Big Four
UK Clearing Bank History
The Big Four - UK High Street Banks - Photo: FreeFoto.Com
Here we take a look at the 'Big Four' high street banks.

Nat West photo by Ian Britton © {site offline}
EXIT | Banking | Barclays | Lloyds | Midland | Nat West | Woolwich |


The foundations of today's banks can be traced back to the eighteenth century. Over the years, banks have merged to form ever larger companies who may be better placed to service the demands of a fast changing market. At the end of the 1960s, the 'big five' players were: Barclays, Lloyds, Midland, National Provincial and Westminster banks. The newly merged National Westminster reduced the list to just four by 1970. By the 1990s, Building Societies were joining forces with the clearing banks in order to offer an even wider range of services within their portfolios.

Barclays Bank
Barclays Bank
Another of the long established banks. In 1918 the company amalgamated with the London, Provincial and South Western Bank to become one of the UK's 'big five' banks.
Lloyds Bank

At the sign of the Black Horse.
Lloyds TSB
The origins of Lloyds Bank stretch back to 1765, when John Taylor and Sampson Lloyd set up a private banking business in Birmingham, England.
On 1st  August 1995, Cheltenham & Gloucester (C&G) joined the Lloyds Bank Group. And on 28th December 1995, Lloyds Bank Group merged with TSB Group to form Lloyds TSB Group plc. Following the banking crisis of 2008 a new retail business, known simply as Lloyds, was formed in 2013.

Midland Bank
M I D L A N D   B A N K  
Midland Bank
Midland Bank was founded in 1836 "Come and talk to the listening bank." was a latter day catch phrase together with the animated Griffin of the logo.
In July 1992, HSBC’s acquisition of Midland (valued at £3.9 billion) created one of the largest financial organisations of its kind in the world.

The HSBC Group is named after its founding member, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, which was established in 1865 to finance the growing trade between China and Europe.
From 2002, the HSBC identity carried the strapline of 'The world's local bank', emphasising the Group's experience and understanding of a great variety of markets and cultures.

National Westminster Bank
In 1968 National Provincial Bank (est.1833) and Westminster Bank (est.1836), merged as National Westminster Bank. The histories of these banks date back to the 1650s. 
National Westminster Bank commenced trading on 1st January 1970, with the three-arrowheads symbol as its logo. This was just one of many mergers as the banking industry looked to find newly affluent customers with modern business practices. In 1995 the bank was restyled NatWest Group, to reflect its diversity of business. The Royal Bank of Scotland aquired NatWest Group in 2000.

Woolwich Building Society
Woolwich Building Society
Founded in 1847 as a mutual society, The Woolwich became one of the UK's largest Building Societies. In 1997 it floated on the stock market as Woolwich Plc and was subsequently sold out to Barclays in 2000.

Banking mergers in the early part of the 21st century swept away many long-established Building Societies. The resulting mega-banks promised much improved customer service and more flexible tailored products. The banking crisis of 2008 left the industry with a very tarnished reputation. In 2015 branch closures and automation continues as the bulk of transactions move on-line. Lack of competition and poor regulation has allowed service charges for current accounts to become the norm.

Design, images and text compiled by © Light-Straw. Page last updated Dec 2015. Checked May 2021.

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