Bank of England
The Bank of England was founded on 27 July 1694 as a private bank that would act as a banker to the government and that would fund the war effort against France. The original royal charter of 1694, explained that the bank was founded to promote the public Good and Benefit of our People.1
The bank officially opened for business on 1 August 1694. Sir John Houblon became the first governor of the bank. In 1711, the establishment of the South Sea Company threatened the bank's position as the government's banker and owner of national debt, as the stock prices rose for the South Sea Company, creating a “frenzy” of investments. When the company's prices crashed, thousands of people were “ruined.”2
In 1734, the Bank of England moved to Threadneedle Street, where it still stands today. Over the next 100 years, the bank bought many of the adjacent properties until it owned a 3.5-acre site.3 The Bank of England established its first branches in 1826 as a response to the financial crisis of 1825-26. The bank's first branch opened in Gloucester on 19 July 1826. The Gloucester branch was the most short-lived branch as it was never very profitable, the business was transferred to Bristol in 1849.4
The Bank Charter Act of 1844 gave the bank more independent powers and formalized the issuance of banknotes in the UK. In 1870, the Chief Cashier became the only one at the Bank of England who was able to sign banknotes, a tradition which has continued to this day.5 In 1894, Miss Janet Hogarth became the first woman officially recorded as working for the bank.
The Bank of England was nationalized in 1946 and is still functioning today.6
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