The international arm of Barclays Bank Ltd was established by Frederick Craufurd Goodenough, chairman of Barclays between 1913 and his death in 1934. He conceived the idea of an empire bank, carrying on domestic banking along British lines throughout the sterling area and able to transfer funds through London to any part of the organisation as required. In 1917 he came to a working arrangement with the Colonial Bank which had been founded by charter in 1836 to trade in the West Indies. In 1916, an Act of Parliament had allowed the Colonial to extend its operations throughout the Empire, and the working arrangement of 1917 gave Barclays access to the Colonial's presence in West Africa. Barclays secured a controlling interest in the Colonial Bank in 1918-19. By 1919, Barclays also bought shares in the National Bank of South Africa, which had been registered in 1891 under Transvaal laws and had absorbed banks with older roots in South Africa. The National Bank of South Africa itself had a holding in the Colonial Bank. In 1920, Barclays acquired the Anglo-Egyptian Bank which had been founded in 1864. This gave Barclays representation in Egypt, the Mediterranean, Palestine and the Sudan. In 1925, Goodenough obtained an Act of Parliament for the re-incorporation of the Colonial Bank which changed its name to Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas), a private subsidiary of Barclays Bank Ltd, and which soon afterwards formally absorbed both the Anglo-Egyptian Bank and the National Bank of South Africa, whose complete acquisition by Barclays was part of the whole transaction. The original structure of the three foundation banks continued to function under powers delegated by the main Board (known as the Central Board). The South African 'local board' was based in Johannesburg, but the local boards for the Colonial Bank and Anglo-Egyptian sections were based in London. The former London Committee of the National Bank continued to hold weekly meetings until 1929 when joint meetings were held with the Anglo-Egyptian committee, followed shortly by the participation of the Colonial Bank Committee. The London Committee was attended by the general manager and assistant general managers, and sanctioned advances with authority delegated by the Board. The committee ceased meeting in 1980. In 1954, the title of the company was shortened to Barclays Bank DCO, to dilute its imperial overtones. In 1971, it was renamed again as Barclays Bank International, to reflect the change in emphasis to world-wide banking as Barclays' representation outside the Commonwealth increased, and was incorporated under the Companies Acts as a private limited company. At the same time, Barclays Bank Ltd purchased the minority shareholding of 43.5%. In 1985, Barclays Bank International was re-registered as a public company, and its business was combined with that of Barclays Bank by Act of Parliament to form a new holding company Barclays PLC, with a new subsidiary called Barclays Bank PLC taking the former company number of Barclays Bank International (1026167).
The archives of Barclays International constitute one of the core collections of Group Archives. Records include:
- board and committee minutes and papers (including lists of advances)
- minutes of local boards
- an extensive series of photographs recording Barclays' presence in overseas territories and countries
- annual reports and accounts
- accounting records including ledgers, departmental records and management files (many subjects including currency boards, commodities trades, colonial development)
- visit reports and inspection papers containing information on the state of banking business in the various territories, countries and regions (Africa, Caribbean, Egypt and Mediterranean) and on prevailing economic, social and political conditions
- records of Barclays Overseas Development Corporation 1946 onwards
- examples of advertising circa 1945 onwards
- staff rules and magazines 1946 onwards
Further information about this collection is available at the Archives Hub (link opens in new window).