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Bank Stock Office, 1791-1793 (73)

The Bank Stock Office, just north of the Bartholomew Lane vestibule, represented Soane's first major work at the Bank of England. In November 1790, two years after his appointment as the company's architect, Soane examined the poor condition of the wooden roof timbers erected to Robert Taylor's design in 1765-68. A year later, on 19 November 1791, Soane's assistant Thomas Chawner surveyed the existing hall (drawing 1). Shortly after, Soane delivered preliminary remodelling designs to the Bank's directors, on 24 November and 6 December 1791 (Bank of England Museum drawings M39 i-iv).
 
In early December 1791, Soane's colleague and mentor George Dance applied himself to the problem of renovating Taylor's hall, producing a number of studies (drawings 59-63), several of which Soane received on 11 December 1791 at Barnet, north of London.
In late December 1791, Soane's office Day Book records some work by Chawner and another assistant, Frederick Meyer, drawing plans and perspectives of the hall.
 
Soane continued to work on the designs and on 6 February 1792 'produced a plan and model for covering' the Bank Stock Office, showing it to the Committee for Building, and they agreed for it to be carried into execution (Bank of England Archive, M5/478, Committee for Building Minute Book, pp. 115-16, 6 February 1791).
 
Soane and his assistants worked on several schemes in February and March 1792 (Day Book; drawings 8 and 12), and probably settled the design during this latter month. Unfortunately, very few of the drawings related to the Bank Stock Office are dated, making it impossible to trace precisely the design and construction process.
 
From an analysis of the drawings it seems the design process was largely driven by practical considerations: to maintain the existing walls and foundations, to build an incombustible roof, and to adequately light and heat the hall. After abandoning the initial triple-lantern scheme, the final design with groin-vaulted end-bays lit by clerestory lunettes and a lantern-domed crossing carried on pendentives flanked by side aisles was probably settled by Soane in March 1792.
 
Demolition of Taylor's hall and Soane's renovation probably began in the late spring of 1792. On 30 November 1792, Soane asked the Bank's deputy governor for £300 more to finish (Letter from Soane to Godfrey Thornton, Bank of England, 561).
 
In February and March 1792, another model was produced of the hall, nearly as built (SM MR20). In April 1793, the heating system was installed (drawings 44-48). And in late July 1793, the Bank occupied the new hall (Bank of England Archive, G8/5, Committee of Treasury Minutes, p. 275, 25 July 1793; and SM Note Book, 25 July 1793).
 
The Bank Stock Office was demolished in 1925 for Herbert Baker's rebuilding of the whole Bank of England. However, Soane's original design was reconstructed in 1986-88, as part of the Bank of England Museum.
 
Literature:
A.T. Bolton, The Works of Sir John Soane, 1924;  J. Summerson, 'Soane: the case-history of a personal style', Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 3rd series, LVIII, 1951, pp. 83-91; J. Summerson, 'The evolution of Soane's Bank Stock Office in the Bank of England', Architectural History, volume 27, 1984, pp. 135-149; D, Stroud, Sir John Soane, architect, 1996, pp.62, 66, 156, 252; J. Summerson, 'The Evolution of Soane's Bank Stock Office in the Bank of England', The Unromantic castle, 1990, pp. 143-156 
 
D. Abramson, 'A Catalogue of the Bank of England Bank Stock Office drawings at the Sir John Soane's Museum', typescript, 1997 (copy at Soane Museum) was first written by Daniel Abramson as part of his PhD which was later published (without catalogue) as Building the Bank of England: money, architecture, society 1694-1942 in 2005. Abramson's original catalogue has been transcribed into the following online catalogue by Emma Smith (2010) with minor additions and alterations.
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