131 Finsbury Pavement (No.1) Ltd

131 Finsbury Pavement (No.1) Ltd was incorporated on June 29 1921 as Arbuthnot Latham & Co. On January 1 1983, the company was renamed the Arbuthnot Latham Bank Ltd and, on June 28 1991, became 131 Finsbury Pavement (No.1) Ltd

Company history

Arbuthnot Latham Bank logo

Arbuthnot Latham
Bank logo

The company was established to take over the business of the well-known London merchant banking house of Arbuthnot Latham & Company, which had been established in 1833. In 1955, one of the original directors, Reginald Abel Smith, recalled the company's early days:

"my thoughts, perhaps inevitably, go back to the day, 34 years ago on June 29th 1921, when the partnership of 88 years, which commenced in 1833, terminated, and the firm became a Private Limited Company with its first Directors, Charles Arbuthnot, Herbert Arbuthnot, William Reierson Arbuthnot, Robert Arbuthnot, and Reginald Abel Smith. The last name sounded strange, and I should say rather out of place, amongst the others in those days, for apart from a very few years with a Latham, Arbuthnots had always composed the partnership."

"The reasons for a Private Limited Company were two-fold - the tragedy brought about by the first World War, and secondly my own insistent obstinacy. Two Arbuthnots, whose careers had been expected to be dedicated to the interests of the firm, both lost their lives, and the time arose when it became necessary to look about for one other younger man.

But for the 1914-18 War, there might well have been no other name but Arbuthnot (or those of their direct descendants) in the direction of the firm's activities to this day. My great personal friendship at Eton and Cambridge with Robert Arbuthnot is the reason for my being here today."

"...And so (W.R.) Reierson Arbuthnot, with the advice and active cooperation of Herbert, was the chief Sponsor in forming Arbuthnot, Latham & Company Limited, the first Merchant Banking House in the City of London to take the plunge of continuing its existence as a Private Limited Company rather than as a Partnership."

By the start of the Second World War, the company had built up a considerable acceptance business with connections in southern India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), particularly in tea. In 1943, the company took on the business of fellow merchant bank, Gilliats, which was known in the market chiefly for its interest in the import of coffee from Costa Rica.

In 1988, the company was purchased by the NZI Trust and Investment Corporation Ltd, which was acquired by the General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation Ltd the following year. On April 26 1991, it was reported to the board that the company had surrendered its banking licence with effect from March 20 1991.

131 Finsbury Pavement was placed into members voluntary liquidation on 29 April 2009, as part of the group legal entity rationalisation project.

Key dates

Year Event
1921 The company is established
1983 Name changes to the Arbuthnot Latham Bank
1988 The company is purchased by the NZI Trust and Investment Corporation
1989 NZI Trust is acquired by the General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation
1991 The company surrenders its banking license
1991 Name changes to 131 Finsbury Pavement (No.1) Ltd

Did you know...?

  • In October 1929, the board decided to employ a blinded ex-serviceman to operate the telephone switchboard in the company's new offices.
  • In May 1935, in celebration of the King's Silver Jubilee, the board granted the entire staff an extra week's holiday.
  • In March 1941, company director J N McNeile was captured and held as a prisoner of war in Germany. He rejoined the board on May 17 1945.
  • In 1941, the company's offices were severely damaged by enemy bombs which fell in the lift shaft on the nights of April 16 and 17. Ten days later, the offices were completely gutted by fire and everything destroyed, apart from the contents of the safe in the manager's room, the strong room upstairs and the two strong rooms downstairs. Amongst the casualties was the company seal. The company was offered temporary accommodation by Norton, Rose, Greenwell & Company at 116 Old Broad Street.

Subsidiaries and constituents*

Year Company name
1833 - 1921 Arbuthnot Latham & Company
1898 - 1921 A. L. Wharf Company Ltd.
1922 Mortgage Company of Jamaica Ltd.
1922 Engineering and Electric Construction Syndicate
1786 - 1943 John K Gilliat & Company Ltd.
1974 Arbat (UK) Ltd.
1971 - 1976 Chancery Trust Ltd.
1920 - by 1987 City and Overseas Leasing Ltd.
1981 - 1987 DSB Finance International Ltd.
1988 Arbuthnot Suisse Ltd.
1988 Arbuthnot Fleet Services Ltd.

* Please note the first date given is the date of the establishment of the company and the second date is the date the company was acquired or became a subsidiary. Where only one date is given the company was established as a subsidiary of the parent company. Where one date is preceded by a hyphen the date of the establishment of the company is not known.

Head office premises


Year Address
1921 - 1929 33 Great St Helens (additional rooms taken at number 34 in 1922)
1929 - 1944 9 St. Helen's Place
1941 - 1944 116 Old Broad Street (temporary premises due to bomb damage)
1944 - 1963 10, Old Jewry
1963 - 1982 36/37 Queen Street
1982 - 1983 20-24 Moorgate
1983 - 1991
at least
131 Finsbury Pavement
by 1994 Becket House, 87 Cheapside

Staff and officials


Year Name
1921 - 1937 William Sinclair
1937 - 1962 Samuel Ranulph Allsopp
1962 - 1973 D V A Craddock
1973 - 1981
at least
Jeremy R Kaye
by 1994 P M White


Year Name
1921 - 1937 William Sinclair
1937 - 1969 Samuel Ranulph Allsopp (general manager; managing director from 1962)
Position not listed after 1969

Directors (1921)

  • Charles George Arbuthnot (Chairman)
  • Hugh Lytterton Arbuthnot
  • Herbert Robinson Arbuthnot
  • William Reierson Arbuthnot
  • Reginald Abel Smith

Overseas branches and agencies

  • Hamburg, Germany (by 1924)
  • Uganda (1925)
  • Antwerp, Belgium (1927)

In the archives

The Aviva archive contains records relating to the running of 131 Finsbury Pavement between 1921 and 2005. The collection includes minute books, shareholders' records, memoranda and articles of association and annual reports and accounts.

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