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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

Auckland Savings Banks

Auckland Savings Banks.

A brief record of the Auckland Savings Bank (it being the oldest and richest in the colony) may be given. It was founded in 1846 by Dr. Johnson, Rev. Thomas Buddie, Rev. J. F. Churton, Messrs. J. J. Symonds. J. L. Campbell, J. McDougall, David Graham, R. A. Fitzgerald, T. S. Forsaith, J. I. Montefiore, J. Dil worth. A. Kennedy, W. S. Grahame, A. Sinclair (Colonial Secretary), A. Shepherd (Colonial Treasurer), D. Rough, and W. Connell. The first meeting of the promoters took place on the 3rd December, 1846, in the store of Messrs. Brown and Campbell, when rules and regulations were arranged to be drawn up for the guidance of the embryonic institution, and the task fell to the lot of Dr. Campbell.

The Bank was opened for business on the 5th June, 1847, in the Mechanics' Institute, and on the 19th of the same month the first deposit of £10 was made by Mr. Matthew Fleming. On 29th May, 1848, the business of the Auckland Savings Bank, as a Government institution—the Savings Banks' Ordinance, 1847, having been passed in September—was carried on in the office of the Union Bank of Australia; and the first investment was made in Government 8 per cent, debentures, purchased at a discount of from 10 to 12½ per cent.

In October, 1850, the trustees asked the Governor for a temporary loan, not exceeding £300, to avoid selling their debentures, to enable them to meet the demands of their customers wishing to withdraw their savings.

In 1853, the Bank advertised that it was prepared to purchase Government debentures at par; and in the same year it notified that not more than one member of a family could become depositors, from the difficulty of obtaining investments. No Government debentures and no mortgages being obtainable, the rate of interest was reduced to 8 per cent. It was about this period that Dr. Thompson wrote that "Beggars and bankrupts were unknown, and that the settlers were heaping up money rapidly, by their exports to Australia." This was before home rule and the constitution were in operation.

In March, 1854, the trustees of the Bank invested £400 at 8 per cent, on 60 acres of land at Mount Eden, and in the following month, the manager of the Union Bank of Australia gave notice to the trustees that it would no longer be convenient to afford accommodation for the Savings Bank in his premises, when the Government gave the use of a room adjoining the Colonial Bank of Issue. In December, 1854. £300 was 2lent at 10 per cent, per annum.

In October, 1855, the Bank invested in Provincial Government debentures, bearing 10 per cent, interest for 10 years, paving 1 per cent, premium for the sum of £1000, and page 23 on the 30th January, 1856, the interest on mortgages was raised to 10 per cent. Under the operation of the Provincial Council the population was largely increased by the forty-acre land grant system, which introduced an excellent class of settlers, who brought money with them, and became customers of the bank. In 1860 the war at Taranaki broke out, which led to a large influx of British troops and some 4000 military settlers, "and as in times of war military savings banks are closed, the deposits of the regular troops, which amounted to a considerable sum, were paid into the Auckland Savings Bank."

With the withdrawal of the troops came a season of depression, and the Bank was compelled to realise some of its securities in order to meet the demands of the depositors.

The discovery of gold on the Thames revived the prosperity that had been waning, and in 1869 there was a slight increase in the business of the Bank, which increased year by year, until it was opened daily in October, 1872, and in February of the next year on Saturday evenings from seven to nine. In 1876 the Penny Bank was opened in connection with the Savings Bank, which stimulated business largely by the parents following where the children led. In 1880 the hours for banking were made from ten to three, and the trustees considered it expedient to erect new premises.

In 1857 and 1858 applications were made to the Provincial Government for a site in Queen-street, and a piece of land being part of that now occupied by the Bank was granted by the Government in August, 1859. In August. 1860, a section contiguous to that granted was also purchased for the sum of £375. In February, 1860, the Bank rented premises in Queen-street at £80 a year, and in May of the same year the trustees "decided to erect a building not to cost more than £1600 on their own site, and resolved to borrow £1200 at 10 per cent, for five years."

In 1880 the walls of the Bank building were injured by a fire, and as before stilted a new building was decided to be erected, and premiums being offered for the best designs. Mr. Bartley was awarded the first prize and Mr. H. G. Wade the second.

Mr. Bartley was directed to prepare plans and specifications and to call for tenders, when that of Mr. J. Heron was accepted. The cost of the structure, which is handsome and convenient, was about £10,000. That the Bank continues to prosper is evident from the fact that the amount on deposit at the end of the year 1889 was £488,521.