Last November, the Virtual Museum carried a picture of the wreath of poppies that had been placed beneath a brass plaque – in the High Street branch of Nat West – that honoured bank staff who had died on active service during the First World War.
It paid tribute to the 2,681 members of ‘the staff of this bank who served in the Great War’ and ‘ in honoured memory of the 415 who gave their lives for their country.’
The plaque bears the initial ‘NP and UBE’ which l have discovered refers to the National Provincial and Union Bank of England which was rated as one of the big five banks before it merged into National Westminster Bank in 1970. It remains a registered company – though dormant.
This year we are marking one hundred years since the outbreak of World War One and l am pleased to report that this article was spotted by Jon Dean in Leicester who wrote to tell me:
‘ I am currently researching some bank employee memorials in Leicester and this caught my eye. The plaque you discuss is not unique to Bath, it was a standard plaque produced by the bank, there is a further example in Leicester and another documented in Maidstone in the respective Nat West branches.
All of these have identical wording, I am sure there are others. If you still have a memorial plaque from an original WESTMINSTER bank building in your area, you should find that this lists the names of the individual employees who gave their lives..’
Thanks for that Jon. The ordinal National Provincial Bank was a British retail bank which covered Eng;and Wales. Bath was one of the first places to get a branch in 1834 – along with Gloucester and Wotton under Edge. By 1836 there were 32 branches.
The memorial plaque to the 1914-18 War is interesting in that the National Provincial took over the Union of London and Smith’s Bank in 1918, so the tribute in bronze to their staff was one of the first to bear the full name of the new company.
There is more about Bath’s history of banking on http://heritagearchives.rbs.com/places/list/bath.html