Wisbech and Lincolnshire Bank

The Wisbech and Lincolnshire Bank was Wisbech's first official bank and thrived under the Peckover family's management throughout the early to mid-19th century.

The family's wealth was derived from banking.

In 1777 Jonathan Peckover moved to Wisbech and established a small grocers business.

Respected for his probity, he soon begen holding his customers' money for safe keeping. This was not unusual, as most transactions were made in cash and the need for safe repositories apparent. What was informally know as 'Peckover's Bank' had seven accounts in its ledger in 1782, when Jonathan entered into partnership with the well-established Quaker bankers, Gurneys & Co. of Norwich, and John Birbeck and Joseph Taylor of King's Lynn.

Jonathan Peckover recognised that his handsome house on the North Brink in the foremost part of town provided him with the necessary outward signs of stability upon which to build his career in banking. The business was accomodated in a purpose-built banking hall/chamber to the south-west of the house from c.1800. It traded on this site until 1879, when the bank moved to spacious new premises, which are still in use today as Barclays Bank, in the Old Market.

When the Wisbech and Lincolnshire Bank first opened its doors, customers entering the Banking Hall would have found themselves in a large airy room. Ranged in front of them were the clerks, equipped with scales to check the weight of coins to be deposited. A gold coin was literally worth its weight. Behind the scenes the ledgers recording the bank's financial transactions were stored on wooden shelving supported on iron brackets (still in place today).

Banknotes first appeard in this country in the 16th century. The Wisbech and Lincolnshire was one of many country banks, in addition to the Bank of England, to issue their own bank notes. They enabled customers to undertake financial transactions without the need to carry around valuable and heavy coins. The last private bank notes in England and Wales were issued by the Somerset bank of Fox, Fowler & Co. in 1921.

Though the Banking Hall was partially demolished in 1879, sufficient remains above ground to appreciate its former scale and layout. Below ground, the brick vaults that once held gold and silver coinage and the massive doors of the vaults survive little changed and you can find out more in our Banking Wing exhibition.