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British Banking History Society

District Bank

The origins of District Bank, essentially a northern bank, go back to the establishment of the Manchester & Liverpool District Banking Company in 1829 in Manchester and with an office in Stockport. Very soon, branches in Oldham, Liverpool and Hanley were opened in 1830.

A pre-condition of opening a branch was that sufficient shareholders were available in a town, and once a branch opened a local board of directors was appointed, and would be responsible for overseeing the management of their particular branch. As with many similar banks of the time, the Manchester & Liverpool District Banking Co issued its own notes, but this practice was stopped in 1834, and the banks concentrated on deposits, loans and the discounting of bills of exchange. Substantial bad debts built up but apart from suspending the payment of dividends, the bank survived.

The purchase of the Nantwich and South Cheshire Bank followed in 1844 and the private bankers of Loyd, Entwistle & Co, who were tea merchants in Manchester as well as bankers, were acquired in 1863. Their business can be traced back to 1771.

Further purchases followed, and the number of branches grew from 17 in 1833 to 54 by the late 1880s. A London office was opened in 1885 when the bank was represented not only in Lancashire and Cheshire but also in Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire.

Mergers with the Bank of Whitehaven and the Lancaster Banking Company in 1916 and 1907 respectively added further branches, especially in north Lancashire and Cumbria.

130 new offices were opened between 1918 and 1924 and a merger with County Bank Limited formerly known as the Manchester and County had been established in 1935. The Manchester and County had been established in Manchester in 1862. It absorbed the Saddleworth Banking Co (Buckley & Co established in 1760) in 1866; the Bank of Bolton (established in 1836) in 1896 and the Bank of Stockport (established in 1836) in 1872.

District Bank continued with its policy of opening new branches after this merger becoming the seventh largest of the London clearing banks by the 1950s. Gradually these small banks (Martins or William Deacons) were acquired by the larger clearing banks and the share capital of District Bank Limited (as it had become known) was acquired by National Provincial Bank Ltd in 1962 and it became part of the National Westminster Bank in 1970.

Michael Lord

Click here for pictures of District Bank cheques

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