Bristol & West

Bristol & West (B&W) was a former mutual building society in the United Kingdom (UK), one of the first to be demutualised to become a publicly traded bank in 1997.[2][3] Bristol & West had its headquarters in Bristol, England, UK. B&W became a division of the UK arm of the Bank of Ireland in 1997.

Bristol & West plc[1]
Bristol & West
FormerlyBristol, West of England and South Wales Permanent Building Society
mutual building society until July 1997,[2]
public limited bank,[3]
banking division of Bank of Ireland
IndustryFinance and investments
Founded1850; 173 years ago (1850) in Bristol, England
Defunct2009; 14 years ago (2009)
FateSold and divested
HeadquartersOne Temple Back East, Temple Quay, Bristol, England, BS1 6DX, United Kingdom
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
John Burke (CEO)
David McGowan (director)
ProductsMortgages, savings
ServicesFinancial services
  • Decrease £2.6m (2010)[4]
  • £81.8m (2009)[4]
Total assets£129.7m (2010)[4]
Total equity£82.2m (2010)[4]
OwnerBank of Ireland
ParentBank of Ireland UK Holdings plc[4]

B&W's main activity was mortgage lending for residential and commercial customers, although in 2009, its business was transferred to Bank of Ireland and it became a shell company, and stopped accepting new customers.[4]

The Bristol & West brand name has since been replaced by the Bank of Ireland brand. However, as of 2021, Bristol & West plc shares are still being publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) under the BWSA ticker, and globally identified under its International Securities Identification Number (ISIN) GB0000510205.[1]


Bristol & West former headquarters being converted into a hotel in 2006

The Bristol & West building society, registered number 2124201, was founded in 1850; 173 years ago (1850), originally as the 'Bristol, West of England and South Wales Permanent Building Society'. It offered mortgages in the Bristol and the south west of England area, and became a well known financial services institution in the region.[citation needed]

By 1996, Bristol & West was the ninth largest building society in the United Kingdom,[5] at a time when the UK Government relaxed rules on funding for building societies, which led a number of building societies to demutualise and convert into banks.[citation needed]

In July 1997, Bristol & West demutualised, its shares began being publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE)/[3] It was also sold to the Bank of Ireland for £600m (882m), becoming a UK division of the Bank of Ireland, but maintaining its operations and branch network under the existing Bristol & West brand identity.[5][6]

In December 2003, the UK's Financial Services Authority (FSA) fined the Bank of Ireland owned Bristol & West subsidiary 'Chase de Vere Financial Solutions' for the "approval and issue of a misleading direct offer promotion".[7]

In 2005, eight years after its purchase, the Bank of Ireland sold its Bristol & West plc savings and investment business to the Britannia Building Society. The deal also included Bristol & West's 97 branches, as well as its direct savings business, for £150 million.[2][6][8] The sale does not include the Bristol & West brand name, as this was retained by the Bank of Ireland.[8] Existing Bristol & West account holders will be transferred to a Britannia branded product,[2] and all branches will also assume the Britannia brand identity.[8]

The Bank of Ireland continued to offer B&W mortgages to intermediaries,[8] packagers, and direct customers; through the Bristol & West brand at its main processing centres in Bristol and Solihull; this meant the closure of a number of smaller mortgage processing centres throughout the country. In 2007, the estimated profit from this mortgage venture was £52 million.[citation needed]

Following the financial crisis of 2007–08, the Bristol & West bank was suffering large losses, and as a result, the Bank of Ireland took the decision to limit mortgage lending.[citation needed]

On 8 January 2009, the Bank of Ireland announced to the stock market that it would close its Solihull and Reading processing centres (the Reading Centre processed Bank of Ireland mortgages only), and as of 9 January 2009, Bristol & West mortgages would cease accepting new customers.[6] Bank of Ireland now only offer residential mortgages in the UK through the Post Office Money brand[6] and through their own brand in Northern Ireland.


Coat of arms of Bristol and West Building Society
Granted 25 February 1939[9]
On a wreath of the colours in front of two arms embowed in saltire the hand to the dexter holding a round shield and that to the sinister three sprigs of thrift a rock all Proper.
Per chevron Sable and Gules in chief a balance Or and in base a castle triple towered Argent.
Security through thrift


  1. ^ a b c d "Bristol & West plc BWSA stock". London Stock Exchange (LSE). Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Osborne, Hilary (24 May 2005). "Britannia to acquire Bristol & West". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 26 July 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  3. ^ a b c "Bristol & West plc BWSA our story". London Stock Exchange (LSE). Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Bristol & West plc – Interim Management Report for the six month period to 30 September 2010" (PDF). Bristol & West plc. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Bristol & West goes to Bank of Ireland for £600m". The Independent. 15 April 1996. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d Brignall, Miles (10 January 2009). "After 158 years, the end is nigh for Bristol & West". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  7. ^ "FSA final notice". Financial Services Authority (FSA). 17 December 2003.
  8. ^ a b c d Treanor, Jill (25 May 2005). "Bristol & West to be a building society again". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  9. ^ "Bristol and West Building Society". Heraldry of the World. Retrieved 27 March 2021.

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