Provincial banking in nineteenth century England: York City and Country Banking Co., 1830-1880.
thesisposted on 19.11.2015, 08:49 by Cheryl. Bailey
During the nineteenth century, the English provincial banking system transformed from a fragmented base of private firms into a sophisticated, integrated money transfer system dominated by joint-stock banks. This thesis analyses this development over the mid-century's critical years by focussing on a particular institution - York City & County Banking Co., one of the first joint-stock banks to be established in England. Examination of the bank's history between 1830 and 1880 addresses two broad themes: banking in a rural community until 1870; and, the rise of an industrial and commercial commitment thereafter. The first forty years of the bank's history might, conveniently, be described as its 'agricultural phase'. Until 1870, it serviced the agricultural communities and market towns of Yorkshire's North and East Ridings. In many regards, the business was conducted like that of a private house, particularly in terms of the clientele attracted, management's policy towards advances, and the staff recruited. What made it unusual was the propensity of the bank's management to branch from commencement. Over the late nineteenth century, York City became increasingly representative of the banking system as a whole as other provincial banks also began to initiate branch networks. In response, York City's management applied a strategy of developing custom in industrial Yorkshire and the north east. Consequently, the 1870s ushered in a period of transition and change. The opening of the Middlesbrough branch in 1871, and the subsequent policy of expansion pursued under the direction of the new general manager, William Wilberforce Morrell, involved the bank directly in industrial finance, taking it for the first time into an investing rather than saving area. Amalgamation and consolidation typified the bank's post-1870 years. An increased standardisation of business practice in line with other banks, a tendency towards 'bigness', and the increasing professionalisation of the establishment all pointed towards the adoption by York City's management of the 'corporate form'. Within fifty years, York City & County Bank grew from being a modest country bank to become one of the country's largest provincial joint-stock concerns.