Provincial Bank merged with Westminster Bank to create National Westminster Bank, and Louth became a branch of the new NatWest. The branch business continued to grow, and in order to extend the branch, in 1979 the bank purchased neighbouring premises at 2/4 Cornmarket, which were rebuilt in the style of the original building, and remain the home of NatWest Louth today.