Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Tea, fish and finance

The sinuous ceramic fish I shared a few days ago is just one of the decorative features in the lobby of Lloyd's Bank, Law Court Branch. One of the treasures of Fleet Street and Strand, it offers perhaps the most extraordinary surroundings for a cashpoint in the city. 



In fact, the bank's history is closely connected with that of the tea shop nearby at 216 Strand. Twining's is the oldest shop in London still housing its original business, although the company's teas are now a national brand. In 1825, over a century after opening the shop, the Twining family moved into banking with an office at Devereux Court. It was just one room, holding a safe, desk and a clerk, and handled business mainly for the family. Expansion was rapid, and very soon the bank was building new premises at 215 Strand, complete with connecting door to the shop. 


In 1892, the bank merged with Lloyd's and three years later it moved to the current branch at 222 Strand. A year earlier, Praed's bank had also merged with Lloyd's and its 169 Fleet Street office was also transferred here. In fact, the building was not purpose-built but had opened as a hotel restaurant in 1883 before it was converted from food to finance. It was the work of architect G Cuthbert, decorated with Doulton tiles painted by J H McLennan. The 'P' incorporated into the design is for Palsgrove Hotel.

The Twining family connection to the bank did not end with the merger. Herbert Haynes Twining was its manager until 1917, when he retired. His son had started work in the bank in 1909, but died near Ypres in the First World War - and the family connection with this branch died with him. 



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