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Oakham in history: 150 years of HSBC

By Evie Payne

29th May 2022 | Local Features

Anthony Aylward, Jade Copse, Sheetal Punj celebrating the birthday (image courtesy of HSBC Oakham)
Anthony Aylward, Jade Copse, Sheetal Punj celebrating the birthday (image courtesy of HSBC Oakham)

On the 25th of May 2022, HSBC UK's branch in Oakham celebrated its 150th anniversary since the bank first opened for business in the town. 

Originally opened by the Leicestershire Banking Company, the Oakham branch has a rich history. It first opened its doors for business on the 25th May 1872 at Market Street, Oakham, following instructions from the Board that "an office be opened by the Bank at Oakham as soon as arrangements can be made". Less than two months later, the Oakham branch was open for business.

In 1899 the Leicestershire Banking Company was acquired by London City and Midland Bank, now HSBC UK. The branch operated from Market Street until 1912, after which it was moved to 'Bay House' High Street, Oakham, which is now 28 High Street. In the same year Henry Jackson and John Fletcher were employed as managers.

At the outbreak of the First World War, William Tilleman Bobart, as the branch manager. He first joined Midland Bank in 1887 at the Melton Mowbray branch.

One member of branch staff from Oakham joined the war effort and served in the forces. Bertie Beechener1 joined the bank on 5th June 1916 aged 16 years old. He joined HM Forces two years later in August 1918, serving in the 9th (Reserve) Battalion London Regiment. 

E.J. Smith can be seen in full uniform in the Netherlands, in this 1945 issue of the bank's internal magazine entitled 'Venture'. (image courtesy of HSBC UK Archives)

Six members of Oakham branch staff joined the war effort for the Second World War, including branch manager H. E. Norris and E.J. Smith. 

With technology developing, 101 years after the branch opened all of the branch's accounts were computerized, meaning all of its accounting was moved from manual ledgers onto an online system, as part of a huge project in the early seventies to computerise the entire branch network. 

As banking continues to evolve with the increasing capabilities of digital channels, the team in Oakham strive to continue to support our customers with their more complex needs. Now offering much more than service support, the team are using their knowledge to protect customers from fraud and share additional ways they can bank and access their account, including the Post Office or even in the comfort of their home. 

 Sheetal Punj, Network Manager in the Oakham branch, said: "The changes I have seen in my 14 years at HSBC shows that the financial world moving forward with so many digital solutions now, I am proud to be able to assist our customers with their digital enquiries."

Alex Smith, HSBC UK's Local Director, said: "I am proud to be celebrating the great milestone of 150 years in this fantastic town at such a momentous time. It has given us the opportunity to appreciate how our branch has adapted to rapidly changing consumer habits and technology over the years.

"While today, the majority of our banking is done with the click of a button, where customers can keep a very close eye on their finances wherever they are in the world. It is fantastic that customers are still able to get support and discuss those moments that matter with the phenomenal team here in Oakham branch."

An image thought to be taken in 1922 of the branch (image courtesy of Francis Frith, Photographic Memories of Oakham)

Happy 150th birthday to Oakham's HSBC!

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