Workington is a town in England. NatWest traces its heritage there back to 1865.
Bank of Whitehaven
NatWest’s presence in Workington dates back to the opening of a branch by Bank of Whitehaven in January 1865. Since the 18th century Workington had been a thriving port, market town and industrial centre, and the expansion of the local iron and steel industry caused it to grow rapidly, also attracting a busy shipbuilding industry to the area. This growth, and the news towards the end of 1864 of an imminent potential amalgamation of two other local banks, Cumberland Union Bank and JM Head & Co, prompted the directors of Bank of Whitehaven to resolve in November 1864 to open a branch of their own in Workington.
The bank’s new office opened on Monday 2 January 1865, trading from temporary premises until the construction work was completed on a new branch building at 30 Pow Street, on a site the bank had purchased in December 1864. The new office was managed by Henry Bowes, who transferred from the bank’s Whitehaven office. The directors reported in February 1865 that ‘the amount of business already done, and the prospects of the branch, fully justify the step they have taken. A new and spacious building is in course of erection, and the contractor has undertaken to have the works sufficiently advanced to allow the removal of the business to it at the end of the present half year.’
During the early decades of the 20th century the banking sector underwent a transformation, as smaller banks were forced to grow or merge in order to remain competitive. Despite Bank of Whitehaven’s local success the company was still relatively small and in 1916, when it had nine branches and sub-branches, the bank was acquired by Manchester & Liverpool District Banking Co, known from 1924 as District Bank.
During the First World War banks took on extra responsibilities, such as the sale of war loan subscriptions, and were subject to a raft of new government controls. Shortly after the end of the war two of the emerging ‘Big Five’ high street banks also opened branches in Workington:
The first of these, London County Westminster & Parr’s Bank, opened a branch on 17 November 1919 in Victoria Buildings, on the corner of William Street and South William Street. The bank's name was shortened to Westminster Bank in 1923.
In January 1940 the branch moved to new premises on the corner of Oxford Street and Murray Road.
National Provincial Bank
Less than six months after London County Westminster & Parr's Bank began trading in Workington, National Provincial & Union Bank of England also established a branch in the town. This office, which opened on 22 April 1920, was located at 31 Pow Street, near to the premises of the District Bank branch, and from 1924 traded under the bank’s shortened title of National Provincial Bank.
In 1966 National Provincial Bank acquired District Bank, but both banks continued to trade separately.
National Westminster Bank
In 1970 National Provincial Bank and its subsidiary District Bank merged with Westminster Bank to create National Westminster Bank, and Workington branch became part of the new NatWest. The bank sought to rationalise its presence in places where it had multiple offices in close proximity. In Workington the bank had three offices in the town centre, and in 1975 they were brought together under one roof at 31 Pow Street.