Warrington is a town in England. NatWest traces its heritage there back to 1788.
Parr & Co
NatWest’s history in Warrington dates back to the establishment of the private bank of Parr & Co there in 1788. At that time Warrington was crying out for banking services. The town had grown quickly following the opening up of the Mersey navigation. Manufacturing industries such as steel, textiles, brewing, tanning and chemicals sprang up in the area, and such businesses needed banks. Parr & Co was founded by three local businessmen: Joseph Parr, a sugar refiner; Thomas Lyon, a brewer and sugar refiner; and Walter Kerfoot, an attorney. Their bank was the first in Warrington.
The first entries in Parr & Co's oldest surviving ledger are dated 25 August 1788. A letter sent by Joseph Parr to potential customers in Wigan on 29 September notes: ‘We have now begun our banking business and when it suits your convenience shall be happy to open an account with you.’ From the outset, the bank was located in Winwick Street.
The new bank was called Parr, Lyon & Greenall from 1825 to 1851 and Parr, Lyon & Co from 1855 to 1865. It was also known more simply as Warrington Bank. Branches were opened in St Helens (1839) and Runcorn (1853).
Parr's Banking Co Ltd
In 1865 the bank's partners decided to convert the firm to a shareholder-owned joint stock bank, called Parr’s Banking Co Ltd. The Warrington Guardian commented at the time: ‘We think the step thus taken is another proof of that business shrewdness and foresight which has made the Warrington Bank rank so high for many years’.
The bank continued to grow alongside the town itself. Many of Warrington’s landmark buildings were constructed around this time, including the museum and library in 1857, the public hall and baths in 1866 and the town hall in 1867.
With shareholder funding behind it, the bank soon looked further afield and during the next 50 years acquired a succession of other banks, in Northwich, Wigan, Chester, Leek, London, Liverpool, Oswestry, Manchester, Derby, Ashton-under-Lyne, Isle of Man, Leicester, Whitehaven, the Channel Islands, Taunton and Bedford.
In 1877, to provide more spacious and suitable accommodation in Warrington, a purpose-built banking house was opened in Winwick Street, designed by Thomas Beesley. These premises continued to serve as the bank’s head office until 1892, when Parr's amalgamated with the London-based Alliance Bank which had prestigious premises in Lombard Street in the heart of the capital, and these became the bank's principal office.
Into the 20th century
In 1892 the bank became known as Parr’s Banking Co & Alliance Bank. By 1890 it had 43 branches and sub-branches, rising to 136 in 1900 and to 329 by 1918. In 1896 the company’s name was abbreviated to Parr’s Bank.
Following the First World War the bank faced increasing competition. Comparatively small or regional banks found it harder to compete, and so in 1918 Parr’s Bank amalgamated with London County & Westminster Bank to form London County Westminster & Parr’s Bank, later known more simply as Westminster Bank.
National Westminster Bank
In 1970 Westminster Bank merged with National Provincial Bank and its subsidiary District Bank to form National Westminster Bank. The latter two had also operated their own branches in Warrington - District Bank since 1831 and National Provincial Bank since 1890. Following the merger the branches of all three banks became part of the new NatWest.
In 1994 the former District and National Provincial branches were brought together under one roof in Sankey Street, where the District branch had been located, and in 2015 the business of the Winwick Street branch was also transferred to Sankey Street.