The company will hold the official ribbon cutting at the relocated Darlington branch on November 2nd, marking a major investment in the town center.
A Chancellor of the Exchequer is joined as guest of honor by Robin Blair, who has worked at his family’s fruit and vegetable stall in Darlington’s covered market for more than 70 years.
In August it was announced that the 167-year-old company would be moving its Darlington branch from Tubwell Row to a larger, more prominent building on High Row. The vacant building on the corner of Post House Wynd has a proud history: it was opened in 1897 by the North Eastern Banking Company and later became Martins Bank.
The new branch will open to members on the morning of Monday, October 30th, before the official opening ceremony at noon on November 2nd.
The opening of the branch is a further vote of confidence in the city center following Rishi Sunak’s decision to make Darlington the home of the Treasury’s new northern headquarters, creating 1,400 jobs.
Mr Blair, 78, (picture below) is known as the friendly, smiling face of Darlington town center. He made his first appearance at his parents’ market stall as a baby, worked his first paid shift at the age of five and began working there full-time in 1960. In 2012 he was awarded the British Empire Medal for his dedication to Darlington.
Mr Blair said: “I am deeply honored because Darlington Building Society has been an important part of the town for generations and it is wonderful to see them breathing new life into such a historic building.”
Before the lunchtime opening on November 2nd, Darlington journalist and historian Chris Lloyd will give an illustrated talk in the market hall on the legacy of the High Row building and the Darlington Building Society.
And on Saturday, November 4th, the opening of the branch will be celebrated with an open day, which will also include face painters and stilt walkers.
Andrew Craddock, chief executive of Darlington Building Society, said: “At a time when banks are closing so many high street branches, the move of our flagship branch is a further confirmation of our belief in the importance of giving our members choice. and make it as convenient as possible for them to manage their finances.
“We are delighted to have Robin Blair join us at the opening, a senior figure from the Treasury who embodies all the values we hold dear – friendly customer service, commitment to the local community, loyalty and trust.”