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Cockermouth Bank for Savings

Number Four Main Street, Cockermouth was built in 1846 and housed Cockermouth Bank for Savings and the Mechanics’ Institute. The clock was made by Christopher Tatham of 50, Main Street. The building is now used by a solicitors’ office and last year they cleaned out the loft. Amongst other things there were 180 passbooks for the Cockermouth Bank for Savings. They all applied to local residents who had closed their accounts in the second half of the 19th Century.

The bank was established on April 9th, 1818, with a Treasurer, a Secretary, an Auditor, six trustees and 26 directors. The list gives us the great and the good in Cockermouth in the second half of the 19th Century. The aim of the bank was to encourage individuals of the Labouring Class in Cockermouth and the Neighbourhood to save. This served to enable the bank to invest in factories, roads and railways, whilst it might enable the saver to avoid the Poor House after they finished with paid work and lost their tied accommodation.

The interest rate was between 2% and 3% and accounts were limited to £150, with an annual limit of £30. The Bank was only open on Saturday Evenings from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., although Monday 12-1 p.m. was added later. The first pass books were printed by T. Bailey & son, and later by D. Fidler of Main Street, Cockermouth.

The pass books reveal that Special General Meetings were held on 1st December 1846, 15th January 1850, 1st June 1858, 23rd January 1861, 22nd December 1863, 25th June, 1873, 8th December, 1875, 23rd December 1879, and the 15th December 1891. At each S.G.M. officials were elected. There were only two treasurers in at least 45 years, the first was Joseph Sanderson followed by Joseph Brown. The secretary was Jonathan Cooper, followed by Elizabeth Cooper and then F. Ashley Cooper. The various auditors were John Steel, Abraham Robinson, Thomas Wilson, Robert Richardson, John. S. Hellon and Robert C. Shawyer. The list of trustees contains Robert Benson, William Bragg, Rev. Edward Fawcett, Abraham Robinson, John Steel MP, William Wybergh, Richard Bell, Rev. G.R. Hoskins, John Wybergh, Lieut. Gen. Wyndham MP., Joseph Banks, Edward.B.Steel, William Wood, Jonathan Ashley, Joseph Banks, Richard Bell, Rev. H. L. Puxley, Henry Bell, Rev. Canon Hoskins, Richard Senhouse, Rev E. Green, Rev. H. Dodgson, Edward Waugh, Joseph Bowerbank, Rev. W. H. Parker, John Robertson and H. P. Senhouse. The 26 directors changed regularly and there are too many to list in this article.

Amongst the books is a lovely letter, in exemplary writing, from Mary E. Craghill of Pembridge Cottages, Keswick. It was written in June, 1895, and asked for £50 to be moved to the Cumberland Union Bank. There is also a Balance Sheet for the year ending 20th November, 1894. This reveals that the majority of the Bank’s deposits were with the Commissioners for Reduction of National Debt, a total of £33,667-11s-5d. We will bring the 180 pass books to our Summer exhibition, in order that they may be given to descendants of the Cockermouth Bank for Savings’ members.

Jack Storey

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