Caernarfon’s first bank, Bank Quay

button_lang_welshCaernarfon’s first bank, Bank Quay

The first bank in Caernarfon, established here by Richard Roberts in 1792, was taken over by Williams & Company in November that year. The original bank building was replaced in 1833 with a new building, designed by local architect John Lloyd.

Williams & Company had branches at Holywell and Chester as well as Caernarfon, but by 1894 the bank was failing. It was taken over by Lloyd's Bank in 1897. The Caernarfon branch moved to new premises in Turf Square and the building in Bank Quay was sold to the county council for office use. Today the building is home to R&I Jones, a long-established wholesaler or confectionery and drinks.

The building is listed as a prominent, well preserved 19th-century commercial building retaining original character and contributing to the strong Georgian tradition of Caernarfon buildings.

Thomas Williams, of Williams & Company, was a lawyer and Member of Parliament with financial interests in the Anglesey copper mining industry. He established the bank with the Rev Edward Hughes as a sleeping partner (someone who provides funding but with no management role) in order to resolve currency problems. Money was in short supply – no coins had been produced in Wales after the Civil War and the government failed to provide enough small denomination coins.

As the copper, mineral and slate industries developed and the number of workers grew, there was increasing demand for coins to pay them. Some industrialists and traders devised their own form of currency and these token coins were widely used. This usually worked in a fair and equitable way, although some industrialists only allowed their use in their own shops – usually at inflated prices!

Such was Thomas Williams' reputation for honesty that he was nicknamed Twm Chwarae Teg (“Tom Fair Play”) and his coins were accepted all over North and Mid Wales and in England.

With thanks to Ann Lloyd Jones, of Caernarfon Civic Society

Postcode: LL55 1SU    View Location Map