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British Industrial History

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Cunliffes, Brooks and Co

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of Blackburn, later of Manchester, private bank. Also known as Cunliffe, Brooks and Co in its early days.

1792 Roger Cunliffe and William Brooks began a calico business in Blackburn. The Cunliffes were a prominent family from Great Harwood, who had been mercers since Elizabethan times. The Brooks family came from humbler beginnings; Roger Cunliffe commented that it was his partner’s honesty and shrewdness, rather than his wealth, that convinced him to go into business with his friend.

The partners began to offer banking services for the patrons of their calico business. This proved to be a sound move, and the banking arm of the business was soon ready to stand on its own.

1819 Samuel, the son of William Brooks, opened the firm’s first branch in Manchester.

1819 "NOtice is hereby given that the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned, Roger Cunliffe the elder, John Cunliffe, William Brooks, John Roby, and Roger Cunliffe the younger, as Bankers, at Blackburn, in the County of Lancaster, under the firm of Cunliffes, Brooks, and Co. was this day, in respect to the said John Roby, dissolved by mutual consent[1]

1822 Roger Cunliffe died

1823 Advertised on behalf of clients[2]

presumably then Cunliffe, Brooks and Co

1825 With other banks was involved in the formation of the original Manchester Ship Canal Co[3]

1825 There was a run on the Manchester branch of the bank. In an attempt to bolster customer confidence, Samuel Brooks opened several sacks of flour, the tops of which he filled with gold sovereigns. The sacks of ‘gold’ were then displayed in the branch, for all to see. The ploy worked: the customers' headlong rush to exchange their paper money subsided, and the bank survived.

1846 William Brooks died. The bank moved its head office to Manchester in response to the increased business that the Manchester branch was generating. Samuel Brooks became the leading partner in the business.

1847 Cunliffes, Brooks and Co, of London and Manchester[4]

1900 In line with the growing trend for small private banks to be taken over by their bigger competitors, Cunliffes, Brooks and Co. was acquired by Lloyds Bank. One of the managing partners, John Brooks, was retained by Lloyds as managing director of its Manchester region. He later became a director on the main board.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. London Gazette 20 April 1819
  2. The London Gazette 4 February 1823
  3. The Engineer, 1894/01/05
  4. The London Gazette:24 February 1847
  • Lloyds history [1]