Reproduced from the September 2010 edition of the Bromsgrove Society Newsletter.
The people of Bromsgrove might be excused for being suspicious of all banks, as Rufford and Biggs's Bromsgrove bank collapsed in 1851, depriving most depositors of their savings. This bank was founded in Stourbridge in 1792 by Francis Rufford of Stourbridge and Thomas Biggs of Pedmore, and a branch was opened in Bromsgrove before 1811. The first premises were near Bromsgrove's Town Hall and the first clerk, Benjamin Smith, lived nearby. In 1825, Rufford and Biggs purchased larger premises at 93 High Street from Catherine Twamley. Benjamin Smith lived above the bank until 1851. By that time, Rufford and Biggs was the leading bank in the town, run by the founder's grandson, Francis Rufford, of Yew Tree House, Belbroughton. Rufford, however, had invested his depositors' money in the ill-fated alkali works at Stoke Prior and his Stourbridge and Bromsgrove banks went bankrupt, with combined debts of over £400,000.
As part of the Local History Group's survey of the High Street, all the major banks have been approached and responded with their dates of opening and the rebuilding of their premises. The results of these enquiries are given below.
The Stourbridge and Kidderminster Banking Company was founded in 1833 and opened a Bromsgrove branch in August 1834. The agency at Bromsgrove was open only once a week on market days. However, with the failure of Rufford Biggs and Company in 1851, the Stourbridge and Kidderminster Bank was able to buy their premises at 93 High Street for £1,027 18s 6d. In 1880 the Stourbridge and Kidderminster amalgamated with the Birmingham Banking Company.
This bank, later known as the Metropolitan Bank, was in turn taken over by the London City and Midland Bank, better known as the Midland Bank. The Midland Bank was taken over by HSBC Holdings plc in 1992 and renamed HSBC Bank plc in 1999. It still occupies the same building (now numbered 47 High Street) which was extensively rebuilt in 1973. HSBC Archives in London still has the deeds to these premises going back to the 18th century.
A branch of the Worcester City and County Bank was opened in Bromsgrove on 20 October 1863, with George William Gibson, in charge. He was previously manager of Bromsgrove branch of the Stourbridge and Kidderminster Banking Company. In 1865 The Worcester City and County Banking Company purchased the materials of the former Hop Pole Inn, which were re-erected as their new bank premises in New Road. The Worcester City and County Bank was absorbed by Lloyds Bank in 1889, and continued at its New Road location until 1914. This year saw the branch move to larger premises at 22 High Street (now numbered 112 High Street). Major rebuilding work was performed on the premises in 1971, but the impressive Georgian façade was retained.
Barclays Bank Archives has notes on the deeds to 17 High Street (now numbered 118 High Street) back to 1841. The firm leased the premises from Mrs A.E. Ince in 1920 and bought the freehold in 1924.