Headquarters of Australia’s First Bank – The Bank of NSW

At one end of NSW stands the former Bank of NSW Head Office which was the headquarters of Australia’s first private bank between 1835 and 1970. It is still in use by the bank, albeit the bank having changed it’s name to Westpac.

The building still maintains many of it’s original design and fittings including the banking chamber and furniture. The lovely finishings of marble, scagliola and pressed metal can also be observed inside the still in use Westpac branch. Other areas of the building maintaining it’s original design are the executive floor, boardroom, stairways and safe deposit areas.

The building stands on what was originally part of Sydney’s military barracks and parade grounds until the 1840s. The barracks blocks stood behind this site between York and Clarence streets. There were also pubs, eating houses and brothels close by as well as barracks of wooden huts around Clarence Street to house the soldiers’ wives.

The Bank of New South Wales was founded in Sydney in 1817 to facilitate the growing trade of the young colony. After many years of steady growth and acquisitions or mergers with other institutions such as the West Australian Bank (1927), Australian Bank of Commerce (1931) and the Commercial Bank of Australia (1982) it changed it’s name to form Westpac Banking Corporation.

Westpac is one of Australia’s “Big 4” banks and is the second largest of this group by way of assets. It’s long history, particularly associated with the Bank of NSW has lead it to lay claims to be Australia’s first bank of which much of it’s early history can be associated with this building.

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