The HSBC Bank Building

There are several commercial banks in the vicinity of the Market Place and High Street, but the HSBC is the only one designed by Kettering’s most famous architect, John Alfred Gotch.

Gotch was born in Kettering in September 1852 and died here in January 1942. His brother was the notable artist Thomas Cooper Gotch. John Alfred Gotch attended Kettering Grammar School and later studied at the University of Zürich and at King’s College London. In 1879 he established an architectural practice in Kettering which became Gotch, Saunders & Surridge. The firm still exists as GSS Architecture and has been involved in the design of the new Gallery, Library and Museum complex.

In Kettering, and neighbouring towns Gotch was responsible for the design and construction of many buildings including the Alfred East Gallery, and the former Kettering Grammar School in Bowling Green Road. He is sometimes called ‘the man who built Kettering’ and a blue Civic Society plaque can be seen above the entrance to the side passage of the bank. The bank was originally the premises of the Midland Bank. Gotch’s practice designed and built over 140 branches of the Midland Bank and, in association with Edwin Lutyens, he also designed the interior of the Bank’s former headquarters in London. The Midland Bank came into being in 1923 and by 1934 was the largest deposit bank in the world. In June 1992, it was taken over by HSBC plc.

As well as being a practising architect, John Alfred Gotch became President of the Architectural Association and of the Northamptonshire Association of Architects, then President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). He was also an art historian and became Vice-President of the Society of Antiquaries, a founder member of the Royal Fine Art Commission and a Trustee of the Soane Museum in London. Gotch was appointed Kettering’s first Charter Mayor in 1938. The bank is well worth a look inside, particularly for the staircase and the ceiling decorations, the plasterwork and the wood panelling.

Researched by John F Wilson

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