THE ENOCH ERA
The Halifax's first Secretary, J. D. Taylor, died in 1902. The following year, Enoch Hill replaced him. Under Hill's guidance, the Society grew from a local to a national institution.
Until the 1900s, the activities of the Halifax were concentrated chiefly in Yorkshire. But Hill was keen for the Society to grow, and embarked on an ambitious programme of expansion. The first branch in southern England was opened at Shaftesbury, Dorset, in 1919. An office in London followed five years later. By the mid 1930s, the Halifax network covered the whole of the UK.
With the takeover of Armstrong & Co. in 1911, Lloyds Bank acquired a presence in France. This marked the start of overseas expansion.
Armstrong & Co. was based in Paris and Le Havre. In acquiring this business, Lloyds took its first step into continental Europe, and Lloyds Bank (France) was formed. Entry into France paved the way for further growth. In 1920, Lloyds became the first British bank to open a branch in Switzerland. This laid the foundations for what would later become Lloyds Bank Europe.
LLOYDS IN LONDON
Lloyds Bank made the move from Birmingham to the City of London in 1912. The new Head Office was located in Lombard Street, at the sign of the black horse…
Following the acquisition of Barnetts, Hoares & Co. in 1884, Lloyds Bank had gained a foothold in London, and inherited the black horse symbol. For some years, the Bank operated from both London and Birmingham. But in 1912, the decision was made to transfer all head office operations to London. A stunning art deco building was opened in Lombard Street, in 1930. This served as Head Office until 2003.
1912 LLOYDS TSB
On 14th April 1912, the world's largest passenger steamship, the 'Titanic', hit an iceberg and sank. Some 1,500 lives were lost, two of whom were insured with Scottish Widows.
The two people concerned were a bandsman – possibly employed on the ship - and a valet to one of the passengers. They had been insured for ￡100 and ￡200 respectively – around ￡5,700 and ￡11,400 today. Their status meant they had little chance of getting onto a lifeboat. Only 12% of the men in second and third class survived, compared with more than a third of those in first class.
In 1913, the Halifax celebrated its Diamond Jubilee. With assets of more than £3 million, it was now the largest building society in the world.
The Halifax's pre-eminent position was largely due to the dynamism of its Secretary, Enoch Hill. Appointed in 1903, Hill was the driving force behind the Society's radical expansion of its branch network. He also introduced innovative products, such as Paid-Up Shares, and established a Penny Savings Department. As a result, the Halifax drew in small savers, and successfully enticed customers away from the savings banks.
FIRST FEMALE CLERKS AT LLOYDS
With the outbreak of the First World War, Lloyds employed women as clerks for the first time. They replaced men who had joined the armed services.
Six women were taken on at the start of the War. By the end, there were more than 2,000 on the payroll. However, this change was not welcomed by all. Many felt that the job was too taxing for women, and that they should look for work where ‘gentleness and sympathy are called for’. The end of the War also marked the end of the general recruitment of women.
CAPITAL & COUNTIES TAKEOVER
The acquisition of Capital & Counties Bank was the largest takeover Lloyds had ever seen. In fact, it was not matched until the merger with TSB in 1995.
Capital & Counties was one of the first banks with a nationwide branch network. By 1918, however, it was falling behind the times, and felt compelled to accept Lloyds' offer. Merging the two banks was a major undertaking - it was not until 1934 that the Capital & Counties Board ceased operations as a separate entity.
HALIFAX ON HOLIDAY
In the summer of 1920, the Halifax took its staff on holiday. Some 30 members, including Secretary Enoch Hill, took a ten day vacation to Devon in an open charabanc.
Organised staff holidays were the brainchild of William Fawcett, editor of the staff magazine, 'Round the Table'. He recognised their potential for 'cultivating a spirit of good fellowship'. The Devon trip was a big success. Others followed, including cruises to Norway, the Baltic and the Canary Islands. Continental tours were also taken to Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and Germany. The last staff holiday was in 1983.
LAST OF THE ENGLISH COUNTRY BANKNOTES
The Somerset firm of Fox, Fowler & Co. was the last country bank in England and Wales to issue its own banknotes. It only stopped with the Lloyds takeover, in 1921.
The bank was established in 1787, and began issuing notes soon after. Provincial banks had to apply for a licence for this, although any banks within 65 miles of the Bank of England were prohibited. The licence, however, did not act as a guarantee - if a bank collapsed, its notes would, literally, not be worth the paper they were written on.
LOGO FOR SAVINGS BANK
To help unify the savings bank movement, and to give it a national profile, the TSB Association adopted an emblem in 1922. All TSBs were encouraged to use it.
The emblem chosen by the TSBA was that of a keep – a fortified stronghold or castle. Underneath, in red, was the word ‘SECURITY’. The message to savers was clear - their money was safe with the trustee savings banks. The oak leaves and acorns around the sides symbolised growth from small beginnings – by paying in as little as a pound a week, people would see their savings grow.
ARMY AGENCY acQUIRED
Cox’s & King’s had been bankers to the British Army since 1758. Lloyds Bank took over the business in 1923, acquiring branches in India, Egypt and Burma.
The firm began when Richard Cox was appointed army agent, in 1758. As such, he was responsible for the payment of officers, as well as the provision of clothing and marketing of commissions. Much later, the firm set up branches in the Far East, to serve British garrisons stationed there. During the First World War, its Charing Cross branch stayed open 24 hours a day to cash cheques for officers returning from the Front.
THE SOUTH AMERICAN CONNECTION
In 1923, Lloyds merged two South American banks to form the Bank of London & South America (BOLSA).
The London & Brazilian Bank and the London & River Plate Bank were both established in 1862. They were founded to provide banking facilities for the growing mercantile trade that dominated British interests in South America. Both had head offices located in London, and were financed primarily by British investors. Lloyds Bank always had a significant stake in BOLSA, but did not own it outright until 1971.
1928 BANK OF SCOTLAND
SCOTTISH BANKS SEEK SMALL INVESTORS
In the face of a financial downturn, Scottish clearing banks made strenuous attempts to attract new customers. They slashed the minimum deposit required from £10 to one shilling.
The 1920s were bleak, with mass unemployment and a struggling economy. Scottish banks sought out new markets, including small savers. From 1928, banks offered deposit accounts, accepting as little as a shilling. This was a considerable reduction on their previous minimum of ￡10 – about ￡300 today! However, even these measures failed to attract many new depositors – people remained loyal to their savings banks and building societies.
In 1928, the Halifax Permanent and the Halifax Equitable merged to create the Halifax Building Society. This was five times larger than any other society in the UK.
The merger was marked by the publication of a booklet that celebrated the 'marriage' of the two. It proudly announced: 'A great event in building society history is briefly told in the following pages... on the First day of February, 1928, the two greatest Building Societies of the world... became legally united into one corporate body'.
MECHANISED ACCOUNTING BEGINS
Banking methods remained largely unchanged for centuries. But in 1928, a machine was developed that revolutionised accounting. Balancing the books became faster and cheaper.
Business growth and rising costs meant that more efficient and cost-effective processes were needed. The new accounting machines could complete the work more quickly, using fewer staff. Women were employed to operate them because they could be paid less than their male counterparts. By the end of 1929, City Office in London, and five other branches had switched over. But the last branch was only mechanised in 1962.
In 1933, construction began on a housing scheme for the steel workers of Stewarts & Lloyds at Corby, Kettering. The Halifax advanced 90% of the funds.
The Corby estate was one of a number of housing schemes that the Halifax financed under the Housing (Financial Provisions) Act, 1933. This sought to address the critical housing shortage in Britain during the inter-war years. Building societies were called on to provide cheap loans for builders, which were guaranteed by central government and local authorities. The Halifax funded 60% of all the houses built – some 14,000 in total.
SPONSORING A SPITFIRE
During the Second World War, some 12,000 Lloyds Bank staff chipped in to purchase a Spitfire for the war effort. It was fittingly named 'The Black Horse'.
Within months, staff subscriptions reached more than ￡7,000, with donations averaging 12 shillings per person. The Spitfire went into action in March 1941. Sadly, though, in July 1942 it collided mid-air with another Spitfire, and crashed near Weston-Super-Mare in Somerset. Fortunately, the pilot bailed out and survived, but the Black Horse was lost.
WANTED: FEMALE CUSTOMERS
In 1947, Lloyds launched a series of advertisements aimed specifically at women. This was a largely untapped market, as many women had never had a bank account of their own.
The campaign was aimed at housewives and business women alike. The adverts included straplines such as ‘…and send the account to me’ and ‘…then you won’t require my husband’s signature?’. One even suggested that the fact that women were seeking a new level of financial independence was ‘a tribute to the husbands' good judgement as well as to the intelligence of their wives’.
LLOYDS BANK AND THE OLYMPIC GAMES
Lloyds Bank installed a temporary branch at the site of the London 1948 Olympic Games. It offered the usual banking services, and was staffed by linguists.
Other members of staff were actively involved in the Games too. The manager of Teddington Branch was responsible for ensuring that the Olympic Flame remained alight. He followed the Torch bearers in his Morris Minor, from Kent to Wembley, with a hurricane lamp. Its flame had been burning continuously since leaving Greece several weeks earlier. Should any Torch fail, it could be relit from the lamp.
MARRIED WOMEN ALLOWED TO WORK
In 1949, Lloyds Bank abolished the marriage bar. This had required all women to resign on marriage. The Bank also granted female staff ‘permanent’ status.
This meant, for the first time, that women could think of their job at Lloyds as a career. Until then, it was just a means of earning a living before they got married. In 1924, one young clerk had successfully concealed her marriage for a whole year. However, on finding out, the Bank dismissed her. Women were also to be classed as permanent staff – they had previously been referred to as ‘supplementary’.