I am always intrigued to read about the amazing things in corporate archives, and a while back I received another excellent newsletter from Barclays Group Archives. To my delight, one of the items dealt with the BBC’s Gentleman Jack, a fascinating show that fictionalized the Life & Loves of Anne Lister . It turns out, the archivists helped the production company recreate the historic setting of nineteenth century banking:
Readers may have been enthralled, as we were, by the recent BBC TV drama Gentleman Jack, based on the life and diaries of Anne Lister (1791-1840) of Shibden Hall, Halifax.
Early in 2018, we were contacted by a TV production company with a request for props and background information giving a picture of early 19th century country banking, especially in West Yorkshire. This led to a full day’s visit by the team’s graphic designer to see what we have.
Evidence for what a country bank would have looked like at that period is surprisingly scarce, but a humorous drawing by Jonathan Backhouse dated 1829 (below), of his manager’s office in a comparable banking house at Durham shows the simple furniture and likely layout. Items such as ledgers, coin scales, bank notes, cheques, fire buckets, and a clerk’s high desk were all useful as models for the props.
The ‘scheming banker’ of the TV series, Christopher Rawson, who becomes Anne’s arch-enemy, is not based directly (we hope) on one of our predecessors in Halifax.
Our main predecessor bank in the town was the Halifax Commercial Banking Co. which evolved from various partnerships, including Rawsons, Rhodes & Briggs. The banknotes used in the TV series borrowed designs from notes featuring a sheep issued by this bank, and a beehive from the Kendal Bank.”