When Lloyds Bank closes its doors for the last time on Tuesday, Helston - one of the oldest towns in Cornwall - will be without a bank for the first time in 235 years.

Retired bank manager at the branch for almost a decade, Derek Cheesbrough, looks back at Helston's rich history of banking:  

I was privileged to have been the manager from 1982 until my retirement in 1991.

It is important that this long era of banking service to the local community is recorded for posterity and with the help of the banks’ archives department I have attempted to do so.

READ MORE: Advice as last bank in Helston prepares to close this month

Commercial banking was first established in Cornwall when The Miners Bank and The Cornish Bank opened branches in Truro in 1771.

The first recorded bank in Helston was a private bank, ‘Christopher Wallis’, in 1784, followed by the Helston Union Bank in 1788, which opened for 90 years until it failed in 1879.

At this time the banking services were taken over by The Cornish Bank, which opened at branch in Church Street.

Circa 1890, The Cornish Bank required larger premises and moved to Market Place, opposite the Town Hall. Here they purchased two adjoining properties, formerly occupied by Mr Oliver, a butcher, and Mr Jenkin, a cobbler.

Both properties were demolished and replaced by the splendid Cornish cut granite building which dominates the crossroads at the top of the town today – unchanged 132 years later.

In 1902 The Cornish Bank was absorbed by The Capital and Counties Bank, which in turn was taken over by Lloyds Bank in 1918. Lloyds already had a sub branch of their Redruth branch in Helston, at 29 Meneage Street, opened in 1914.

In 1919 both branches were merged in the larger Market Place premises and the Meneage Street building was sold to the National Provincial Bank.

In 1982, shortly after my appointment, I obtained the bank’s agreement for the first cashpoint machine in the UK off bank premises, at the RNAS Culdrose sub branch in August 1982.

Long-established sub branches had also existed for the convenience of customers in outlying areas at: Porthleven, opened by The Cornish Bank circa 1900, closed April 13, 2000.

Mullion, opened by The Capital and Counties Bank in 1914, closed April 14, 2000.

Culdrose, opened August 1973, closed December 1992.

At the time of my retirement in 1991 Lloyds Bank, Helston had 32 staff. Today, on the eve of closure, there are only three in this large building to care the dwindling numbers of customers, due to the trend to ‘online’ banking.

Personal customer/banker relationships, so mutually helpful and appreciated, will be no more – a loss to ‘progress’.

The closure of all bank branches in Cornwall seems likely to follow in due course.