Queensland's first bank was opened in 1850 by the Bank of New South Wales, and was situated in a rented building on the corner of Queen St and George St. The site was purchased by the bank in 1853, and it later built its own premises there. The following photograph from 1869 shows the bank's building, containing the bank offices as well as accommodation for staff.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #API-001-0001-0009)
This building was later demolished, and a new bank, designed by architects Hall & Devereux, was built on the same site between 1928 and 1930. This served as the Queensland head office of the Bank of NSW until 1970, when a new building was constructed further down Queen St opposite the GPO. The Bank of NSW is now known as Westpac Banking Corporation. The former head office still stands in what is now the Queen St Mall, and it still contains a branch of the bank. My recent photo (below) shows how it looks today.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)
These days there are generally a couple of ways that people think about banks. The first is that we take them for granted - they are part of our daily lives and perform (more or less) as they are expected to perform. The second reaction, one that actually involves some conscious thought, is that they are devil's spawn that bleed the population dry with a bevy of steep fees, like the outrageous $2 for each ATM transaction that occurs at a machine that doesn't belong to your own bank - that transaction would probably actually cost the bank about 2 cents. Ambivalence rules. I think that today's banks seem to have shifted their financial focus from their customers to their shareholders, with disastrous results for the former. No-one expects a bank to be completely altruistic, but neither do they expect a bank to rip them off at each opportunity. Free enterprise should be able to co-exist with compassion. Rant over.
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