Ruthin

Ruthin is a town in Wales. NatWest traces its heritage there back to 1914.

National Provincial Bank of England

NatWest’s Ruthin branch originally opened in 1914 as a branch of National Provincial Bank of England. This bank, founded in 1833, had a large network of branches in England and Wales and was actively extending its representation, often acting upon the advice of its local branch managers. In 1914 the managers of National Provincial’s branches in Manchester and Denbigh both identified Ruthin as a prime location to establish a new branch, and wrote to the bank’s board to suggest it. Accordingly, on Tuesday 22 October 1914 the bank opened a new office in Ruthin, located in a corner of the town’s famous Old Court House on St Peter’s Square. The first branch manager was Mr EG Jones, formerly accountant at the bank’s Carmarthen branch.

The Old Court House, a Grade II listed half-timbered building, dates back to between 1400 and 1404, immediately after the sack of Ruthin by Owain Glyndwr. He is said to have destroyed nearly the entire town in 1400, leaving only a few buildings such as the castle standing. The Old Court House was built, as the name suggests, as the town’s court house and prison, and operated as such until the late 17th century. The remains of the prison’s gibbet still exist. After the town’s court house moved, the building was quickly taken over by commercial businesses, latterly including a grocer and ironmonger, a butcher and a shoemaker. All of these businesses added structures to the outside of the original building, and it was in the old shoemaker’s shop that National Provincial Bank set up its branch.

The new branch - like all banks in Wales and elsewhere in the period – immediately faced huge challenges. The First World War had just begun and brought new restrictions and responsibilities for banks, as well as severe staff shortages as trained men went away to fight. At the same time, the banking sector was undergoing a transformation, with smaller banks finding it necessary to grow or merge in order to remain competitive. In 1918 National Provincial Bank of England merged with Union of London & Smiths Bank to form National Provincial & Union Bank of England, known more simply as National Provincial Bank from 1924.  

As one of three banks in Ruthin, the branch continued to prosper, so much so that the bank bought the whole Old Court House building from its owner in 1923. The bank’s in-house architect FCR Palmer removed all of the modern lean-to additions and restored the building to its 15th century structure, using locally sourced antique oak to rebuild it. In 1926 the newly-renovated branch was opened, with the bank occupying the whole building.

National Westminster Bank

In 1970 National Provincial Bank merged with Westminster Bank to create National Westminster Bank, and Ruthin became a branch of the new NatWest.