Post Office Savings Bank
National Savings and ERNIE...
Invest in Britain
The Post Office Savings Bank offered a whole range of products which encouraged every family member to be a National Saver..

Savings Certificates, Savings Bank Accounts, Trustee Savings Accounts, Savings Stamps and, from 1956, Premium Savings Bonds (ERNIE).

Image: Invest in Britain - Courtesy of NS & I.
| EXIT | Introduction | 1969 Reorganisation | Post Office Savings Bank History | National Savings Movement | Links |
Products: ERNIE | Ordinary Account | SAYE | Savings Bonds & Certificates |

In 1861 the Palmerston Government set up the "Post Office Savings Bank" - a simple savings scheme aiming to encourage ordinary wage earners "to provide for themselves against adversity and ill health".

Over the years both the products and the slogans changed, typically from:

 "Tall oaks from little acorns grow. Join the Post Office Savings Bank"

to in more recent times "Inflation beating savings"

1969 Reorganisation

Prior to 1969, the Post Office had responsibility for Savings Accounts, Savings Certificates and Premium Bonds (ERNIE).

On 1st October 1969, when the Post Office became a Corporation, the Savings Bank functions remained as part of the Exchequer and became National Savings.

A Government Department

The General Post Office (GPO), a Government Department headed by a Government Minister (the Postmaster-General), had a monopoly in UK telecoms and postal services. On 1st October, The Post Office Act 1969 established the GPO as a statutory corporation headed by a Chairman appointed by the Government. 

Post Office Savings Bank
...The Organisational History
Post Office Savings Bank -The History
Here we study in more detail the organisational history of the Post Office Savings Bank from its inception, through many changes to more recent times...

Image: "Tall oaks from little acrons grow."
National Savings Movement
National Savings Movement
During the first world war (WWI 1914 to 1918) the Goverment needed to both reduce borrowing and to raise funds for the war effort. Consequently, the National Savings Movement was established in 1916 to encourage the British people to 'save and prosper'.
The Story of Premium Savings Bonds - ERNIE
The Story of Premium Savings Bonds
Premium Bonds were officially launched on 1st November 1956 by Harold MacMillan, Chancellor of the Exchequer. The first draw took place on 2nd June 1957.

The winning numbers were generated by ERNIE - Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment...

Image: Series 'A' Premium Savings Bond.
Savings Bonds & Certificates
Savings Bonds & Certificates
The Department for National Savings controlled the issue of stock and bonds

Image: 7% British Savings Bond (First Issue).
SAYE - Save As You Earn
SAYE - Save As You Earn
Department for National Savings - SAYE was a Save As You Earn Scheme with contributions automatically deducted from salary.

Later schemes were named Yearly Plan.

[Similar modern day schemes typically allow purchase of company shares at an advantageous rate, linked to a savings plan.]
Ordinary Account
Early savings bank books were fawn coloured as in the advert (at the top of this page). Later ones were silver grey colour, but the most familiar was the 'Blue Book' with a plastic cover which was introduced in 1966.

Ordinary Account Deposit Slip
By using the network of Post Offices, investors could simply present their savings book over the counter, with a deposit or withdrawal slip, to quickly have access to their money.

Ordinary Account
Passbook Closes on the Ordinary Account Extract from press release 11th December 2003...

"National Savings and Investments (NS&I) plans to launch a new savings account in early 2004. In recent months, NS&I has been investigating a range of straightforward savings solutions to provide the flexibility that meets the needs of today's customers. The new savings account has been created in response to changing customer needs and will be launched in place of the Ordinary Account, which opened in 1861, but has not kept pace with other savings accounts. Ordinary Account customers will be able to use their accounts until July 2004, but will be invited to transfer to the new, more flexible savings account from the end of January 2004."

Image © Damon Hart-Davis UK National Savings Bank Ordinary Account passbook, outside blue and clear soft plastic with blue stitching.
NS & I

If you have a query about money held in National Savings, please visit the National Savings & Investments site.
Design, images and text compiled by © Light-Straw. Page last updated Oct 2020 revision. Checked May 2021.

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