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Norwich war memorial to bank staff who served in First World War could be moved for first time in almost a century

The war memorial which would move from the NatWest in London Street to the new one in Gentleman's Walk. Pic: NatWest.

The war memorial which would move from the NatWest in London Street to the new one in Gentleman's Walk. Pic: NatWest.

NatWest

A memorial to hundreds of bank staff who served in the First World War could be on the move for the first time in almost a century.

NatWest's new branch in Gentleman's Walk, where the memorial would be relocated to. Pic: Sonya Duncan
. NatWest's new branch in Gentleman's Walk, where the memorial would be relocated to. Pic: Sonya Duncan .

The memorial plaque currently hangs in the former NatWest building in London Street, but bank bosses want to move it into the new branch which recently opened in Gentleman’s Walk.

National Provincial and Union Bank of England - a past constituent of NatWest, originally opened a branch in London Street in 1866, but moved into what was until recently the bank’s flagship city branch in 1919.

During the First World War the bank lost hundreds of staff and put two types of bronze war memorial plaque in its branches commemorating the staff who had served and died.

Both types had the same wording, but the larger ones carried an enamel city crest. With London Street a new and flagship office, that plaque is one of the larger versions, carrying the coat of arms of the city of Norwich.

The Nat West Bank building in London Street, which the bank has vacated for their new building in Gentlemans Walk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY The Nat West Bank building in London Street, which the bank has vacated for their new building in Gentlemans Walk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

It reads: “A tribute to the 2,681 members of the staff of this Bank who served in the Great War 1915-1918 and in honoured memory of the 415 who gave their lives for their country.”

The plaque does not make any specific reference to the branch itself or any individual who worked there.

But, because the London Street building is Grade II listed, NatWest needs to secure special permission from Norwich City Council to move the plaque.

Bosses at the Royal Bank of Scotland, of which NatWest is a part, say they look after more than 350 war memorials in its branches and offices in the UK.

Documents lodged with the city council to make the case for the move state that: “Partly as a result of the larget number of memorials in their care, RBS have established a clear process for managing its war memorials sensitively and in a best practice way.”

If permission is agreed, then the Royal British Legion will be invited to an unveiling ceremony when the plaque is moved to its new home.

Douglas Osbourn Da Silva, branch manager at NatWest, said: “Our war memorial is an important part of our history and heritage, and placing it in our branch in Gentleman’s Walk reaffirms our desire to remember those who have served our country over the years.”

While the war memorial makes no specific reference to staff who died in the First World War, Norwich workers who perished include:

Douglas Dodds: Started work at the Norwich branch as a 16-year-old in April 1913 and was described as “painstaking and industrious” by his manager. Killed in action in France on May 3 1917, aged 20, while serving as a private with the Honourable Artillery Company.

Robert Muirhead: Norwich-born Robert started work as an apprentice at the Norwich branch in March 1911. Killed in action on the Somme in October 1916 aged 21, while a lance corporal with the 26th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers.

Percy Peebles: The former City of Norwich School pupil became an apprentice at the Norwich branch in September 1916, aged 16. He joined the London regiment in 1915 and became a second lieutenant. He was killed in action in France in April 1917, aged 20.

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