Bank of New South Wales

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Former Bank of New South Wales, Broadway, Sydney, designed by Varney Parkes

The Bank of New South Wales (BNSW) was the first bank in Australia, being established in Sydney in 1817 and situated on Broadway. During the 19th and early 20th century, the Bank opened branches first throughout Australia and Oceania. It merged with many other financial institutions, finally merging with the Commercial Bank of Australia in 1982 to form the Westpac Banking Corporation.


Established in Sydney in 1817, the Bank of New South Wales (BNSW) was the first bank in Australia, with Edward Smith Hall as its first cashier and secretary.[1] During the 19th and early 20th century, the Bank opened branches first throughout Australia and Oceania. This included at Moreton Bay (Brisbane) in 1850, then in Victoria (1851), New Zealand (1861), South Australia (1877), Western Australia (1883), Fiji (1901), Papua New Guinea (1910) and Tasmania (1910).

  • 1927: BNSW acquired the Western Australian Bank, which had been established in 1841 or 1842.
  • 1931: BNSW acquired the Australian Bank of Commerce, which had branches in both New South Wales and Queensland.[2]
  • 1942: BNSW suspended operations in Papua New Guinea as the Japanese Army captured many of the towns in which it had branches and agencies, and bombed Port Moresby. It resumed operations in 1946.
  • 1957: BNSW buys 40% of finance company Australian Guarantee Corporation and over the years progressively increased its interest to a majority stake of 76% and then acquired all remaining shares in 1988.
  • 1968: BNSW joins Databank Systems Limited consortium in New Zealand to provide joint data processing services. Around this time the bank started going 'on line' with the use of their computer nicknamed 'Fabicus' the letters standing for First Australian Banking Institution Computer Used in Sydney. Fabicus had been in use since 1958 in the processing of some records. With advanced programming, The use of this computer changed the whole concept of banking as it had been done in years previously with its combination of hand-written and machined records. Branches slowly became attached to the data processing centre and other banks slowly joined the ranks of computer generated reports, records and expansion.
  • 1970: BNSW established a branch on Tarawa in Kiribati (ex-Gilbert Islands), which also took over the government savings bank. Also, the company first became listed on 18 July 1970.
  • 1971: It established a branch in the New Hebrides.
  • 1973: BNSW became the corporate sponsor of the Rescue Helicopter service started by Surf Life Saving Australia. The service is known today as the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service
  • 1974: it participated in a joint venture to establish the established Bank of Tonga.
  • 1975: BNSW incorporated its local business in Papua New Guinea as Bank of New South Wales(PNG).
  • 1977: BNSW formed Pacific Commercial Bank in Samoa as a joint venture with Bank of Hawaii, buying into Pacific Savings and Loan Company (est. 1969), in which Bank of Hawaii had had an ownership interest since 1971.
  • 1982: BNSW merged with the Commercial Bank of Australia to form Westpac Banking Corporation ending the use of the Bank of New South Wales name. The new Westpac brand-name incorporated the "W" which had been the logo of the Bank of New South Wales (popularly known as "the Wales").

See also[edit]


  1. ^ M. J. B. Kenny. "Biography - Edward Smith Hall - Australian Dictionary of Biography". Retrieved 2012-12-25. 
  2. ^ Australian eHeritage Portal: Australian Bank Of Commerce (former)

External links[edit]