End of the bank holiday?

01 May 2015

The 144-year-old tradition of bank closures on public holidays is coming to an end with Britain’s biggest lenders due to open almost 100 branches on Monday 4 May.

The Telegraph has reported that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) which runs NatWest, said it will open its doors to customers for the first time on a bank holiday next week. RBS plans to open 34 of its busiest branches, while Barclays is due to have as many as 50 high-street locations open on 4 May.

The banks say that with the increasing demands of the modern age, many people struggle to make it to branches on weekdays or during limited weekend opening hours.

RBS is anticipating a flood of customers who are unable to spare the time to have discussions with bank staff during a weekday, and said it will have extra mortgage advisers on hand, meaning that hundreds of people could choose to take out a mortgage on the bank holiday.

The move marks a significant departure from the 19th century origins of the bank holiday, set aside for rest and worship on Christian festivals. Such holidays have long been a tradition in the banking world, with the Bank of England historically giving its employees time off on saints’ days.

With banks closed, many businesses decided to follow suit, and the Bank Holidays Act was introduced in 1871 to enshrine public holidays in UK law.