The Burton Union Bank was established in 1839 as the Burton, Uttoxeter & Staffordshire Union Bank. It was the result of a merger of two local private banks: Henry Clay & Co., set up in 1790, and Blurton, Webb & Peel, founded in 1806.
Expansion and Consolidation
The customer base reflected the nature of the industries in the area, particularly brewing, for which Burton upon Trent was, and still is, well-renowned. Brewers also numbered amongst the Bank’s original shareholders. Business was brisk for the first few years, which led to a decision to expand beyond Burton. Branches were opened in Uttoxeter in 1839, and Ashbourne in 1843.
However, plans for further expansion were halted, following a series of banking crises in the 1840s and 1850s. With investor confidence declining, many joint-stock banks were either forced to close, or accept a drop in their profits. Although the Bank survived intact, its directors resolved to consolidate business in the three towns, for the time being.
In 1890, the Bank resumed its expansion across the West Midlands, opening a branch in Swadlincote. The board was impressed by the amount of new business this generated, and by 1899 it had sanctioned the opening of eight further branches. However, the Burton Union was still a relatively small joint-stock bank, and found it difficult to resist the advances of its larger competitors. The directors agreed that the best way to safeguard their customers’ interests would be to accept an offer of a takeover. In 1899, it was bought by Lloyds Bank.