Barclays Bank, Lombard Street (London): board, management and head office records

Scope and Content

This collection, reflecting the highest level in the Barclays Group, comprises three principal elements: records of the main boards and their committees; records of the chair (the chairman was an executive throughout this period); records of board-appointed managers including the general managers.

The records comprise:

  • board: complete series of signed minutes from first board meeting July 1896; agenda papers extant from 1962 onwards; amalgamation papers (including agreements and valuations) for the 1896 merger and for banks acquired subsequently; annual report and accounts and balance sheets; records of general meetings including verbatim transcripts of AGMs,1916 onwards; directors' files including inspection papers and reports
  • chair: subject files and correspondence (mostly 1920s onwards) including policy, products, districts and regions, directors and staff, departments, relations with UK and foreign banks, customers and government; amalgamations, organization, management methods, Martins merger, planning, visit reports
  • general managers: subject files (mostly 1950s onwards) covering similar subjects as for chair (above)

Administrative / Biographical History

Barclay & Company Limited was created as a new joint stock bank in 1896, by the merger of 20 distinct banking companies, all but one being private partnerships. This was reported at the time as the largest banking merger then known. The principal bank in the merger was Barclays itself, which traces its beginnings from a private goldsmith-banking partnership in Lombard Street founded in 1690 by John Freame and Thomas Gould. The first Barclay to enter the partnership was James in the early 1730s.

Between 1896 and 1919 Barclays experienced rapid growth, both organic and by the acquisition of provincial banks with the aim of achieveing national coverage: by 1920 Barclays had become one of the 'big five' clearers.

In 1925 Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial & Overseas) was created from three existing London-based overseas banks that Barclays had acquired, thereby securing a major presence for the Group in Africa, the Caribbean, and Egypt and the Mediterranean. From the 1920s onwards the Barclays Group extended its operations into France, Italy, Germany and North America, and, from the 1980s onwards, to Iberia. From the 1970s onwards Barclays entered the international corporate and investment banking markets of Asia and the Middle East. In 1968 it also acquired another major UK clearing bank, Martins.

In the post-World War Two era Barclays became a leader in banking innovation: examples include staff training programmes (1945), ordering a mainframe computer for branch accounting (1959), introducing the UK's first universal credit card (Barclaycard 1966), pioneering the first street cash machines (Barclaycash 1967), and introducing the UK's first debit card (Connect 1987).

The company name was changed in 1917 to Barclays Bank Limited, and again in 1982 to Barclays Bank PLC. In 1985 the Group underwent a major reorganization, adopting its present structure with Barclays PLC as the holding company.


Records are arranged to reflect the management structure e.g. board, chairman, general managers; and within these, as series.

Access Information

Barclays Group Archives is open to access for bona fide research visitors throughout the year, by appointment. E-mail: Full contact details: Barclays Group Archives, Dallimore Road, Wythenshawe, Manchester M23 9JA. Telephone +44 (0) 330 151 0159. Fax +44 (0) 330 151 0153.

Most management and administrative records are open to research when 30 years old; access to some material may be restricted or closed for reasons of commercial or third-party confidentiality.

Acquisition Information

Former historical records section of company secretary's office; subsequent accruals received from this and chairman's office, and directly from management.

Other Finding Aids

Searchable catalogue available locally on BGA's 'Archives' database; bespoke lists may be generated from specific search requests.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction or publication of records subject to the written permission of an archivist.

Custodial History

Barclays had a historical records section in head office from at least the 1960s, managed by staff in the company secretary's office with the title of archivist. In 1989 the first professionally trained archivist was appointed with the remit of centralising the historical records and collecting additional material deemed worthy of permanent preservation.


The official published histories of Barclays are to a greater or lesser extent based upon the archives:

  • Barclays: the Business of Banking 1690-1996 by M Ackrill and L Hannah (Cambridge University Press 2001). This book won the Wadsworth Prize for business history.
  • Barclays Bank Limited 1926-1969 by A W Tuke and R J H Gillman (Barclays Bank Ltd. 1972).
  • History of Barclays Bank Limited by P W Matthews and A W Tuke (priv printed 1926)

Corporate Names