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Remembering when Preston used to have its own bank

Posted on - 26th February, 2019 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Ashton-on-Ribble, History, Nostalgia, Preston News, Riversway, Tulketh
Henry Newsham Pedder picked up the balance sheet when Edward Pedder died, and found things did not add up Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Henry Newsham Pedder picked up the balance sheet when Edward Pedder died, and found things did not add up Pic: Preston Digital Archive

With news on Preston City Council considering funding a community bank we take a look back at when Preston had its own bank.

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Pedder’s was a household name in Georgian and Victorian Preston.

Dating back to 1776 the Pedder family had been entrusted with keeping the money of Prestonian’s safe.

A monetary crisis in 1792 saw only 50 banks in the country survive and keep their doors open, one of those being Pedder’s.

This led to the saying ‘As safe as Pedder’s’.

By 1861 Edward Pedder was in sole control of the Preston Old Bank, which was in Church Street, where Twelve Tellers now is – what used to be TSB.

Mefs. Pedder & Co's Old Bank Preston  Image taken from the History of the Borough of Preston and Its Environs in the County of Lancaster, By Charles Hardwick 1857 Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Mefs. Pedder & Co’s Old Bank Preston Image taken from the History of the Borough of Preston and Its Environs in the County of Lancaster, By Charles Hardwick 1857 Pic: Preston Digital Archive

At the age of 51, on the night of 21 March 1861, Edward died.

The night before he had been in ‘his usual excellent health’ according to a newspaper report at the time.

After his death, a darker truth about the Pedder’s began to emerge.

The silent partner in the bank was Edward’s brother, Henry Newsham Pedder.

An officer in the army he was not involved in day-to-day management at the time of his brother’s death.

Read more: Exploring Preston’s history with a new A-Z

No details had been left by Edward about what to do with the bank in the event of his passing.

Henry quickly discovered balance sheets had not been created for a number of years. And, as his investigations continued, things did not add up.

More than £600,000 had been deposited with the banks, but £700,000 was owned in debts.

Members of the Pedder family pose in a photo at Whinfield House, which has since been demolished Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Members of the Pedder family pose in a photo at Whinfield House, which has since been demolished Pic: Preston Digital Archive

And £200,000 of this was due to an overdraft in Edward Pedder’s account. In today’s money, that would be £23.6million!

Three weeks after the death of Edward Pedder a note appeared on the door of Preston Old Bank. It read ‘In consequency of the death of the late Mr Edward Pedder, the bank is closed, and then business will be wound up’.

Similar to the scenes of 2008 when Northern Rock collapsed, Prestonians rushed to the bank to try and withdraw their money.

Both Edward and Henry’s families were forced to vacate their homes, Ashton House which still stands in Ashton Park and Whinfield House, which has since been demolished. Both houses were sold to help pay the debts.

The lodge at Ashton House in Ashton Park Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The lodge at Ashton House in Ashton Park Pic: Preston Digital Archive

The Pedders left Preston. They never returned. While they were painted as profiteering villains at the time, the family did much to donate to charity and helped various causes and projects in Victorian Preston. But, as one observer at the time noted, “it’s easy to be generous with other people’s money”.

Read more: This mug from the 1842 Preston Guild has been sold

Their name is still familiar in the city, with Pedders Lane running by Ashton Park, where the family lived, and Pedder Street connecting the UCLan campus with Ashton-on-Ribble.

The coach house and stables for Ashton House in Pedder's Lane Pic: Paul Swarbrick/Gill Lawson
The coach house and stables for Ashton House in Pedder’s Lane Pic: Paul Swarbrick/Gill Lawson

You can discover more about the Pedder family in the exhibition about the city’s history in the Discover Preston gallery at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery.

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