A little piece of history, uncovered at King’s Cross tube station last week.
Abbey National was founded in 1944, according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, after a merger of the National Building Society with the Abbey Road & St John’s Wood Permanent Benefit Building Society (itself established in 1874). From the typography and design, I’d guess this ad could well have been buried under five or six decades of paper and glue.
It’s rather saddening to think that as billboards are gradually replaced by flat screens and projectors, we will lose these little reminders of commercial history. Modern bankers might do well to be reminded of the days when financial institutions could pride themselves on their ideal of “safety first investment”.
By 2011, Abbey will have been rebranded as Santander: just another bland, nameless subsidiary of the Spanish banking giant. In two years’ time, there will be little left of Abbey National besides this picture.