High Street, Leighton Buzzard
The history of the current Barclays Bank
building has its foundations in 1812 when five of the town's Quakers,
founded the Leighton Buzzard Bank. They were Peter Bassett, John
Grant, William Exton, Joseph Sharples and John Dollin Bassett.
1820 the partnership was fomalised by a deed of Articles of Partnership.
The partners eventually owned a number of branches
throughout Bedfordshire and the bank at Leighton traded as Bassett,
Grant & Co.
the mid 1820s the partnership had been reduced to just John Dollin
Bassett and John Grant, and the bank then
traded as Bassett & Grant. The introduction of John Dollin
Bassett's sons, Peter John Bassett and later Francis Bassett
into the partnership led to the name changing to Bassett Grant
& Bassett and then to Bassett Grant Bassett & Co.
After the death of John Grant and then subsequently his widow
in 1853, the Grant family relinquished their rights to running
By 1854, Theodore Harris (a brother-in-law to Francis
Bassett) was admitted as a partner and the bank's name changed
once again, this time to
Harris. In 1864 Richard Littleboy was added as a partner, and he
ran the Newport Pagnell branch.
In 1866 the bank was completely re-built, and this
is the building which we see today. The new building was designed
by Alfred Waterhouse (later in his career he was responsible for
the Town Hall in Manchester, Law Courts in The Strand, and the
Natural History Museum in South Kensington, London). Architectural
illustrations of the new bank building and an article appeared
in the 21st December 1866 edition of the journal "The Building
News" (see below). The short article reads as
Messrs. Bassett and Co.'s New Bank, Leighton Buzzard.
Our illustration this week is of a building at Leighton
Buzzard on the eve of completion. It consists of a banking room
35ft. by 24ft. approached through a vestibule and having at its
rear a recess 20ft. wide leading to a large partner's room, a private
room, and a staircase descending to safes for papers &c. The principal
safe (on the bank floor) is enclosed with riveted wrought-iron
plates 3/8in. thick at the sides, ends, and top, the bottom being
1/4in. ribbed plate. From the passage at the side of the building
entrance is obtained to a commodius dwelling house above the bank.
The front is of Ancaster stone. The carving is by Mr. Earp, the
grotesque figures terminating the labels over the ground-floor
windows being especially vigorous in treatment. Mr. Kimberley,
of Danbury, is the general contractor. The bank fittings are being
executed by Messrs. Smee and Son, of Finsbury, in oak, mahogany,
and ebony, from the designs of the architect, Mr. Waterhouse.