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Post by Stanley » 15 Jun 2018, 08:01


Since 2008 when most of the Western World's credit system collapsed overnight due to a combination of under-regulation, greed and mismanagement, financial matters have been constantly in the news. I don't intend to rake that bed of coals over again beyond expressing my personal opinion that the sight of executives being led out of the bank's headquarters in handcuffs might have a salutary effect. I'm sure that a lot of you will be as incensed as I am but before we leap to judgement it might be a good thing to look at the history so let's go for a wander into the past.
We start in 1855. How had credit and financial management in the West Craven area progressed since the Iron Age farmers? The answer is not a lot. We have documentary evidence in the Barcroft Papers of the 17th century of how the clothiers financed their wool purchases by means of loans from wealthy men and these loans were guaranteed by a banking system largely based in London which issued ‘letters of credit’ at a fixed rate of interest which could be redeemed by the holder at any time. There is also a suggestion that these wealthy men held funds for private individuals in strong rooms at their homes. The alternative was hiding it under the bed. These were the precursors of the banks and the letters of credit later developed into banknotes. There were no local banks at that time.
At a lower level domestic credit to tide a family over hard times came from a variety of sources, short term loans from family and friends and credit given by local retailers was important. Many older people will remember the famous ‘shop book’ which was still in use in the 1950s when I was a grocer in Sough. Trusted customers had monthly accounts which were a form of credit. There was no interest charge beyond the normal profit made on the goods sold. There was no other safety net apart from Parish charity or the workhouse. If a family ran out of sources of credit they were thrown on to the not so tender mercies of local charity. Conversely, if a family had surplus money there was nowhere for them to put it for safety.
In 1791 a group of Quakers in Skipton banded together and formed the first local bank in the area, Birkbeck’s, Alcock and Company trading as the Craven Bank. The Skipton bank was used by the business community in West Craven. The bank opened its first branch in Barlick in 1876 in Mr Dean’s front parlour, it moved from there to the shop next door. In 1891 they were at the corner of Church Street and then in Station Road. In 1910 they moved into purpose built premises in Newtown and were later incorporated first as the Midland bank and later as HSBC. It's a sign of the times that it is now a betting shop. Bear with me, more next week.


The impressive Midland Bank building in Newtown in 1982.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
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"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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