How ‘Leeds Permanent’ vanished – and a new ‘Leeds’ filled the void

30th March 2020

If the former Leeds Permanent Building Society had ‘done what it says on the tin’ like that wood-stain in the old TV ad, the mortgage lender would surely still have branches on Britain’s high streets. Savers might even be able to invest in its Liquid Gold account, the ‘nice little earner’ promoted in another old advert by the late George Cole, who played likeable rogue Arthur Daley in ‘Minder’.

On the basis that within financial services ‘permanent’ should mean what it says, maybe that Arthur Daley character was just the man to front a here-today-gone-tomorrow outfit? Well, ‘The Leeds’ wasn’t really like that, as building society history confirms. The first building society of all, founded in 1775 in Birmingham, was a ‘terminating’ society, as were the other 250-plus established by 1825.

When the Leeds Building and Investment Society opened in 1846, it too was a terminating society, one whose members pooled resources to provide their own homes and shut down once all were housed. At that time, only a few societies had begun accepting savings and financing homes for a wider membership with the intention of perpetual operation.

Perpetual notion

Seeing permanent status as the future, in 1848 the society converted into what later became Leeds Permanent. It was soon helping homebuyers throughout Yorkshire and during its first century grew its assets beyond £40m with its countrywide expansion. Later, the wave of privatising and demutualising that began in the 1980s saw ‘The Leeds’ merge with Halifax Building Society in 1995.

Halifax plc united with Bank of Scotland in 2001 as HBOS, which was absorbed by Lloyds Banking Group during the 2009 financial crisis. Meanwhile, in 2005, a small but old society, Leeds & Holbeck, opted to drop ‘& Holbeck’ and confusingly rebranded as Leeds Building Society. In this evolving market of banks, building societies and alternative lenders, as your mortgage adviser, we are always totally at home.

As a mortgage is secured against your home or property, it could be repossessed if you do not keep up mortgage repayments