Our First World War banks

This site explores the war from the perspective of 30 historic banks that have come together since 1914 to form today's NatWest Group. 

Some of those 30 banks are still current businesses today, such as Ulster Bank, Isle of Man Bank, Coutts & Co and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Others merged in later decades to form what became NatWest, or were acquired by one or other of our constituent banks.  

Bank of Whitehaven

This shareholder-owned bank was established in Whitehaven in 1837. It was acquired by Manchester & Liverpool District Banking Co in 1916, so eventually became part of NatWest.

Beckett & Co

This Leeds-based private bank was founded in 1774. By the First World War it had around 17 branches in the Yorkshire region. It was acquired by London County Westminster & Parr’s Bank in 1921, so eventually became part of NatWest.

Bradford District Bank 

This shareholder-owned bank was established in 1862 by local woollen manufacturers. It grew by acquiring another bank and opening branches in the region. In 1918, when it was taken over by National Provincial & Union Bank of England, it had 10 branches and 4 sub-branches. Through National Provincial, it eventually became part of NatWest.

Child & Co

This London private bank traced its origins to a London goldsmith’s business that branched out into banking in the 1640s. In 1924 it was acquired by Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co, so eventually became part of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Commercial Bank of Scotland

This bank was founded in Edinburgh in 1810, and by 1914 had 176 branches. In 1959 it merged with National Bank of Scotland, creating a new bank that joined the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1969.

Coutts & Co

Coutts & Co was founded by a Scottish goldsmith in London’s Strand in 1692. In 1914, on the eve of the war, it acquired the banking house of Robarts, Lubbock & Co. Coutts & Co was acquired by National Provincial & Union Bank of England in 1920, but has continued to trade independently to the present day.

Crompton & Evans' Union Bank

This joint stock bank was established in 1877 to bring together three separate existing banks in Derby and Chesterfield. By early 1914, when it was itself taken over by Parr’s Bank, it had 18 branches and 28 sub-branches. It eventually became part of NatWest.

Drummonds

Drummonds was founded by a Scottish goldsmith in 1717 and traded from Charing Cross, London. It was acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1924 but remains a separate brand to this day.

Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co

This private bank was founded in London’s Lombard Street in 1757. It grew quickly, developing a large business as London agent to many English and Welsh provincial banks and providing banking services to over 200 railway companies. It was acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1939.

Guernsey Banking Co

This shareholder-owned bank was established in St Peter Port in 1827. It was acquired by National Provincial & Union Bank of England in 1924, so eventually became part of NatWest.

Holt & Co

This army agency was founded in London in about 1809. During the First World War it handled the pay of 35,000 army officers and also acquired Woodhead & Co, a naval agency. In 1923 it was taken over by Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co, so eventually became part of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Isle of Man Banking Co

This joint stock bank was established in Douglas, Isle of Man in 1865 and by 1914 had 8 branches. In 1926 it was renamed Isle of Man Bank. In 1961 it was acquired by National Provincial Bank (later part of NatWest) but continued to trade separately, and still does so today.

London County & Westminster Bank

This joint stock bank was established in 1836 and grew very quickly by opening branches and acquiring other banks in the South East. It created its own overseas bank in 1913 and in 1917 acquired Ulster Bank. By 1918, when it merged with Parr’s Bank to become London County Westminster & Parr’s Bank, it had 700 branches and was one of Britain’s largest banks. Its name was shortened to Westminster Bank in 1923. It was one of the banks that joined to become National Westminster Bank in 1970.

London County & Westminster Bank (Paris)

This overseas bank was formed in 1913 as a subsidiary of London County & Westminster Bank with a main branch in Paris, although its head office was always in London. During the First World War the bank opened several new branches in France and Spain. It merged fully with NatWest in 1989.

Manchester & County Bank

This bank was founded in 1862 and by 1914 had 67 branches and 50 sub-branches. It was acquired by District Bank in 1935, so eventually became part of NatWest.

Manchester & Liverpool District Banking Co

Established in 1829, this shareholder-owned bank grew quickly in north west England by opening new branches and acquiring other banks. In 1914 it had 212 branches and sub-branches and continued to grow during the war, acquiring Bank of Whitehaven in 1915. It was acquired by National Provincial Bank in 1962, so eventually became part of NatWest.

The National Bank

This bank was established in London in 1835 to provide capital for Irish economic development. Its banking business was initially confined to Ireland but it later also opened branches in England and Wales. By 1914 it had 150 branches and sub-branches, of which 135 were in Ireland. In 1966 the bank’s Irish business passed to Bank of Ireland and the company and its English and Welsh branches passed to National Commercial Bank of Scotland, later becoming part of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

National Bank of Scotland

This bank was founded in Edinburgh in 1825. By 1914 it had 124 branches and 5 sub-branches and was the second largest bank in Scotland. In 1918, building on an existing foreign exchange connection, it was acquired by Lloyds Bank but remained entirely separate. In 1959 it merged with Commercial Bank of Scotland, ending the Lloyds connection and creating a new bank that joined the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1969.

National Provincial Bank of England

This joint stock bank was established in London in 1833, and by 1918 had over 450 branches. In that year it merged with Union of London & Smiths Bank and was renamed National Provincial & Union Bank of England. The new bank had over 700 branches. Its name was shortened to National Provincial Bank in 1924. It was one of the banks that joined to become NatWest in 1970.

Northamptonshire Union Bank

This shareholder-owned bank was established in 1836 as a reconstruction of the private bank of John & Samuel Percival (established c.1796). In 1920, when the bank was acquired by National Provincial & Union Bank of England, it had 25 branches and sub-branches in the Northamptonshire area. As part of National Provincial, it went on to become part of NatWest.

Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Banking Co

This joint stock bank was established in 1834. By 1911 it had almost 30 branches. Just after the war, in 1919, it was acquired by London County Westminster & Parr’s Bank, so eventually became part of NatWest.

Parr's Bank

This bank was established in Warrington in 1788 by local businessmen, but later became a shareholder-owned bank. By 1918, when it was acquired by London County & Westminster Bank, it had 235 branches and 94 sub-branches. As part of Westminster Bank, it later became part of NatWest.

Robarts, Lubbock & Co

This private bank was established in London in 1772. In July 1914, just weeks before the outbreak of war, it was acquired by Coutts & Co. 

Royal Bank of Scotland

This bank was founded by royal charter in Edinburgh in 1727. In 1914 it had 162 branches and employed around 900 staff, and although it had had an office in London for 50 years it had no other branches south of the border.

Sheffield Banking Co

This joint stock bank was established in 1831. By 1913 it had 32 branches and sub-branches. Just after the war, in 1919, it was acquired by National Provincial & Union Bank of England, so eventually became part of NatWest.

Stilwell & Sons

This naval agency traces its origins to a merchant trader who operated next to the Navy Office in London in the late 18th century. The business was acquired by Westminster Bank in 1923.

Ulster Bank

A joint stock bank founded in Belfast in 1836, by 1914 Ulster Bank had 78 branches and 89 sub-branches across Ireland. It was taken over by London County Westminster & Parr’s Bank (later Westminster Bank, then NatWest) in 1917. It has continued to trade separately to the present day.

Union of London & Smith's Bank

This joint stock bank was established in London in 1839. In 1902 it had 51 branches, but during the following years took over several large banks in London and the provinces. When it was acquired by National & Provincial Bank of England in 1918 it had 231 branches. As part of National Provincial, it went on to become part of NatWest.

Williams Deacon's Bank

Founded in Manchester in 1836 as Manchester & Salford Bank, this shareholder-owned bank acquired the long-standing London private bank of Williams, Deacon & Co in 1890. By 1914 it was an important British bank with 73 branches and 44 sub-branches in north west England. It was acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1930.

Woodhead & Co

This naval agency traces its origins to Lark & Woodhead, established in London in around 1804. In 1915 the firm was acquired by the army agency Holt & Co, and eventually became part of the Royal Bank of Scotland.