Group Archives

Group Archives

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Established in 1847 as the Woolwich Equitable Benefit Building and Investment Association, like most building societies it was formed to receive the savings of local people and to finance home ownership in the area. It was incorporated under the Building Societies Act of 1874 as Woolwich Equitable Benefit Building Society, shortened subsequently to Woolwich Equitable Building Society. By 1947, it had 43 branches arranged across seven administrative regions. From 1959 it issued pass books to subscribing members to replace traditional share certificates. From the 1970s onwards the Woolwich acquired a number of other building societies, including Grays (1978); New Cross (1984); North Kent (1986); Property Owners (1986); Gateway (1988) and Town and Country (1992). In 1990, the name was shortened to Woolwich Building Society. In 1997 the society followed the pattern of most of the large building societies in demutualising under the Building Societies Act of 1986 and becoming a public company. Its shares were quoted on the stock exchange and in 2000 Woolwich PLC agreed to merge with Barclays. The High Court sanctioned a scheme of arrangement under section 425 of the Companies Act, and on 25 October the entire share capital was transferred to Barclays Bank PLC.

These records constitute one of the few comprehensive archives for a major building society available to researchers. Material available at Group Archives:

  • board and committee minutes 1847 onwards (gap 1859-66)
  • annual reports and accounts 1848 onwards
  • rule books 1855 onwards
  • general meeting papers 1950s onwards
  • valuation and report 1902
  • general ledger 1918-30s
  • papers regarding war service and comfort fund 1940s
  • staff association records 1920-65
  • scrap books 1905-82
  • examples of advertising material 1930s onwards
  • examples of pass books
  • photographs of branches and staff