The Eastbourne branch of the HSBC, one of the oldest branches in the bank’s network, is celebrating its 125th anniversary since the bank first opened its doors for business in the town.
The branch, which originally opened at 18 Cornfield Road, formally opened its doors in May 1894, with a small team led by branch manager Charles Nicholls, who was recruited from another local bank for the role on an annual salary of £230.
Due to the success of the branch in the early years new, larger premises were required to cope with increased demand, and a prime site was purchased at auction by the bank at 94 Terminus Road – its current location. Proposed architectural plans were approved at a meeting in 1910, and the building was erected in around 1913.
The branch has a fascinating history that includes employees playing a full part in both World Wars, with 32 members of staff joining the war effort.
Sadly, two members of staff, Corrie Morse died in France in the First World War and Ralph Grimble died in active service in West Africa after leaving the branch in 1941 to join the Army.
The Eastbourme branch was opened by London and Midland Bank, later called Midland Bank and now HSBC UK, which was itself established in Birmingham in 1836 by Charles Geach. The Eastbourne branch was part of an expansion outside of the Midlands in the 1890s which saw the branch network grow from 45 in number to more than 300 at the turn of the century.
Paul Amos, branch manager at the HSBC UK Eastbourne branch, who has been in position for five years, said, “I am proud to be leading the branch team at such a momentous time. Celebrating 125 years of the branch being open in this fantastic town has given us the opportunity to appreciate how our branch has adapted to rapidly changing consumer habits and technology over the years.”
Eastbourne branch timeline:
· 1893 – On January 27 a London and Midland Bank board meeting approves plans to expand the branch network into the south coast town of Eastbourne.
· 1894 – A rental agreement for 18 Cornfield Road was secured and Charles Nicholls was recruited on a salary of £230 per annum.
· 1894 – In May the branch opened to the public, with Maurice Ellis and Reginald Palmer joining Charles Nicholls in the branch team. They received annual salaries of between £30 and £40.
· 1913 – Building work on new branch is completed and branch is open to the public.
· 1914-1918 – Fifteen men from the branch joined the Armed Forces and served their country in the First World War. Sadly, Corrie Morse, who entered the bank’s service in 1913 and joined the Royal Fusiliers in 1916, was killed in action in France.
· 1939-1945 – The branch faced the strain of the Second World War with seventeen members of staff leaving the branch to contribute to the war effort. As with the First World War, one member of staff,Ralph Grimble, died in action in West Africa, having left the branch to join the army in 1941, aged 22.
· 1970 – November 9 marks the date all customer accounts in the Eastbourne branch were computerised.
· 2019 – HSBC UK celebrates its 125th anniversary at the Eastbourne branch.
Paul Amos said, “During the early 1890s in-branch services and the customer experience would have been significantly different to what it is like today.
“Opening hours coincided with local market days and the services available would be limited to business advice and small loans, receiving deposits, withdrawals authorisations and cashing cheques in, with all records paper-based and recorded in large ledgers.
“While today, the majority of our banking is done with a click of a button, where customers can keep a very close eye on their finances wherever they are in the world, they are still able to discuss our mortgage and savings options here in the branch. We are very proud to be part of a branch which has been at the centre of change in banking in the 21st century, but even more proud to continue to be providing a first class service for those in Eastbourne who use the branch.”