Permanent?

This picture on the front of today’s Law Society Gazette is rather poignant:

From the HBOS website (note: I’m guessing that could become a dead link sooner rather than later):

In December 1852 a small group of men gathered in the Old Cock Inn, Halifax.  Their mission was to set up an investment and loan society, for the mutual benefit of local working people.  Those with spare cash could invest it; others could then borrow, using the funds to buy or build a house.  Lenders would get interest on their savings, borrowers would pay it.

By Christmas that year the Halifax Permanent Benefit Building Society was formally established.  Rules were drawn up, and a chairman, trustees and directors appointed.  Office space was rented in the Old Market, and an advertisement placed in the Halifax Guardian.

Amongst the founding fathers were John Fisher, a local bank manager; J.D.Taylor, a solicitor’s clerk; and Esau Hanson, a textile manufacturer.  All three played a pivotal role in the Society’s early history.  Fisher was elected first President and Taylor named Secretary, serving in that capacity for nearly 50 years.  Then, on 26th May 1853, Hanson became the first person ever granted a mortgage by the Halifax.  He borrowed £121 to buy land on St. John’s Lane, a site which later formed part of the Halifax’s head office on Trinity Road.

What would those Victorian northern worthies, Fisher, Taylor and Hanson – my mental picture is of bewhiskered pillars of the Non-Conformist Chapel – make of the greed, irresponsibility and profligacy that turned their “permanent benefit building society” for local workers first into the anonymous ugliness of “HBOS”, and then into an imploding wreck that could have brought down the entire banking system?

Well, if I’m right about their being “chapel folk”, their answer is fairly easy to guess:

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

Isaiah 40:8, AV

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