Bate and Robins, also known as the Stourbridge Old Bank, was founded in the late 1700s in Stourbridge, UK. It was acquired by Midland Bank (now HSBC UK) in 1851. Midland was acquired by HSBC Holdings plc in 1992.
The private bank’s origins are unclear. A firm named Hill, Waldron and Co was operating in Stourbridge in 1797. Various partnership changes meant that the name altered a number of times, before changing to Thomas Hill, Thomas Hill junior, Thomas Bate and William Robins by 1812. It was then known as Bate and Robins from about 1833. Other sources have suggested its roots can be traced further back to the business of William Blow Collis, cloth merchant and retailer, who offered banking services in the town of Stourbridge from around 1762. His nephew, George, married into the family of William Robins, partner of Thomas Bate. Subsequently, a business titled Bate and Robins is said to have operated from the former premises of William Blow Collis at 38 High Street.
Customers of the bank included local collieries, metalwork traders and glass manufacturers. It lacked any competition until 1834, when a former customer, James Foster, founded the Stourbridge and Kidderminster Banking Company after a disagreement concerning his overdraft. Despite this, business continued to be successful, and deposits stood at around GBP250,000 by the 1850s.
It then caught the eye of the Birmingham and Midland Bank. In 1851, Midland agreed to pay GBP17,850 for the business and premises. It was Midland’s first acquisition, and 38 High Street, Stourbridge became the first branch in what was to eventually develop into a national network.
Further reading: ‘A Hundred Years of Joint Stock Banking’ by J. E. Wadsworth and W. F. Crick (Hodder & Stoughton, 1936).
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