Barclays Bank: records of head office departments

Scope and Content

This collection comprises the administrative records of head office departments, from the formation of the joint stock company (some series are continuations of pre-1896 records), to the reorganization of the Group under the Barclays Bank Act of 1984.

The departments whose records are represented include:

  • Accountant (ledgers: investment 1877 onwards, Head Office 1896-1970s, premises; statistics; papers re disclosure of reserves c1969)
  • Advertising & Marketing (examples of advertising and recruitment materials 1940s onwards, sales and training material)
  • Barclayard
  • Clearing (statistics, staff registers 1895-1944)
  • Foreign (registers of daily sterling exchange rates 1914 onwards)
  • General Managers' Office (Head Office circulars and instructions 1896 onwards, arrangements with other banks, small advances registers 1920s-50s; papers re: Martins merger 1968-70, preparation of annual report and accounts 1909-1970, rebuilding of 54 Lombard Street 1930s-71)
  • Inspection
  • Management Services 1960s onwards (computers, automation, time and motion)
  • Planning
  • Premises (photographs and plans of branches, departments and head office sites early 1900s onwards; examples of signage and banking equipment, premises registers, schedules of deeds, war damage claims)
  • Registrar (register of shareholders 1896-1950)
  • Secretary (sealing registers 1896 onwards, papers re directors and officials; subject files: capital, remuneration, Group organization and structure, mergers and acquisitions inc Martins, policy, subsidiary operations)
  • Staff (rulebooks, handbooks, training materials, computer manuals, statistics, rulings files, disciplinary casebooks, index cards for women resigned, war service papers)
  • Stationery (examples of bank forms)

Administrative / Biographical History

Barclay & Company Limited was created as a new joint stock bank in 1896, by the merger of 20 distinct banking compnaies, 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 achieving 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 fior 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 and described to reflect the departmental structure of the company during the period.

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

Head office departments

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.

Related Material

see also GB 2044 B BARCLAYS 1896-1985 for the highest level in Barclays Group Archives, being the records of the main board, chair and senior management


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)