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A bank is wanted much in this town. The distance to Newton or Totnes being eight miles is most inconvenient.
Western Times 1 June 1850  p7 col4

In 1774 George III issued a proclamation to the effect that 'diminished' gold coinage was to be collected and exchanged. 

Richard Eales and John Dolbeare were the people in Ashburton authorized to perform this task.
London Gazette Issue 11478 26 July 1774, p1


'Before my apprenticeship my parents worked hard to bring up a family of seven children, and although in the early part of their life they were in tolerable good circumstances, my father had the misfortune to lose all his little earnings by the failure of the Ashburton Bank, in 1801.'*
Reminiscences of John Hele, of Alphington, Devon, John Hele, Exeter, 1870, piii
*Actually 1810?

Above: One pound note from the Ashburton Bank, dated 1808.
Many thanks to Jeremy Parker for this image

Banks were struggling in the middle of 1810. 'Notwithstanding the general alarm' the Bristol Mirror was pleased to report that the Western Banks were conducting themselves 'most honourably'. The Ashburton Bank of Messrs Abraham and Co. had received £50,000 in Bank of England notes, and judging that there was a surplus 'beyond what could possibly be required' they returned it to their bankers in London. One parcel of circa £2000 was stolen by four men on the mail coach between Exeter and Bath - they replaced the notes with straw.
Bristol Mirror 28 July 1810, p3 col4

In 1810 the Exeter Flying Post posted a statement from the Ashburton Bank, which told of 'unexpected and heavy demands'. Payments of cash and banknotes were suspended, but the bank said that a statement would shortly be produced showing all credits and debits, promising that this would show a healthy balance.
Exeter Flying Post 6 September 1810 p1 col2

A Certificate of Bankruptcy to be awarded to Robert Abraham, Banker, Money-Scrivener, Dealer and Chapman
London Gazette Issue 16755 20 July 1813, p25

For a promissory note from the Ashburton Bank, see the Virtual museum 1800s section.

R Abraham is still being shown under Bankers for Ashburton two years later, 'draw on Esdaile and Co., Lombard-street'.
Crosby's Complete Pocket Gazetteer, London, 1815, p19

'Harburton, near Totness, October 5th 1825.
Sir, Having read, a few months ago excellent article on the subject of the vile paper currency of this country and the ruinous system kept up by the issues of notes from country banks, I am induced to lay before you a few facts...The runs on the local banks, in this part of the county, have been excessive...Within these last twelve years, and certainly within the space of thirty miles from this place, I recollect the failure of the following banks: a fact more serious in its consequences, I venture to affirm, cannot be paralleled in any country in the world. [A list of 13 banks follows, of which Robert Abraham's Ashburton Bank is one]'
Cobbett's Weekly Register, vol 55, July-September 1825, London 1825, p200

Dividends were paid out to creditors of the bank for several years. It was not until 1835 that the Commissioners in a Commission of Bankruptcy met for a final time (at the London Inn) to audit the accounts and make a final dividend of the estate and effects. Any creditors who had not already proved their claim were to come prepared to do so, or their claim would be disallowed.
Western Times 1 August 1835, p1 col1


                                                      Browne, Winsor and Cuming
Above and below: A pound bank note issued by Mssrs Browne, Winsor and Cuming.
Many thanks to the British Museum
Published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) Licence
© The Trustees of the British Museum

When John Winsor and his wife Susanna have a daughters baptized in June 1817 and October 1818, John is described as a banker.
Ashburton Baptisms 1813-1821 Devon FHS 2006
Parish register

Letitia Dorothea Cuming. Born in Ashburton in 1786*, she was the daughter of George Winsor and Letitia Luscombe of Totnes. It was Letitia's brother John Winsor who was part of the Ashburton Bank. She married Francis Brooking Cuming, a solicitor who entered banking  and became a partner in Brown, Winsor and Cuming. However, Francis died in 1822, and  his wife was left his share of the partnership. 

Women who made Money, Women Partners in British Private Banks, 1752-1906, Margaret Dawes and Nesta Selwyn, Trafford publishing, 2010, p133

* George Winsor married Letitia Luscombe, 2nd January 1781. Letitia Dorothea Winser was baptised 21st Feb 1787, Ashburton, daughter of George and Letitia. Letitia Dorothea Winsor married Francis Cuming 1st March 1814

'We regret to say that the Ashburton Bank, of Mssrs Brown, Winsor and Cuming, suspended payments yesterday evening (Thursday) after a tremendous run of several days (Devonshire Freeholder).'
Galignani's Messenger, Paris, 9 December 1825

'By a letter from Ashburton, we find that the bank of Messrs Brown, Winsor and Co. which recently stopped payment, will pay off their notes on the 2d of January next; indeed their notes are now current among the tradesmen of that place. In the present agitated state of public credit, we have much pleasure in giving publicity to this information.'
Galignani's Messenger, December 16, 1825

In 1825 there was a run of several days on the bank of Mssrs Brown, Winsor and Cuming. Rumours that the bank was suspending payments were current in the morning, and were 'fully confirmed' in the afternoon.
Devonshire Freeholder, reported in Palmer's Index to The Times, 6 December 1825, p2 col4

11 December 1858 'At Ashburton, aged 76, John Winsor esq., for many years one of the firm of the Ashburton Bank.
Gentleman's Magazine, London, 1858, p118


In 1827 a house was sold in East Street - it had a walled garden, outhouses, courtlege and a stable. It was 'lately used as a bank and now occupied by Mr Terry'
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 12 May 1827 p1 col4

This is possibly the same building which housed a large safe until the latter part of the 20th century. It was roughly in the area of No 81 East Street.
Thanks to Wendy Major for this recollection                         


                                                          Watts, Whidbourne and Co.

(Later the Capital and Counties Bank, and later still, Lloyds)

1837 Ashburton. Devon and Cornwall Banking Co. (branch) - R Bean, Manager. Draws on Barclay, Tritton and Co.
Pigot and Co.'s National Commercial Directory of the whole of Scotland and the Isle of Man etc., London, 1837.

1862 Messrs Watts, Whidborne and Moir opened a branch at Ashburton
Western Times 27 Dec 1862 p3 col 2

From Morris and Co's Commercial Directory and Gazetteer 1870: Watts, Whidbourne and Co., bankers, West Street (branch of ) draw on Williams, Deacon and Co. London. Manager - William Creber (see cheque in the 1880s section of the Virtual museum)

Above: Bank House, 22 West Street. Where Watts, Whidbourne and Co. operated from? In the 1871 census two households are in between the Exeter Inn and where William Creber, bank manager, is living.
My own photograph 2016

1871 Census RG10, piece no. 2080, folio 57, p25

Notice is hereby given that all persons being creditors of or otherwise having any claims upon or against the estate of William Creber, late of Ashburton, Devon, Bank Manager, deceased (who died the 17th September 1875, and whose will was proved 1st October 1875 in the Exeter Court of Probate, by John Hellyer Tozer of Teignmouth, Devon, Gentleman, one of the executors of the said will) are required on or before the 25th December 1875 to send to the said John Hellyer Tozer, or to Messrs Whidborne and Tozer, of Teignmouth, Devon, the solicitors of the said executor, the particulars of their claims...'

The London Gazette, part 4, October 1st 1875, p5237

Above: J Bickford, bank clerk, Ashburton, witnessed John Sparke Amery's signature on a mining lease in 1873 (See Quarries and Mines)
This may be John Bickford, who by the 1881 census was a 30 year old bank manager. When his mother died in July 1891 he was manager of the Capital and Counties Bank, Ashburton.
1881 census RG11, piece no. 2161, folio 55, p26
Western Times 21 July 1891, p2 col6
From my own collection

Left: A letter sent to Mr Firth Esq., solicitor, from the Ashburton Bank, informing him that the interest rate on an account is going to be reduced to 2½%

1891 the four businesses (Dawlish, Teignmouth, Ashburton and Newton Abbot) were transferred to the Capital and Counties Bank Ltd

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 13 Feb 1891 p4 col 4 and Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 16 Feb 1891 p5 col 4

In 1892 Henry Stevens was clearing the area where the Duke's Head and an adjoining house had been. The Capital and Counties Bank was to occupy the site.
Western Times 17 March 1892 p4 col6

1893 The new premises of the Capital and Counties Bank were opened at the Bullring.
Exeter Flying Post 5 August 1893 p7 col1

Above: Centre of picture ˄

The Capital and Counties Bank 

Items above and above left from my own collection
W P Rendell was appointed manager of the Ashburton branch of the Capital and Counties Bank in 1901.

Edward Babington Lenton was the manager in 1902
Totnes Weekly Times 7 December 1901 p3 col4
Kelly's Directory of Devon 1902, p32

From Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, Brent and Ivybridge Almanac 1906:

Banks - Capital and Counties Bank, East St, manager - Mr W P Rendell

1921 Mr B Balkwill, manager of Lloyds' Bank, was appointed treasurer of the Ashburton and Buckfastleigh Cottage Hospital.
Western Times 13 May 1921 p10 col1

From Kelly's Directory of Devonshire 1935:

B W Blight, manager Lloyds Bank, East St. He had succeeded Mr. E Dyson as manager in 1934, and retired in 1950, after 44 years service.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 13 October 1950 p6 col3

Bertram William B Blight's birth was registered at Stoke Damerel in the last quarter of 1890.
His address on his attestation papers of 1915/16 is 60, Peverell Park Road, Plymouth, the address where he was living with his parents and brother in the 1911 census. Then 20 years old, his occupation was bank clerk.
British Army Service records 1914-20, available through
1911 census RG14, piece no. 12295

When Bertram joined the 9th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment in 1916 the bank held his job open for him. In 1917 he was at Gheluvelt, near Ypres, and whilst trying to advance near a railway embankment he was hit by machine gun bullets. His nose was shot away, as was part of his face. He was assumed to be dead until a German soldier, pausing to examine the gold masonic ring he was wearing, realised that Bertram was alive. As a prisoner of war he was moved to Stettin near the Baltic Sea - on the way being bombed by the RAF whilst at Cologne Railway Station. He remained a prisoner of war until he was repatriated in 1918.
Treatment for his injuries then began, in Millbank and Wandsworths hospitals in London, and Everest in Teignmouth. For two years he was at Queens, Sidcup, a specialist facial surgery hospital, where he underwent 12 operations, with his face being rebuilt using procedures pioneered by Dr Harold Gillies. He was left with severe scarring, the Ministry of Pensions declaring that his wounds were equivalent to losing a limb.
Returning to his old job at the bank, Bertram was promoted to be manager of Ashburton in 1934.
He was a member of the Plymouth Hoe Masonic Lodge No. 4235, and was Master in 1930/31.
His story was featured in Faces of Conflict (2014) - an international study into the impact of World War 1 on art and facial reconstructive surgery.
Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire - accessed 20-09-2023

From Richard Blight: 'Bertram William Brown Blight served in WWI with the 9th Devons and was badly injured at Gheluvelt. He was taken prisoner of war and was exchanged as part of a Red Cross prisoner exchange in 1918, before the end of the war. The scheme  swapped prisoners who were so badly injured that they would not be able to fight again.

After a number of years in hospital he was given his old job back at the Capital and Counties Bank in his home town of Plymouth.

Before she was married, my grandmother was walking along Plymouth Hoe with a friend when her friend said, "Be careful, that is Bertram Blight coming towards us. I warn you he has been badly injured during the war."

My grandmother prepared herself for a shock, but she said, "Instead of a shock I saw his beautiful blue eyes, and fell in love with him." The net result of that meeting was 2 sons, 3 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren and I can't remember how many great great grandchildren so far'.

After marrying, they moved to Totnes where my father and uncle were born, before moving to Ashburton, where he was the bank manager. They lived in the rooms above the bank.*'

Many thanks to Richard Blight ,Bertram Blight's grandson, for the above information.

* The 1939 register shows the family, with Bertram as a bank manager, living at 2 East St., the address of the Capital and Counties Bank

See also
Above: In Stettin prisoner-of-war camp. Bertram is on the extreme left.
Right: On a Devon beach.
With many thanks to Richard Blight. Both pictures © the Blight family

Dr Harold Gillies developed groundbreaking plastic surgery techniques before and after WWI.

'His work marked the dawn of plastic surgery as we know it today'
National Army Museum accessed 21-09-2023 

Bertram William Blight is listed amongst 2500 soldiers treated at the Queen's Hospital, Sidcup, Kent

He underwent 12 operations to reconstruct his nose, later ones being under local anaesthetic because of the poor state of his health. Captain Russell was his surgeon.

'I adored walking with him in the street, because everybody you knew respected him...'
Gerald Blight, speaking about his father on  a BBC item

Bertram Blight died, aged 61, in 1952, his death being registered in the Newton Abbot district. He is buried at Ashburton.


                                    The Devon and Cornwall Bank

(Later the National Provincial Bank, and later still NatWest)


1843 The Ashburton branch of the Devon and Cornwall Bank was closed at Christmas 1842, forcing the people of Buckfastleigh and Ashburton to go to Newton for their banking transactions.
Western Times 13 May 1843 p3 col3
Right: 19 Est Street - in 1891it was the Devon and Cornwall Bank.
My own photograph 2014

In April 1891 new premises were opened for the Devon and Cornwall Bank. Built by Mr Henry Stevens from plans prepared by Mssrs Rowell and sons, the project had cost over £2500. Occupying 'an imposing position in East St'  the building was described as classical in design, with the lower storey constructed of axed Haytor granite, whilst the upper storey consisted on dressed granite and Ham Hill stone. The manager's private apartment was at the top of the building. 
Western Times 21 April 1891 p7 col 3

According to the Western Morning News, the bank was built on the site of a property where Dean Ireland had once lived.
Western Morning News 20 April 1891, p3 col3

In the 1891 census Charles J Jeffery bank manager of the Devon and Cornwall bank, East St


Left: A cheque drawn on the Devon and Cornwall Banking Company. James Woodley is paying H M Firth £1 in 1894.

For another example of a cheque from this bank, see the Virtual Museum 1890s section. 
From my own collection

Devon and Cornwall Banking Co Ltd., Manager Chas J Jeffery
Kelly's Directory for Devonshire 1902 p 32


The 1901 census shows Charles John Jeffery as manager of the Devon and Cornwall Bank in East St. Born in Devonport, he is aged 47 and has a wife, Kate.
1901 census RG13, Piece 2053, Folio 35, p2

From Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, Brent and Ivybridge Almanac 1906:

Devon and Cornwall Banking Co., East St, manager - Mr C J Jeffery

1928 saw the funeral of Mr Arthur Conroy, 56, manager of the Ashburton branch of the National Provincial bank 'since established 8 years ago'

Amongst the mourners were: B W Blight (Lloyds Bank), N? H Shellard (Midland Bank) H W Snow (National Provincial Bank)
Western Times 20 July 1928 p13 col1

From Kelly's Directory of Devonshire 1935:

Hy Stanley Joyce, manager National Provincial, Bank Ho East St

Henry Stanley Joyce (1882-1961) wrote several books about fishing and the countryside, including 'By Field and Stream', which he published at Ashburton in 1934.

In 1911 he was a bank clerk, boarding at Folkestone; by the time of his marriage* in 1917 he was a cashier at the Dulverton branch of the National and Provincial.
*To Elizabeth Ruby Sanders
1911 census RG14, piece no 4639 

North Devon Journal 15 November 1917 p4 col6

At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Henry and his wife were living in Barnstaple. Henry was a retired bank manager.
1939 register

From Mike McDonald: 'Uncle Harry loved the countryside, and became quite well known in England as an angler and writer on rural topics. He wrote about six books and many articles for publications such as Field and Stream, which he illustrated himself with watercolours and pen-and-ink drawings...He wanted to be a farmer, but his mother thought that wasn't good enough for him, so he was made to join a bank against his will. He became a manager of the National Provincial in Barnstaple, and apparently was quite good at it, but never enjoyed the work. He was good at swimming, and at one time instructed the Portsmouth police in lifesaving. My mother told me he saved someone's life by jumping off a pier in Poole harbour and rescuing them.

At one point in his life he shared living quarters with Capt R F Scott, and was supposed to accompany him on his ill-fated 1910 expedition to the South Pole as a naturalist but was unable to go because of lack of space. A relative has a letter from Capt Scott to Uncle Harry explaining that he did not have room for him on the expedition, but inviting him to come on the next one, which of course never came about.'

Many thanks to Mike McDonald, and to Brian Joyce for permission to reproduce Mike's piece from: - Accessed 17-12-2016


Above: The National Provincial Bank. Circa 1950s?
From my own collection

The Ashburton branch of NatWest closed in 2015


                                                                The Midland Bank

Above: The old Midland Bank building, on the corner of East St and St Lawrence Lane
My own photograph 2016

In 1928 Mr B O Russell was appointed manager of the Midland Bank in Andover. He had been manager at Ashburton since the bank opened over three years before.
Western Times 17 February 1928, p13, col1


                                                         The Devon and Exeter Savings Bank

1878 Miss Susan Beck is the agent for the Devon and Exeter Savings Bank in East Street. It is open from 12 until 2 on Tuesdays, and 2 until 5 on Saturdays.
White's History, Gazetteer and Directory of Devon, 1878-79, p108

Devon and Exeter Savings Bank, East Street. Miss S Skinner, agent.
Kelly's Directory for Devonshire 1902 p 32

C H Baker was the agent for the savings bank in 1923.Interest was at 2½ and 3% per annum
Western Times 27 April 1923 p10 col1

C H Baker, 8 West St, Savings Bank, Insurance Agency.
From the Guide to Ashburton - Ashburton Urban District Council, undated, but between 1930 and 1935:

Above and above right: A Devon and Exeter Savings Bank book from the mid 1960s.

Mrs B D Webb is the manager, and the address of the bank is 8 West Street.
From my own collection.