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Launceston Banking since 1807

Banking within Launceston followed the pattern of that of other small towns. Small Banks were opened and failed, later larger Banks were opened which in time were absorbed by still larger Banks and these, in turn, were absorbed by one or other of what was once the ‘Big Five.’ The following are the important dates in the early Banking history:
1807 – Tamar Bank, Kelly and Co., established at 2, Broad Street.
1808 – Hill and Co., established, no further details are available.
1809 – Cudlipp and Co., established.
1811 – Last record of Cudlipp and Co.
1811 – Brown, Harvey and Co., established, corner of Broad Street and High Street.
1812 – North Cornwall Bank, Glynn and Co., opened a Branch at 6, Broad Street.
1818 – Brown, Harvey and Co. became Harvey and Son.
1822 – North Cornwall Bank failed.
1826 – Harvey and Son failed.
1828 Tamar Bank failed.
1831 East Cornwall Bank opened an Agency at 6, Broad Street.
1832 – Gill and Co., opened an Agency at 2, Broad Street.
1832 – Gill and Co., opened an Agency at 2, Broad Street.
1834 – Devon and Cornwall Bank opened a Branch at 13, Broad Street (Lloyds Bank from 1906).
1855 Dingley, Pethybridge and Co., established in Westgate Street.
1889 – Gill and Co., absorbed by Fox, Fowler and Co., (Lloyds Bank from 1921).
Dingley, Pethybridge and Co., absorbed by the National Bank.

The first and probably the largest of the small Banks was Kelly and Co., the Tamar Bank, who occupied premises in Broad Street until they failed in 1828. This was the last of a series of five failures and seems to have exasperated the people of Launceston, for they gathered all the available notes of the Tamar Bank in a heap in the Broad Street Square and set them on fire. Over this fire a leg of mutton was roasted, but there is no record either of who provided the joint or who ate it when cooked.
In 1832, very shortly after the failure of the Tamar Bank, the premises they had occupied were taken by Gill and Co., as a daily agency. Gill and Co. had been established at Tavistock since 1791. The agency was called the ‘Launceston Bank,’ but the name was eventually changed to the ‘Tavistock Bank.’ The original name was taken at a later date by Dingley. Pethybridge and Co., who formed a new Bank in the town in 1855. There is no record of the name of any agent for Gill and Co., until that of Mr. John Dingley. He resigned in 1855 to form, jointly with Mr. Pethybridge, formerly of the East Cornwall Bank at Launceston, the new Bank referred to in the previous paragraph.
After John Dingley’s resignation Mr. Richard Peter, an auctioneer, was appointed. About 1875 the agency became a full branch worked by Richard Peter and Mr. G. M. Gifford. The last record of Richard Peter’s work in the office is in 1876 and the last of Mr. Gifford in 1880. Mr. W. Mill succeeded Mr. Gifford and remained with Gill and Co., – now Gill, Morshead and Co. – Until after the absorption of that firm by Fox, Fowler and Co., in 1889, but he retired in 1890 owing to ill health. Fox, Fowler and Co., were established at Wellington, Somerset in 1787 and Mr. J. Howard Fox, the senior partner of that Bank later became a Director of Lloyds Bank. Mr. Wevill was next appointed and remained as manager until the end of 1901. When he retired Mr. J. I. Knill, who had been cashier at Launceston since 1890, took his place. Mr. Knill died suddenly in 1915 and was succeeded by Mr. A. Y. Oag. In 1821 the business of Fox, Fowler and Co., was absorbed by Lloyds Banks and for a time there were two branches in the town, each under a separate Manager. In 1922 Mr. Oag of the ‘Fox’s’ Branch was given charge of both Branches but the two businesses were not merged until 1929. In 1834 the newly formed Devon and Cornwall Banking Company, whose head office was at Plymouth, opened a full branch in Launceston at 13, Broad Street and remains the oldest full branch in Launceston. The Devon and Cornwall Branch was opened under the management of Mr. Woolley, who remained in charge until his death. He was succeeded by Mr. J. R. Eadie, who retired some years later. Mr. B. Balkwill was next appointed and he was succeeded by Mr. Martin Body. Mr. Body started his banking career in Launceston and, except for an absence of a few years, remained there until his death. It was during his period of management that the business of the Devon and Cornwall Bank was absorbed by Lloyds Bank. He retired from the Bank in 1912. The next manager was Mr. T. A. Arden who left Launceston to become manager of Wotton-under-Edge branch in 1922 shortly after Fox, Fowler and Co’s., business was acquired.With the purchase of Fox, Fowler and Co’s., business there were two businesses and two offices in the town. Before the two branches could be merged and housed in one office extensive alterations to the premises were necessary. They were carried out and a modern strong room built under the direction of the Bank’s Building Inspector at Salisbury, in 1929.

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