Wolverhampton's Listed Buildings

National Westminster Bank

Queen Square

Listing: c.1905. Edwardian Baroque style.


Anthony Perry, "St. Peter's House", St. Peter's Collegiate Church, 1998.
The Builder, Nov.26th, 1920, p.604


"The Builder" gives the architects as Bromley & Watkins.  (Does anyone know anything about them?)

The date stone on the building refers to the date of the bank's founding, not the date of this building.  The statutory listing has also got the date wrong - presumably they guessed a date from the style; and it would seem, on that basis, a pretty accurate guess.  But in fact there is an application for Building Bye-Laws approval, in the city archives, dated 1913, so Anthony Perry's date of 1914 is clearly right. 

He writes (op.cit. p18): "In 1914 the National Provincial Bank, now National Westminster, was built in its present grand style at the corner of Exchange Street and the Square. The strange frontage to Exchange Street beyond the main bank building can be explained by this new development. The three and a half storey red brick building with stone stressing and parapet, the top storey having round windows, originally continued all the way along to the corner of the Square, where the premises of S. Cole, Cash Draper, occupied the shop frontage. This complemented the other corner building, now Consorts [and now a coffee shop under another name!]. When the bank was rebuilt to include Cole's shop, the back part of the older building was left".

The Builder (long after the event but probably based on information from someone connected with the building) records that increasing business necessitated the pulling down of the bank's old building and the erection of a new one with "considerable extensions" - which would be the part along Exchange Street.  They also mention basement strong rooms and a ground floor treasury.  The upper floors, "provided with an electric lift", have access from the door to the left side of the building and were sublet for offices. 

Photo of about 1914.  Note that to the far left you can just see part of the Electric Theatre (a cinema) which operated under that name until 1915 when it became the Imperial Playhouse (see Ned Williams, Cinemas of the Black Country, at p.48). 
This photo of the interior is of about the same date.  The design is unexceptional but the counter grilles are of some interest in that they were made by Colledge and Bridgen, Midland Works, Wolverhampton - a firm more usually known as lock manufacturers. 

When this building was put up it was for the National Provincial Bank of England.  This cast iron plaque, in the original railings, says "Formerly County of Stafford Bank".  Presumably that was a local bank which was one of those which became part of the National Provincial.
The sculpture over the corner entrance, showing the date 1833 - but note that it says "Ested 1833" which is, presumably, the foundation date claimed by the Nat Prov rather than the County of Stafford Bank.

Noszlopy and Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Staffordshire and the Black Country, at p. 204, say, of the sculpture over the main door, that the sculptor is unknown and that the male figure, with a sledgehammer, personifies industry; and the female figure, with a bundle of wheat, personifies  agriculture.  "Behind the figure of Industry there is a beehive, the traditional symbol of a bank; in heraldry, the bees themselves symbolise a well-governed industry".  "The Builder" says that the sculpture is "symbolical of local industries" but does not say who designed it - as like as not it was the architects.