150 years of the Post Office Savings Bank

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Post Office Savings Bank (POSB), which opened for business on 16 September 1861. The Bank was set up to encourage ordinary people to save money safe in the knowledge that it was secured by the government. It also provided the government with a financial asset. The Bank did not just offer savings accounts. Over time it introduced a range of other services including government stocks and bonds in 1880, war savings in 1916 and premium savings bonds in 1956.

Romford Head Post Office - Savings Bank transaction, 1950 (POST 118/2058)

Romford Head Post Office - Savings Bank transaction, 1950 (POST 118/2058)

Over the years the POSB provided home safes to encourage people to save pennies at home before depositing the contents into their accounts.

Red Taylor Law Book Home Safe (OB1994.320)

Red Taylor Law Book Home Safe (OB1994.320)

It also produced a wealth of publicity material including leaflets, posters and even a number of GPO films, all encouraging the public to save with the Post Office. You can see a selection of POSB posters and poster artwork from our collection on Flickr.

Eureka. Artwork for a poster by Stan Krol, c. 1960 (POST 109/902).

Eureka! Artwork for a poster by Stan Krol, c. 1960 (POST 109/902).

In 1969, the Bank ceased to be part of the Post Office. Instead it became a separate government department and was known as National Savings. However, the Bank’s link with the postal service continued as post offices continued to act as outlets, handling deposits and withdrawals over the counter. On 1st July 1996 National Savings became an Executive Agency of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and from 2002 it became known as National Savings & Investments, later shortened to NS&I.

The BPMA’s Archive class POST 75 holds the records of the Post Office Savings Bank (POSB), including a copy of the Act of Parliament that established the Bank. The records range in date from 1828 until 1975 (the records dated after 1969 are ones the Bank did not take with it when it became a government department). They include acts and regulations, reports, publicity and publications, forms and notices. Further records are housed at The National Archives in Kew.

To celebrate the anniversary the BPMA has produced a new postcard pack including four POSB poster designs and two new greetings cards also featuring POSB posters. Find these on our Shop website.

One response to “150 years of the Post Office Savings Bank

  1. I bought a red PSOB home safe today from a junk stall in the market in Aberystwyth. I’d never seen them before. It’s a rather lovely thing to have, just as a piece of Post Office memorabilia.

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