The History of Charbury through ... its first bank
Barbara Allison and Janet Jeffs for Charlbury Museum
Many people can remember when Charlbury had two banks –a branch of Barclays and one of the Midland –both now long gone, like bank branches in many towns and cities. But when did banks first appear in our town? We have found out a bit about the history of the Midland Bank here, which goes all the way back to 1853.
Our first bank was a small branch of the Stourbridge and Kidderminster Bank, one of numerous banks set up by the 1830s, usually founded by local people and serving just their local area. This small bank only had 10 branches, one of which was here and another in Chipping Norton. Charlbury’s branch opened in 1853 and was in Church Street, in John Marshall Albright’s grocers and drapers premises, using the back parlour behind the shop. It may have been accessed by a passageway at the side. (now Little Monkeys and The Heat Store). A report in a local newspaper said it had been opened for ‘the convenience of dealers, farmers and the public generally, which afforded great convenience to the town’
These small banks were often taken over. By 1893, Charlbury’s bank was part of the Metropolitan Bank (of England and Wales), It was still in the same shop, the premises now owned and run by the Smith family –Thackwell and his son Thackwell Gillett Smith. Have a look at the photo of the shop - the bank’s sign is above the shop front. The young man standing in the doorway may have been William Wilson, the grocer’s foreman. He was 26 years old and lived above the shop with the Smith family in 1901.
There were more takeovers, and by 1914, our bank was part of the London and City & Midland Bank. In a photo from the early 1920s, you can just make out the sign on the façade of a building in Market Street (now Oxford House). Around 1918, the bank had moved from Church Street to its new site, and by 1923, it had shortened its name to the Midland Bank. So that’s how Charlbury got a branch of the Midland Bank.
And William Wilson? In 1939, he had moved banks, and was a bank clerk in Barclays Bank, also in Market Street. The Midland bank sub-manager was Cyril Wadley, who had worked in banking for many years.