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Acquiring property for the north-east extension, 1792-94; and improvements to streets, 1797 (7)

In 1789 Soane was directed to make a valuation of the property belonging to Mr Robert Haines and others on Lothbury, Princes Street and St Bartholomew's Lane. Soane valued the Haines estate at £4,308 but the owners requested £10,000. Eventually, in February 1791, the Haines properties were offered for £7,000 and duly purchased (Acres, p. 393). In 1793 an Act of Parliament was secured for permission to purchase the remaining properties. The eventual acquisition of 17 properties (and the warren of alleys and courts in between) allowed the Bank to extend its buildings to the boundaries of its site, thereby isolating the premises and furthering its safety. With the war against revolutionary France from 1793, the anxiety of a possible invasion was compounded by the protests and riots of England's own straitened citizens. Safety, therefore, was the primary impetus for the north-east extension.

At this time Soane was appointed Attorney to the Bank and thus in charge of negotiating the purchase of these neighbouring properties. Upon acquisition, he first built an encircling screen wall mid-1797. The directors had considered building commercial space on Lothbury Street and leasing it, as with the Bank Buildings erected by Robert Taylor in 1765. By 1795, however, this idea was dropped in favour of a greater security. The drawings show Soane's preliminary designs for the north-east extension. The commercial offices were to front Lothbury Street with space behind for a Consols Transfer Offices, adjoining offices and a passage to a Bullion Court.

Most of the houses to the north-east belonged to the Haines estate, which the Bank purchased in 1792. Another cluster of houses on the north-west corner of Bartholomew Lane had been left by Mary Gransdon in 1719 to the Vicar of Deptford for poor boys and girls in two schools. The Bank purchased the houses from the trustees in July 1796. Later, in the summer of 1797, the Building Committee requested that Soane apply to the Committee of City Lands for improving the streets around the Bank.

Literature: H. Rooksby Steele and F.R. Yerbury, The Old Bank of England, London, 1930, p. 13; W. Marston Acres, The Bank of England from Within, Oxford, 1931, p. 393-395; D. Abramson, Money's architecture: the building of the Bank of England, 1731-1833, Doctoral thesis for the Department of Fine Arts, Harvard University, 1993.

Madeleine Helmer, 2010