County of Gloucester Bank

(1836-1897)

Foundation

Cheque issued by Swindon branch of County of Gloucester Bank, c.1880
Cheque issued by Swindon branch of County of Gloucester Bank, c.1880

The County of Gloucester Bank was formed in 1836. It was the result of the merger of Gloucester County & City Bank (established in 1834) and the Cirencester-based bank Pitt, Croome, Bowley & Brown (established in 1790). The new business immediately went on to take over several other local private banks.

Expansion


Operating in a predominantly rural area, the Bank’s customers were involved primarily in agriculture. The County of Gloucester became the biggest bank in the region in 1856, taking over its main competitor, Cheltenham & Gloucestershire Bank. By this time it had also become the fourth largest note-issuing bank in England and Wales.

Its takeovers, however, were not always motivated by the desire to expand its branch network. In 1841, it acquired the private bank, Strange & Co., purely to secure the services of its managers in Swindon and Highworth.

A prominent figure on the Bank's board of directors in the 1890s was the Earl of St Aldwyn. He later resigned his seat to become Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Marquis of Salisbury’s government.

Takeover

The economic downturn of the 1890s hit the Bank hard. A series of bad debts, and the increasing volatility of regional banks, forced the board to accept that the Bank could no longer survive on its own. The banking sector was witnessing an ever-increasing number of amalgamations, which resulted in bigger and bigger banks. Lloyds saw the County of Gloucester Bank as an ideal purchase: it would significantly increase their representation in the south-west. County of Gloucester was bought by Lloyds Bank in 1897.

County of Gloucester £5 note, 1843
County of Gloucester £5 note, 1843

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