Scarborough

Scarborough is a town in England. NatWest traces its heritage there back to 1890.

London & Yorkshire Bank

NatWest’s presence in Scarborough dates back to the opening of a branch by London & Yorkshire Bank in January 1890. This joint stock bank had been established in London in 1872, and by the end of 1889 had 17 branches, almost all of which were in Yorkshire. Since the 18th century Scarborough had been a flourishing tourist destination due to its popularity as a spa town. The opening of a railway line to York in 1845 brought a tide of visitors to the area, and Scarborough became a thriving seaside resort. The town’s population grew accordingly, from just over 10,000 inhabitants in 1841 to nearly 34,000 in 1891.

The bank’s new office opened on Wednesday 1 January 1890, trading from temporary premises at 1 Westborough, until the alteration works were completed on a new branch building at 2 Huntriss Row. The new office was managed by F Rawlins Giddy, who had previously been employed by York Union Banking Company. In 1894 London & Yorkshire Bank opened an additional branch in the town, located on Ramshill Road and known as South Cliff branch. In a surviving early 20th century letterbook the Scarborough branch manager Mr Hill gives an interesting insight into how the seasonal economy of Scarborough affected the town and its banks. In 1904 he wrote 'I cannot say the trade of the town is increasing fast but it will depend on the ensuing season being a good one. The tramways being finished and in working order may be expected to improve the situation.' Electric trams ran in Scarborough from that year until 1931.

Beckett & Co

In 1899 Beckett & Co, also known as York & East Riding Bank, opened a branch in the town, at 38 St Nicholas Street. This bank had its origins in a bank established in Hull in 1790, and had gradually built up a small regional branch network.

Into the 20th century

During the early decades of the 20th century the banking sector underwent a transformation, as banks were forced to grow or merge in order to remain competitive. Despite their local success, both London & Yorkshire Bank and Beckett & Co were acquired by much larger banks. In 1903, when it had a paid up capital of £325,000 and 46 branches, London & Yorkshire Bank was purchased by Union of London & Smiths Bank, which in turn merged with National Provincial Bank of England in 1918 to become National Provincial & Union Bank of England. The bank shortened its name to National Provincial Bank in 1924, by which time it was one of the emerging ‘Big Five’ high street banks.

In 1921 Beckett & Co was acquired by London County Westminster & Parr's Bank, known from 1923 as Westminster Bank, another of the new 'Big Five'.

During the First World War Scarborough’s economy suffered badly. On 16 December 1914 the town was subject to a German naval bombardment which greatly affected the town and its population. In June 1915 the manager of Scarborough branch of Union of London & Smiths Bank wrote dismally that the town probably would not have any visitors that year and that government compensation for damage to property during the bombardment had not yet been received. By 1918 the local situation was such that the bank’s South Cliff branch’s opening hours were reduced to two days a week until the end of the war. In April 1918 Alec John Reed, a clerk from the bank’s Scarborough branch, lost his life as a result of injuries received in action on the Somme.

After the war Scarborough recovered, but the outbreak of the Second World War soon ushered in a period of shortages, with constraints on foreign exchange and lending.

Scarborough prospered again during the 1950s and 1960s, and in 1952 Westminster Bank opened a South Cliff branch in Ramshill Road. In 1965 the address of National Provincial Bank’s Huntriss Row premises changed to 3 & 4 Westborough.

National Westminster Bank

In 1970 National Westminster Bank was formed through the amalgamation of National Provincial Bank with Westminster Bank. Over the next few decades the bank rationalised its presence in places such as Scarborough where it had multiple offices and by 1997 its business in Scarborough had been brought together under one roof in the Westborough premises.