Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 05, 2019
Webpage updated: May 23, 2020




The National Provincial Bank of England Limited opened its first local branch at Devonport in 1839 when it took over the Devonport General Bank.  The Bank had been founded in 1833 and had steadily expanded largely by taking over many of the private banks that existed in all counties of England.  It acquired limited liability status in 1880.

Although the Bank opened a branch in Plymouth in 1836 it was apparently closed in 1854 and business transferred  to the Devonport Branch.  It opened its permanent Plymouth Branch in Westwell Street on Monday December 23rd 1878.

By 1884 the Bank had moved in to the premises at 68 George Street formerly occupied by the failed West of England and South Wales District Bank, which had been forced to suspend its operations on December 9th 1878.  The former manager of the West of England branch, Mr Henry Cross (1822-1884), continued as manager of the National Provincial branch until his death on Tuesday February 5th 1884, when he was succeeded by Mr Egbert Athelstan New.

On Thursday April 16th 1903 the Plymouth Branch of the National Provincial Bank of England Limited moved into the ground floor of the brand new Prudential Building at the junction of Bedford Street, Frankfort Street and George Street.  Two rows of mahogany desks ran down the length of the banking hall, the ones at the front being protected by an artistic wrought iron grill.   There was an hydraulic lift to the vaults in the basement.  Opposite the main entrance was the manager's room, alongside which were two rooms for the use of the male and female clerks in the lunch period.

The architect was Mr Paul Waterhouse and the contractor was Messrs Lethbridge and Son, of Plymouth.  The lift was fitted by Messrs Waygood and Otis while the East Stonehouse business of Messrs Fouracre and Son supplied the stained glass windows.

Merger in 1918 with the 230+ branches of the Union of London and Smiths Bank Limited brought a new title -- National Provincial and Union Bank of England Limited.  The Union Bank had taken over the Borough Arms Coffee Tavern premises at 35 Bedford Street, Plymouth, in 1909, and the National Provincial took over the premises on the corner with Bank Street.

In 1924 the Bank's name was shortened to just the National Provincial Bank Limited.  As from Monday August 8th 1927 all the Bank's business in Plymouth was undertaken from 35 Bedford Street following the extension of the building.  Mr L R Wellburn, manager of the branch in the Prudential Building, and Mr A R Whitmarsh, manager of the Union Bank branch, would act as joint branch managers. 

Mr Arthur Reginald Whitmarsh was the Branch Manager in 1935.  There were also branches at Mutley Plain, Ridgway, Plympton, and Fore Street, Devonport.

During the air raids of March 1941 the Bank was badly damaged but the ground floor remained open for business until Monday May 9th 1949, when they opened in the former Bank of England premises in Bank of England Place.  The manager, Mr H E Mitchell, also looked after the Mutley Plain Branch at number 63 Mutley Plain.

In 1956 work started on providing them with a new building at the top of Royal Parade, on Saint Andrew's Cross.  It was constructed by Messrs Humphreys Ltd, of London, Chester and Plymouth.  The granite portico, facings and paving were supplied by the Dartmoor Granite Company, of Merrivale Quarries, near Princetown, while the clock tower, counters and bank fittings were installed by the Maple/Martyn Organisation, of London and Cheltenham.

On Monday September 8th 1958 a buffet luncheon was held in the banking hall at which both the Lord Mayor, Alderman G J Wingett, and the Deputy Lord Mayor, Mr G F Drake and their wives, were present.  The local manager was Mr G A Blakey.  The bank was opened to the public at 9.30am on Monday September 15th 1958.

National Provincial acquired the District Bank Limited in 1962, which did not have a branch in Plymouth.  A merchant banking arm, the County Bank Limited, was formed in 1965.

A merger with the Westminster Bank Limited was announced in 1968 but it did not take effect until January 1st 1970, when the National Westminster Bank came into existence.


  With acknowledgement to the RBS Archives in Edinburgh for their very efficient assistance.