Sydney Architecture Images- Gone but not forgotten

Bank of New South Wales George Street




341 George Street (to the right of the Commercial Bank (CBC Bank) George Street, at the end of Martin Place).


Built-    Demolished- 1923 Replaced by- Westpac Building


Victorian Italianate Renaissance Revival


Rendered brick Stone


Above- looking down Martin Place. Bank of NSW is on the right. Date 1912 (street lamp style) - 1923 (Bank moved). But Kerry & Co. closed in 1917, so 1912-1917
Above- the site today. Westpac Building
Bank of New South Wales George Street

The Bank of New South Wales is Australia's oldest surviving bank. Founded in 1817, when Governor Lauchlan Macquarie granted a charter to give the priviledge of limited liability, it has a place in Australia's history as the first bank and first public company. For many years, it was also known as 'Macquarie's Bank' a reference to the Governor who was instrumental in its establishment. Initially, capital of £20,000 was raised, issued in £100 shares. The initial 7 year charter was extended by various amendments over the ensuing years.

Despite early setbacks when only half of the shares were sold and suitable accommodation in the heart of Sydney could not be found, the bank opened for business on 8th April, 1817, operating out of a house located in Macquarie Place, Sydney and owned by Mrs Mary Reiby, now featured on Australian $20 polymer notes.

The first recorded deposit was an amount of £50 by Jeremiah Murphy, a sergeant in the 46th Regiment. In the first year, deposits reached only £1,859. By 1920, this had slowly grown to £26,868. One share of the bank's Capital Stock, dated 1924, is shown below.

Between 1822 and 1853, the Bank's head office was relocated to a house previously owned by James Chisholm in George Street between current day Martin Place and Hunter Street. The early years of the bank were not easy. Governor Brisbane's experiment with a dollar monetary system in the early to mid-1920's resulted in the operation of dual accounting systems.
The strain almost reached breaking point when the experiment was ended by direction from the English authorities. Government backing of it's banknotes during the conversion back to sterling in 1826 saved the fledgling bank from an early demise. Since that time, the bank's growth was substantial.

Banknotes were issued at branches in Albury, Ararat, Ballarat, Bathurst, Beechworth, Brisbane, Castlemaine, Deniliquin, Geelong, Ipswich, Kyneton, Maitland, Melbourne, Mount Alexander, Newcastle, North Brisbane, Orange, Rockhampton, Sandhurst, Sydney, Tamworth and Toowoomba.

The financial strength of the bank was particularly evident during 1893 when it was one of only a handful of Australian banking institutions which did not suspend trading. With the bank's notes backed by New South Wales government legislation, their issue was instrumental in overcoming stagnant trade and commerce.


Sydney 1848-

The Public Institutions are numerous and flourishing; but as we purpose to describe them at length, as opportunity offers in the course of this Work, we shall content ourselves with briefly enumerating them in the present chapter. There are four Banks of Issue--the Bank of New South Wales, and the Commercial Bank, both Colonial; and the Union Bank of Australia, and the Bank of Australasia, Anglo-Australian. Besides these, there are--the Savings' Bank, the Royal Bank of Australia, the British Colonial Bank and Trust Company, the Scottish Australian Investment Company, the Bank of Australia, and the Loan Company. We have also an Australian Gas Light Company, an Australian Sugar Company, a Sydney Fire Insurance Company, and a Sydney Marine Insurance Company. {page 7} The Literary and Scientific Institutions are--the Australian Subscription Library, the Mechanics' School of Arts, the Australian Museum, the Society for the Promotion of the Fine Arts, and the Floral and Horticultural Society. In connexion with the last-named Institution, it may not be irrelavent to allude to the Botanical Gardens, which are subject to the management of the Government, and are kept up at the public expense. Besides these, there are numerous Lodges of Free Masons and Odd Fellows, and several Religious, Social, and Benefit Societies.