West Yorkshire Bank

(1829-1919)

Foundation


West Yorkshire Bank £5 banknote

The West Yorkshire Bank was founded as the Halifax Joint Stock Banking Company in 1829. It was one of the first such joint-stock companies to be set up in England and Wales. 

Expansion

In the beginning, the board of directors were anxious not to overstretch the Bank’s resources, so expansion was slow. This, coupled with a prudent lending policy, meant that the business was able to survive a series of financial crises during the 1840s and '50s. However, from the 1870s onwards, the board judged that the time was right to expand - the company needed to keep pace with its regional rivals. The next 30 years saw 29 new branches opened throughout West Yorkshire.

Halifax branch, 1911
Halifax branch, 1911

The business further expanded in 1911 when it took over its long-time rival, the Halifax & Huddersfield Union Banking Company. It was at this point that it changed its name to the West Yorkshire Bank. The Halifax & Huddersfield had been established in 1836, through the merger of a series of private banks owned by the Rawson family. It had retained a strong connection with the Rawsons, with its first five chairmen all coming from the family.

Interior of Halifax branch, 1920
Interior of Halifax branch, 1920

Takeover

In the wake of the First World War, the West Yorkshire Bank struggled to compete with other major banks. When Lloyds put in an offer for the company, the Yorkshire bank’s Chairman wrote to its shareholders urging them to accept. He reasoned that the takeover was the only way to ensure that the business would not ‘snowball’ out of control. Fortunately the shareholders agreed, and Bank was purchased by Lloyds in 1919.



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