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History goes full circle after Norwich Credit Union moves into former co-operative lending society's offices

PUBLISHED: 19:00 08 June 2018 | UPDATED: 08:15 09 June 2018

Mary Chacksfield, left, and Bernie Sheehan from Norwich Credit Union with copies of old Norwich Mutal Loan Fund Society documents, which used to be based in their building.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mary Chacksfield, left, and Bernie Sheehan from Norwich Credit Union with copies of old Norwich Mutal Loan Fund Society documents, which used to be based in their building. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

History has repeated itself after a social enterprise which offers affordable loans has moved into the former offices of an historic loans society.

A line drawing of the Norwich Mutual Loan Fund Society offices, 35-37 Exchange Street, in 1911 Picture: NORFOLK RECORD OFFICE/nroacc2003/131A line drawing of the Norwich Mutual Loan Fund Society offices, 35-37 Exchange Street, in 1911 Picture: NORFOLK RECORD OFFICE/nroacc2003/131

The volunteer-led Norwich Credit Union, which also offers its 900 members access to safe savings, relocated from the Norwich Age UK shop on London Street to 35-37 Exchange Street.

Norwich Credit Union, Exchange Street, Norwich.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYNorwich Credit Union, Exchange Street, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

But as well as offering more space, research by credit union volunteer Mary Chacksfield at the Norfolk Record Office revealed the Exchange Street office housed the Norwich Mutual Loan Fund Society from 1907–1979.

Extract from first Norwich Mutual Loan Fund Society AGM report, 1885-6 Picture: NORFOLK RECORD OFFICE/nroacc2003/131Extract from first Norwich Mutual Loan Fund Society AGM report, 1885-6 Picture: NORFOLK RECORD OFFICE/nroacc2003/131

Ms Chacksfield, from Grove Walk in Norwich, who has been a credit union volunteer for four years, said: “I was delighted when I heard the union had its new premises. It had been looking for a new base for a long time.

The Norwich Credit Union Saturday service point at its former Age UK shop base in London Street, Norwich Picture: Bernie Sheehan/Norwich Credit UnionThe Norwich Credit Union Saturday service point at its former Age UK shop base in London Street, Norwich Picture: Bernie Sheehan/Norwich Credit Union

“I was inspired to find out about the history of the Exchange Street office. It was fascinating because it has gone full circle. I think it is so exciting.

“I do enjoy research and like architecture and old buildings - everybody likes a story.”

Documents discovered include:

■The first AGM report of the Norwich Mutual Loan Fund Society from 1885-86;

■Society figures from January 26, 1886 showing the payments from each member, profits, losses, receipts and expenditures in pounds, shilling and pence;

■A handbill advertising the society’s AGM from 1892;

■A letter from 1979 thanking the secretary for the society’s “never-failing support of [people] in their hour of need”.

■Three proof of registered addresses for the society, including the Exchange Street base dated April 22, 1907;

■A line drawing from 1911 for the society’s 27th annual report.

Norwich Credit Union president Jon Warnes said: “We’re delighted to be continuing the tradition of a member-owned, co-operatively run financial organisation at this address. We’ve come home to Exchange Street in more than one sense - we set up the credit union in 1989 at number 38 Exchange Street.

“Our founding ethos, like the Mutual Loan Fund Society, is to offer a fair rate of borrowing.”

Norwich Credit Union was founded in 1989 and has lent more than £1.5 million to members. Membership costs £1.

The Exchange Street office is in the same building as the YMCA.

Visit www.norwichcreditunion.org.uk



Norwich Mutual Loan Fund Society history

The Norwich Mutual Loan Fund Society was established in 1885.

Its main objective was “the formation of a common fund from which to supply loans to its members”.

At the society’s first AGM it was reported that there were 169 members and that £1,070 had been advanced to members.

By 1914 membership had increased to 4,000 and £12,130 had been advanced in loans.

The society’s first meetings were held in a room in Prince’s Street, Norwich.

Its registered address moved from Bridewell Alley in April 1890, to 17 Pottergate in May 1895.

The Norwich Mutual Fund Society finally moved into “commodious offices” in Exchange Street Buildings – number 35-37 today – on April 22, 1907.

Norwich Credit Union was formed in 1989.

In 2016-17 membership went up by a fifth and borrowing also increased 20pc, from £251,000 to £308,000 in 2016-17.

Call 01603 764904 for advice.

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