HISTORY OF 7 HIGH STREET, BOSTON – EX-HSBC BANK & ‘THE BOSTON BANK’
Raymond Singleton-McGuire is “banking” on a bright new future for a historic town building. Raymond Singleton-McGuire purchased this imposing Victorian building, steeped in banking history when the HSBC bank moved out in 2011. The building has a prominent position in Boston at the foot of the town bridge next to the White Hart Hotel. The building tells a tale of banking rivalry in the town, with dirty tricks employed to win custom. The building was bought in 1863 by Gee, Wise and Gee when it was a shop, run by grocer J. Nunneley. A year later, the new building was completed and the Gee Bank opened with a wine party and luncheon for customers.
Rival bankers, Garfit Claypon, also bought a shop, this time Clayton’s drapers shop next to the churchyard in the Market Place in Boston (now Lloyds Bank). This building was completed in 1864. Its name, simply ‘The Boston Bank’, is an indication of the intense rivalry that may have existed at that time. At the time of this opening, generous Garfit Claypon gave employees a £1,000 new year present in 1865. By today’s value this equates to just over £500,000!
The High Street bank was grandiose in terms of style. A solid, over-engineered structure commanding its ’anchor’ position it features head buttress statues of Mr Gee’s four daughters, projecting itself as a bank with family virtues.
In truth, ‘The Boston Bank’ was probably the larger bank, with more clients and larger deposits. This assumption is further supported by the fact that Garfit Claypon’s bank survived the depression of 1874, which brought down Gee and Co.
After 1870, England was plunged into a series of depressions that were deathblows to the private banks. In 1874, Thomas Gee and Co suspended payments with liabilities totalling £150,000 and assets of £91,000. The reason for the immediate bankruptcy was a local corn merchant who went into bankruptcy owing £76,000 (approximately £38,364,800 by today’s calculations!). Gee, Wise and Gee, after ten years of trading, went into liquidation and in 1873-74 and was taken over by the ‘Lincoln and Lindsey Banking Co’. Thomas Wise, the Manager of the old firm was appointed as its new Manager.
Inside the building today, much of the old banking layout remains untouched with the reception desk and tellers’ stations still in place. The door to the vault gives an indication of security and the building extends to five floors. In the cellar, automatic pumps still operate to deal with the ebb and flow of the nearby tidal river, which, on occasions, leads to rising water levels in the lower floor.