Yorkshire folk have always been canny with their brass, so it is no surprise we have started some of the greatest building societies in the country.
Building societies can be traced back to the industrial revolution, when they were set up as small local organisations whose members pooled funds to allow them to purchase land and build houses.
Some are no longer with us but this is a few of the financial institutions we have created; Skipton, Leeds Permanent, Halifax, Huddersfield & Bradford, West Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Leeds & Holbeck, Bradford Equitable, Bingley Permanent, Bradford & Bingley, Scarborough, National Provincial.
Skipton formed its own society originally called The Skipton and District Permanent Benefit Building Society in 1853. It was founded by George Kendall and the Craven Herald reported “This Society differs from the old building societies, in this, that it is not established for the express purpose of building a certain street or row of houses, but what is much superior, it enables a man to build what he likes, where he likes, and as he likes; or, if a member prefers to buy a house, he can do so, and the Society, if they think the purchase a good one, will advance the money.”
So what of the other Skipton Society?
Well in fact it has its headquarters a few miles down the road at Steeton. The Ecological Building Society had a vision to set up a building society that specialised in properties that conveyed an ecological benefit in terms of construction, use of land or lifestyle. The idea was sparked at a Green Party Conference, following the experience of a Yorkshire solicitor, David Pedley. He had great difficulty in finding anyone willing to give him a mortgage on a property needing extensive renovation.
Someone asked the question “Why don’t we start a building society?” In those days it was possible to start one with just £5,000. Ten people clubbed together, put in £500 each and the Society was registered in December 1980, commencing trading in March 1981 from a tiny upstairs office in Cross Hills, West Yorkshire.