Graphical version

London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/B/207/PC03

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1920-1941

Level of description: sub-fonds

Extent: 0.17 linear metres

Name of creator(s): P & O Banking Corporation Limited


Administrative/Biographical history:

The P & O Banking Corporation Limited was established in 1920 by James MacKay (later Lord Inchcape) to develop the private banking business of the P & O Company. Under MacKay's stewardship (as Managing Director from 1914 and Chairman from 1915) the P & O had expanded rapidly, acquiring the British India Company amongst many others, and the bank was to be both a commercial venture and a device to manage the financial interests of the business.

On its establishment the Corporation acquired Allahabad Bank in India and opened offices in Colombo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canton (now Guangzhou). Allahabad Bank was always operated as a subsidiary, and wasnít absorbed into the central organisation of the P & O Banking Corporation. The Corporation later expanded further in India under its own name, in Calicut (now Kozhikode in Kerala), Bombay and Madras (and the surrounding region). Lloyds and National Provincial bought shares in the new Corporation, reflecting the expectancy that a bank backed by the P & O would be a success.

In 1927 the Chartered Bank of India, China and Asia acquired seventy five percent of the Corporation's shares, effectively rendering the P & O Banking Corporation a subsidiary. In 1928 Chartered took over most of the remaining shareholding, and many of its Directors were elected to the Board of the Corporation in the subsequent years.

The P & O continued as a subsidiary company of the Chartered Bank for a further decade, though the Chartered Bank became dissatisfied with its performance. While the P & O had some merits as an institution (especially the business that came from the associated companies of the wider P & O group, and the success of Allahabad Bank in northern India), as a latecomer in international banking it often had to take on clients that existing institutions had refused. Furthermore many of the Corporationís branches existed in locations (such as Shanghai, Hong Kong and Bombay) that were served by other banks, including the Chartered Bank. With the down turn of the world economy in the 1930s the P & O was operating in a reduced market place as a direct competitor to the branches of its parent company for considerably reduced profit, an untenable position for the Corporation and its owner.

The Chartered Bank of India, China and Australia took the decision to liquidate The P & O Banking Corporation in 1938. The liquidation date was set for 31 January 1939, when the bank's branches closed and the liquid assets were transferred to the Chartered Bank (it appears that they were transferred to the nearest branch of the Chartered Bank in many cases).

The Corporation's headquarters in Leadenhall Street, London, remained open as a branch of Chartered, and appears to have handled the final breaking up of the bank's assets, and the longer term issues around the dissolution of the Corporation.

P & O Banking Corporation Nominees (the subsidiary that handled the shares owned by the Bank) continued in name until the late 1960s. Allahabad Bank continued to be run separately as a subsidiary of Chartered Bank, as the nature of its business kept it as a viable business in its own right. It was nationalised by the Indian Government in 1969, and still exists as a private body.

Geographical range:
India, Sri Lanka, China and Singapore


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of P & O Banking Corporation including the legal files of the bank (under the responsibility of the General Manager) and files on the liquidation of the Corporation.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Arranged by Department.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

48 hours notice required for access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright is held by the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in 1989.


DESCRIPTION NOTES Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Added January 2014

Overseas banks | Banks | Financial institutions | Finance

Personal names

Corporate names
P & O Banking Corporation Limited

Colombo | Sri Lanka | South Asia
Guangzhou | Guangdong | China | East Asia
Hong Kong | East Asia
Kerala | India | South Asia
Madras | India | South Asia
Mumbai | Salsette Island | Maharashtra | India | South Asia
Shanghai | Shanghai Shi | China | East Asia
Singapore | South East Asia