The History of Bradford & Bingley & Where they are Now

What is Bradford & Bingley?

Bradford & Bingley was a merger of two Yorkshire businesses. They sold savings, insurance, and investment products.

Find out how they became the best in the business and ultimately fell to their demise.

Bradford and Bingley Building society logo.
Bradford and Bingley Building society logo. (

Page Contents:

The beginning of Bradford & Bingley Building Society

In 1964, the Bradford & Bingley Building Society was formed. This was a merger of Bradford Equitable Building Society and Bingley Permanent Building Society.

The origins of these two societies can both be traced back to the middle of the nineteenth century.

There had actually been earlier societies in both Bradford and Bingley. The Bradford Union Building Society was founded in 1825, and a terminal Building Society in Bingley as early as 1807.

A terminal society was usually wound up as soon as it had raised the funds needed to build the scheme. On the other hand, a permanent society continues to build funds.


Bradford Second Equitable Building Society

On the 18th of August 1851, the Bradford Second Equitable Building Society was formed. There were 503 investors each buying £120 of shares which is roughly £17,900.

In 1858, the Bradford Union was wound up. The Bradford Second Equitable moved to new premises in Darley Street.

The Bradford Second Equitable Building Society, 21 Bank Street, Bradford. 1912. (
The Bradford Second Equitable Building Society

Over the next two decades, more working class people started to save with them. By 1880, they had a profit of £40,000 which is roughly £5,127,000 in today’s money.

In 1898, Bradford was granted city status. A programme of slum clearance began which led to the society prospering.

Thirteen years later in 1911, they were able to purchase a typewriter and also installed a telephone. By the following year, their assets were more than £1 million (£125,508,000 today).

Bradford Second Equitable’s reputation as a major financial institution was cemented during World War I. This happened when society loaned large amounts of money to the government to finance the war effort.

Bradford Second Equitable’s reputation was cemented during the First World War. They were known as a major financial institution.

This happened when society loaned large amounts of money to the government to finance the war effort. It enabled them to open new premises in Bank Street in 1920.

Further government confidence came during World War II. The business became an official agent for the sale of National Savings Certificates and Defence Bonds.

By the end of the war, they had assets of over £10 million. This meant that they were able to open branches in both Manchester and Glasgow.

In 1946, the society became the Bradford Equitable Building Society. There were many mergers with several smaller societies.

Churchill’s 1951 Conservative Government set a target of building 300,000 new homes. During this time, they were able to do this as society had increased their assets to over £22 million.

This increased further throughout the next decade. By the time of their merger with Bingley, they were worth £56 million (just over £1.2 billion in today’s money) with 23 branches across Britain.

Saltaire 1850. Heritage site and residential area, Bradford.
Sketch of Saltaire 1850, Built by Sir Titus Salt.

Bingley, Morton and Shipley Permanent Benefit Building Society

In 1851, the Bingle, Morton and Shipley Permanent Benefit Building Society was formed. However, it was much smaller than the Bradford company.

In total it had £5,000 worth of investment. This was lent to just 9 members.

It was to be successful in the first few decades. This was thanks to a building scheme of 42 new streets in Bingley, and Sir Titus Salt’s model village at nearby Saltaire.

As a result, during the 1890’s, the business was able to expand. They purchased their own offices at Queen Street in Bingley.

In 1929, they simply became known as the Bingley Building Society. In total it has assets worth £3 million which is roughly £203,070,000 in today’s money.

Their first office outside of the North of England was in London. This opened in 1935 and by their centenary year in 1951 their assets totalled £17 million.

By the time of the merger with Bradford, they had 29 branches nationally. Overall, their total assets of £46 million.

Bradford & Bingley Building Society

On the 1st of July in 1964, the Bradford & Bingley Building Society officially opened. They had assets over £100 million and 50 branches making them the country’s 8th largest society at the time.

By 1967, they were lending a record £37 million. Overall they had increased their assets to £178 million.

In 1973, the society’s assets reached £500 million. As a result, they were able to build brand new head offices in Bingley.

A year later in 1974, they created an advertising campaign. They introduced the famous bowler hatted ‘Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley’.

By 1999, the society was the second largest in Britain with over 2.5 million members. Their assets were totaled at £18 billion.

In 2000, the board of directors decided to float the company on the Stock Exchange. As a result, Bradford and Bingley Plc was formed in December of that year.

Santander is the Spanish group that took over Bradford and Bingley after the credit crunch took its toll in 2008.

Where is Bradford & Bingley Now?

By 2008, the credit crunch in Britain had led to a dramatic fall in the company’s assets. In total 370 jobs were lost.

The company was partially nationalised. This led the government to take on the mortgage and lending concerns.

At the same time, the savings side of the business was sold to Spanish Santander Group. They also took over the Abbey National as well as Alliance and Leicester.

The branch network of all three was renamed Santander. At the same time, the name Bradford & Bingley still remained for the section of the business under government ownership.

In January 2015, the old Bradford & Bingley offices were demolished. This was to the delight of local residents in the town.