Old, vintage, historical book archives at the Morwell Historical Society

Morwell on the March – Banks

A Journey in Time – A Resource for Local History

Morwell on the March – Banks

Commercial Bank of Australia Ltd

The Commercial Bank of Australia Limited opened their Morwell branch at 222 Commercial Road on Thursday March 30th. 1950. The premises had been previously owned by ” Cyclotron Stores”. The first manager was Mr. A. G. Colebrook.

Construction of the bank’s new premises on the north side of Commercial Road at number 20 began on 7th March 1956. The building, made from cream coloured bricks, had a frontage of 35 feet and was 40 feet in depth. The banking chamber and strongroom were located on the ground floor. The first floor space was utilized for staff amenities and storage requirements. The contractor was J. J. Marr & Son.

Commonwealth Bank

The Commonwealth Bank announced in August 1951 that they were purchasing property near the corner of Tarwin and George Streets with the intention of constructing a new banking facility.

The property, which measured 35 feet by 132 feet, was previously owned by the drapery firm: A. A. Green.
The Morwell branch opened in a temporary prefabricated building (construction materials were still in short supply at this time) on Monday, 29th October 1951.

Mr. L. J. Dooling , Chief State Officer of the Commonwealth Bank welcomed the guests to the official opening. Amongst those present were the Shire President Cr. D. J. White and local bank managers including Mr. W. Laycock representing the A.N.Z. bank.

The Commonwealth Bank assured the council that they would erect a permanent structure when circumstances permitted. The first manager was Mr. L. E. Hayne.

In 1955 the bank purchased the old post office site on the corner of Tarwin Street and Commercial Road for its future home. The excavation work was completed in January 1957, construction commenced in late February. The two storey building was constructed by the Melbourne firm E. A. Watts Pty Ltd . The project included 3 shops at ground level and professional office space on the first floor. The Commonwealth Bank outlaid approximately £60,000 on the project.

The bank opened for business on Monday, September 30th 1957. The new branch was not officially opened until 4pm on Tuesday, October 8th. Mr. L. J. Dooling again performed the honours. The manager was Mr. H. P. Pearson.

The three shops were occupied by: R. Faulkener (shoes), L.V. Jephcott & Sons Pty Ltd (Jewellers), G. Steinic (confectionery).

The office accommodation was taken up by:

  • Bruce, Littleton & Watt (Solicitors),
  • Brian Brennan (Solicitor),
  • D.A. Devlin (Insurance Agent),
  • A. Hanson (Real Estate Agent) and
  • Legal & General Assurance Society Limited.

Bank of New South Wales

The Morwell branch of the **Bank of New South Wales** opened at 224A Commercial Road on Monday, March 31st. 1952. The first manager was Mr. C. M. Giersch.

In October 1958, work commenced on clearing the site for the bank’s new premises. The site was on the eastern side of the “Advertiser” newspaper office. The existing branch building was situated on the western side.

Mr. Best Overend was the architect for the project. L. R. Parrick Pty Ltd of Morwell was engaged as the building contractor.

The building’s frontage measured 27 feet and was set back from the street a distance of 11′ 6″ to facilitate easy public access and to provide a covered entrance as protection against the elements.
The floor area was constructed of concrete with inbuilt heating and was covered with white marble effect vinyl tiles. Some of the floor tiles were of a russet and green colour to match the colour scheme of the main interior walls.

For sound proofing purposes, the sloping ceilings were covered with perforated metallic tiles. Large glazed sections were inserted in the ceiling to allow extra light into the banking chamber.
The bricks that came from Traralgon were a light silvery grey in colour. The highly polished internal fittings and partitions were fashioned from maple. Spun aluminium was used to construct the light fittings.

The new premises opened for business on 16th. April 1959. The manager was Mr. G. R. Davine . Morwell’s original manager, Mr. Giersch , transferred to Inglewood in 1955.

National Bank

The Colonial Bank (Morwell Nov. 1884) became the National Bank of Australasia in 1918. The National Bank continued to operate from the Colonial’s premises in Commercial Road. As the township prospered and development gained momentum, a second branch building was required to cope with the increase in the bank’s business.

The new building, which was built by Mr. Len Parrick , was located at 199 Princes’ Highway. It was officially opened on Friday August 29th. 1958. The branch opened for business on the following Monday. The bank ran advertisements in the local press advising the public of the date and time of the official opening formalities. The building was open for public inspection from 2pm and the ceremony began at 3.45pm. The bank’s Morwell manager Mr. A. N. Young presided over the official proceedings.

Chief Manager Mr. G. C. Hill accompanied by State Manager Mr. R. Roscoe were the National Bank’s representatives at the ceremony.

The official opening was performed by the Shire President Cr. A. L. Hare.

Morwell is well-known right throughout Victoria now as the up-and -coming town of the state…

Cr. Jim Balfour

The local member for Morwell Cr. Jim Balfour stated that “Morwell is well-known right throughout Victoria now as the up-and -coming town of the state and the way the banks are coming here and putting up such beautiful buildings I think is proof of that”.

The Shire of Morwell was represented by the following councillors: Alan Hall, Keith White, Lou Bond and Vin Hourigan.

Afternoon tea for the occasion was provided by the Church of England Ladies Guild.

A.N.Z. Bank

The A.N.Z. Bank , had by the 1950s, been established in Morwell for many years (circa 1903 when they amalgamated with the Bank of Australasia at 184 Commercial Road).

To handle an increase in the bank’s business, an agency was established at 207A Princes Highway on 5th December 1955. The building, which was of the “open-style”, featured windows made from large panes of plate glass. Below the window line, the building’s front was decorated with pastel blue terrazzo tiles. The exposed brickwork was of a salmon colour. The banking chamber’s interior fittings were fashioned from Queensland Maple.

The agency’s operating hours were: Monday to Friday 10am to Noon, then 1pm to 3pm. On Saturday mornings the bank opened from 9.30am to 10.30am. The agency’s activities were controlled from the main branch in Commercial Road.

In July 1958 the bank announced that their long-established Commercial Road premises would be demolished and the site re-developed.

Leslie M. Perrot and Partners, a Melbourne firm of architects, were engaged for the project. The new building, which incorporated all the latest trends in modern banking services, opened for business at 10 a.m. on Monday December 8th, 1958.

Alan Grieve Pty Ltd , a building firm from Morwell constructed the new premises. Mr. Jack Walsh from Morwell was responsible for the interior woodwork. The total cost of the new construction amounted to £26,784.

The building was designed with the new open-look concept in mind. The fashion at that time was to get away from the traditional style of bank building and to make financial premises more amenable to the general public. To this end, as an added touch, flowerbeds were situated along the street frontage and masses of flowers were placed in the customer hall.

Morwell Shire President, Cr. A. L. Hare officially opened the building at close of business for the day. Senior A.N.Z. officials present at the occasion were Mr. G. F. Loney , Chief Manager for Victoria and Tasmania and Mr. S. J. E. Barrie , District Manager for Gippsland.

The agency premises on the highway were retained. Mr. H. R. Glass was the branch manager. He had been at Morwell since July 1955.

English, Scottish & Australian Bank

The last major bank to establish a presence in Morwell was the E.S. & A. Bank. They opened their branch at number 13 Church Street on January 2nd. 1957.

The first manager was Mr. Colin W. Birrell. Before coming to Morwell Mr. Birrell was the Manager at the banks’ Moorabbin branch.

The building was very modern in design; its most striking feature was the placement of the strongroom at the front of the building. The ceiling rose to a height of twenty feet which gave the feeling of spaciousness to the relatively narrow building. The fronts of the counters were covered in gold anodised aluminium. Other materials used for fittings included highly polished natural coloured and stained silver ash.

The exterior was decorated with blue Italian mosaic tiles, giving the narrow fronted building a distinctive and pleasing look to the eye.

Bank Managers1

A.N.Z.H. R. Glass
W. Laycock
W. R. Mitchell
Bank of N.S.W.C. M. Giersch
G. R. Davine
Commercial BankGeoff Colebrook
J. House
Commonwealth BankEric Hayne
H. P. Pearson
E. S. & A. BankColin Birrell
National BankC. H. B. Clifton
D. C. Connell
A. H. Membury
Noel A. Young
State Savings BankT. J. Davis
Norman Dunn
A. L. Joyce
J. W. Lanigan
J. A. Rogers
L. R. Waugh
  1. List of Bank Managers is not complete ↩︎