Between 1808 and 1811 it seemed as if everyone in Croydon wanted to start a bank.  The attraction of being able to print money seems to have been irresistable.

The bank of Watney, Moore & Smith was already in existence in 1808, probably formed between 1806 and 1807.  Daniel Watney lived in Mitcham; his son, James, later founded the Watney brewing dynasty.  George Smith was an ironmonger in Croydon.  The bank was located in Croydon High Street and traded as 'Surry Bank'.  The bank failed in 1816.

In 1808, the banks of Miller & Co. and of Harman & Tait were both formed. 

Miller ran an ironmongers shop in Croydon High Street.  Miller & Co.'s bank failed in 1811.

Anthony Harman and John Tait were brewers in Tonbridge and in Riverhead, both in Kent. Anthony Harman started a bank in Croydon with a Thomas Tait in 1808. They later opened branches in Reigate and in Westerham, Kent.  The bank failed in 1816, with the partnership being formally dissolved on 20th March 1817.

By 1811, the bank of Brown & Co. was in existence and in that year, when Brown dropped out of the partnership it changed its trading name to Phillipson & Co.  John Phillipson was one of five partners.  The bank failed in 1816.


In about 1838, Croydon Union Bank was started by George Chasemore, (John) William Sutherland and Thomas Leedham Robinson.  George Chasemore was a miller (occupying Waddon Mill), William Sutherland a wine merchant, and Thomas Robinson had previously been the manager of the Croydon branch of the London & County joint-stock bank.

During the late 1860s and early 1870s Henry Chasemore and William Mosse Robinson joined their fathers’ business, which henceforth became Chasemore, Robinson & Sons. In 1873, the bank started trading as the Union Bank of Croydon.

On 31st December 1891 the business was sold to the Union Bank of London, (who had been their London agents ever since the bank was established), for £37,000.

Cheque issued by Union Bank of Croydon


The final private bank to be formed in Croydon was also one of the strangest.Thomas Farrow started his bank, in Croydon, in 1904, under the Friendly Societies Act, with the chief object of enabling small traders to obtain loans at reasonable rates of interest. Farrow had qualified for a solicitor, but became secretary to the First Lord of the Treasury and later to Mr Robert Yerbrugh, President of the Agricultural Banks Association. In this connection he investigated the subject of usury. His work, and evidence before a House of Commons select committee, ultimately led to the Moneylenders Act of 1900. It was Farrow’s perception of this act as a failure that led him to start his own bank.

Cheque issued by Kingston branch of Farrow's Bank

From its beginning the bank treated its depositors generously; on current accounts which maintained a minimum balance of £10, 2½% interest was allowed, and deposit accounts withdrawable at six months notice - 5%. Interest on deposit accounts was at this time something not previously known. This was naturally popular and branches soon spread over the country. For a while the bank had three branches in Croydon.

In 1909 the bank was advertising branches in every county in the country.  There was even a special branch in Knightsbridge 'managed by women for women'.

After such a promising start, things started to go very wrong.  Due to the consequences of some unsound investments, in December 1920 the bank suspended payment.  Farrow was arrested a few days later, charged with falsification of accounts and sentenced to four years penal servitude. Creditors received 5s 3d (26p) in the pound. Thousands of ordinary people found that they had lost every penny they had.