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Bristol: Bank of England branch: survey drawings, designs for alterations and related documents for eight premises including the selected one in Bridge Street, 1826-1827 (32)

George Bailey spent much time in October 1826 searching for a suitable premises for the Bank of England branch in Bristol. Certainly he surveyed more properties during that month than the three suggested by W. Marston Acres, as drawings for eight separate buildings are found within this scheme. He had already visited a property on Bridge Parade owned by Messrs Pitt, Powell and Fripps (drawings 1-5) on 4 September. Five more properties were surveyed between 30 September and 5 October (drawings 6-15), and another two when Bailey was back in Bristol from 12-16 October (drawings 16-22). It was the last of these - Mr John Gardiner's premises on Bridge Street - that was selected by the Bank for the new branch.

The Bristol branch of the Bank of England was opened on 12 July 1827 with John May as agent. The bank house was occupied by Robert Morris, the sub-agent. Substantial interior alterations were required in order to convert the premises into a functioning bank (drawings 23-28). Complaints from the sub-agent Robert Morris about the 'great inconvenience' he suffered 'in consequence of St Peter's Hospital, which includes many lunatic patients, being separated by a court of only about 6 feet wide from the back part of the branch bank' was remedied with the stopping up of some windows in the hospital (drawings 30-32).

In 1848, the branches at Gloucester and Bristol were consolidated and moved into a new building at 13-14 Broad Street, Bristol designed by Soane's successor as Architect for the Bank of England, C.R. Cockerell (1788-1863). This building still stands and is listed Grade I. The old bank branch premises on Bridge Street remained unoccupied until 1852, when they were leased to a Mrs Hollins, who converted the property into the 'Bank Hotel'. This building was subsequently destroyed during the blitz in November 1940.

A map of Bristol in the Soane collection (SM 57a/3/3), dated 'June 1st 1825', has been amended to show the locations of the various premises considered for the branch bank. Properties surveyed are added or shaded in pen.

Literature:
W. Marston Acres, The Bank of England from Within, 1694-1900, Vol. II, 1931, pp. 433 & 565-73; A. Foyle and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Somerset: North and Bristol, 2011, p. 286; English Heritage, Former Bank of England, Bristol, <www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk>

Tom Drysdale, February 2013
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