The Bedford branch of HSBC, one of the oldest in the bank’s branch network, is celebrating its 125th anniversary.
The Bedford branch was opened by Midland Bank (now HSBC UK) in March 1893 following the establishment of the bank itself in 1836. By 1900 the Midland bank branch network had grown to 314 branches with the Bedford branch being at the centre of a significant shift from local banking to a nationwide presence.
Lloyd Conway, Bedford branch manager, HSBC UK, said: “Being part of a branch which has served customers for over 125 years is a notable achievement and we are extremely
proud to be celebrating this great occasion and to appreciate how we as a branch have adapted to the change in customer banking needs over the years.”
Bedford, in the late 19th century, was experiencing a rapid population increase, boosted by a rise in commerce and new civic developments which included the introduction of electric
lighting in 1894. This growth encouraged Midland’s bank’s managing director to open the branch in Bedford which was to be the first of a series of expansions by the bank into the
With business continuing to thrive the branch moved away from its premises at number 103 to number 115 High Street, in order to support its widening customer base. The new building
was a former lace maker’s shop which was extensively converted to meet the requirements of a busy bank branch.
The outbreak of the First World War proved to be a difficult period for the branch. Fifteen members of staff fought in the Armed Forces, with one employee, Alfred Clare, sadly not
returning from the frontline The staff shortages at the branch resulted in the branch hiring its first female employee in 1916, with another 6 being recruited by 1920.
After the end of the war the branch went through yet another transformation and was entirely rebuilt by 1925. This expansion reflected the success of the Midland Bank as it became the
largest bank in the world due to the size of its deposits and extensive branch network.
By the end of the 1950s, the Bedford branch required further extension with a new building being opened at 115 High Street in 1966. However, after amalgamating with 12 Allhallows
sub-branch the branch was briefly closed for further refurbishment before being reopened that year.
Mr Conway added: “The branch through the 50s held paper-based banking records, with staff relying on manual typewriters, ledger posting machines and hand-written reference
cards, where today these processes are now completed with just a click of a button. The customer experience would have been significantly different to what it is like today as
opening hours coincided with local market days and the services available would be limited to business advice and small loans, receiving deposits, withdrawals authorisations and cashing
Today, we offer customers a range of products in branch ranging from savings accounts across to mortgages which are all supported via our express-self service machines,
mobile, online and telephone banking.”