The Bank of New South Wales had decided to open a branch on the Turon goldfield in 1853 but the idea was not followed up. It was 1856 before the bank finally opened in Bathurst in rented premises in George Street after signing an agreement with their landlord for £250 per annum for three years. By early September these first premises were "being fitted out ready for business". The bank board was fully aware of all the gold that was being found locally along the Turon and other gold fields so they were bound to take the opportunity to purchase as much gold as possible.

Not long after making the initial decision to open and having already signed an agreement the board instructed that land be found in George Street to build their own new building. Dr. W.G. Hall Palmer, the Police Magistrate, was among the foremost to open accounts on the first day of business in the temporary premises which had opened for "transactions of general Banking Business".

Within two months the new site was being excavated for their intended up-to-the-minute premises. Located on the corner of George and Russell Streets the two story building was 56 feet square and designed by well-known Sydney architect Edmund Blackett. It cost over £10,400 and was built by a Sydney contractor.  It featured some unique points such as a moat, basement strong room and other security features with the ever-growing bushranger problem in mind. There are a number of stories concerning the so-called moat however its real purpose was intended for lighting purposes not water. 

Mr. D. Murdoch was appointed manager on a salary of £350 plus a full-time servant allowance of £52.  Often it took some four days to get records and documents to Sydney and another four to get things back. The Bathurst branch was the fifth to open in country New South Wales. 

Mr. Murdoch was soon venturing out onto local goldfields, after arming himself with a percussion pistol, would ride out around the diggings on horseback buying gold directly from the miners.  Later the banks offered commissions to the local storekeepers to buy gold on their behalf. So pleased was the board that Mr. Murdock's salary was increased to £500.    

When the new bank building which was located beside Webb and Co. Emporium in George Street was finally finished it comprised the Banking Chamber, Manager's Room, Strong Room, living rooms and a kitchen with pantry.

The New South Wales bank later moved into William Street and their former premises was sold. It was renamed "Carillon Court". This was later demolished to make way for the current Western Advocate building.   

Alan McRae FAIHA © Copyright Bathurst District Historical Society

Bank of NSW