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The Craven Bank was founded in 1791 by William and John Birkbeck, William Alcock, John Peart, Joseph Smith and William Lawson. Individually, they had developed basic banking systems in their local areas: the Birkbecks in Settle; Alcock in Skipton; Peart in Grassington; and Lawson in Giggleswick: as sidelines to their original occupations as merchants, solicitors and manufacturers. In common with many banks at that time, the Craven Bank issued its own notes. Such bank notes were usually illustrated with the bank's emblem, or a picture of the town where it was based. The emblem of the Craven Bank came to be the Craven heifer, and many local farmers preferred the notes "wi' the cow on" to those of the Bank of England. The nineteenth century saw various partners come and go, and in 1880, it was decided that the bank should be converted to a joint stock company: it was incorporated as the Craven Bank Ltd. The bank was to have an authorised capital of £1,200,000 divided into 40,000 shares at £30 each, and the Head Office was moved from Settle to Skipton. At that time, the bank had 7 branches and 10 sub-branches. The next few years were a period of branch expansion and increased profits, but, by the turn of the century, the Craven Bank was struggling in a world of increasingly competitive and larger banks. In 1906, the Craven Bank Ltd was amalgamated with the Bank of Liverpool. By that time, it had branches at Bingley, Bradford, Burnley, Clitheroe, Colne, Ilkley, Keighley, Manningham, Nelson, Otley, Padiham, Settle and Silsden; and sub-branches at Addingham, Barrowford, Bentham, Brierfield, Burley-in-Wharfedale, Burnley, Colne Road, Habergham, Cononley, Cowling, Cross Hills, Denholme, Earby, Foulridge, Gargrave, Gisburn, Grassington, Guiseley, Haworth, Hellifield, Ingleton, Long Preston, Oxenhope, Salterforth, Trawden and Whalley. In deference to the traditions of the Craven Bank, it was decided that its branches should continue to operate as a discrete district within the Bank of Liverpool, with Skipton as the district's head office.

Material available at Group Archives:

  • partners' records including letters 1790s
  • profit and loss sheets 1811-44
  • ledgers 1825-87
  • agreements
  • manager's diary 1866-72
  • early customer ledgers including those pre-1800
  • shareholders' registers
  • board minutes
  • annual reports and accounts
  • head office instructions 1901
  • bank notes
  • amalgamation papers