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29 to 33 George Street Luton

George Street in 1901
George Street in 1901 - to see a larger version, please click on the image

29 to 33 George Street is National Westminster Bank. The current buildings are modern but there may have been a bank on this site for over a hundred and fifty years.

The earliest mention of 29 George Street is in a directory of 1885 when it was occupied by straw plait merchant James Gentle, who had been listed at Chapel Street in 1877. He shared 29 George Street with George Wing, boot maker. By 1894 the occupier was Eliza Haselgrove, tobacconist, the last mention of this premises in directories but by 1928 the Westminster Bank had expended into the premises from Number 31.

By the 1854 the London and County Bank stood in George Street. This bank was established in 1834 and was later known as the Westinster Bank. The manager in Luton in the 1850s was the splendidly named Mr. Bigg and the X95 collection contains considerable business correspondence between Mr. Bigg and Luton brewer Thomas Sworder who hovered close to bankruptcy for many years. It seems at least possible that this institution stood at 31 George Street. In 1968 the Westminster Bank merged with the National Provincial Bank (which had been at 59 George Street since 1920) to form the National Westminster Bank.

33 George Street was Eastmans Limited, butchers (which was at 23 George Street from at least 1898) in 1894. By 1928 the Westminster Bank had expended into the premises from Number 31.

29 (nearest the camera) to 41 George Street about 1900 [Z1306/75]
29 (nearest the camera) to 41 George Street about 1900 [Z1306/75]

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Most of Bedfordshire was valued in 1927. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service is lucky in having the valuer's notebook covering most of George Street. Evidence in the book shows that the survey of George Streettook place in 1928.

The Westminster Bank then occupied 29 to 33 George Street. The frontage to George Street was 40 feet 3 inches. The valuer commented: Modern Stone Building with clock floors - very lofty office. Fine cut stone one storey building"

The public offices on the ground floor measured 29 feet 6 inches by 17 feet 6 inches and 26 feet by 16 feet 6 inches. A smaller office measured 7 feet 6 inches by 12 feet. The bank manager's office measured 11 feet by 14 feet 6 inches. A cloakroom measured 8 feet by 9 feet 6 inches. The bank had three strong rooms measuring 17 feet 6 inches by 9 feet 9 inches, 15 feet 6 inches by 12 feet and 17 feet by 13 feet.

The manager's apartment contained a kitchen measuring 10 feet by 12 feet wit ha scullery, a sitting room measuring 10 feet by 19 feet and two bedrooms measuring 10 feet by 14 feet and 8 feet 6 inches by 11 feet. Kelly's Directory for 1928 gives the manager's name as Harold Reginald Horn.

29 to 33 George Street June 2010
29 to 33 George Street June 2010