History of Saffron

It is known that there was a Building Society in Saffron Walden in 1847, but the only remaining record of this is a bank passbook now in the County Record Office.

In January 1849 the 'Saffron Walden Second Building Society' was founded by the Rev'd John Marten, who became the first Secretary. He was Minister of Hill Street Baptist Church, and also Manager of the Gas Company.

The first Chairman of the Society was a local builder named Joseph Durrant, and by 1857 this Society, which had originally been a 'terminating Society', had become permanent and was known as 'The Saffron Walden Second Benefit Building & Investment Society on the Permanent Plan'. The Directors in their report for that year remarked on the 'very large amount of money lent' - £1,730. By 1873 under the Chairmanship of Henry Hart, the printer, things were growing. The Directors were each paid £1 per year and there were local Directors for the Clavering district.

This steady but unspectacular growth continued, assets reaching £37,000 by 1900. At this time the Society was still being operated from a Solicitor's office, but in 1930 it first purchased its own premises. Fitzroy Ackland, a well known local Solicitor, was Secretary from 1866 to 1905. In 1905 William Freeman, a Clerk with Mr Ackland's firm was appointed Secretary. He held the office for thirty years by which time it had become a full-time job. He was succeeded by his son, Edward Hughes Freeman, who died in 1947. Philip Sidney Ketteridge then became Secretary, and in his twenty-three years of office saw many changes. Assets had reached £300,000 by 1948 and the £1 million mark was reached in 1959. In 1968 it took over the small Saffron Walden & Essex Mechanics Permanent Building Society. In the next year the first Branch Office was opened at Haverhill.

In 1972 the Royston & District Building Society transferred its engagements to the Society and by the end of 1978 the Society, then known as the Saffron Walden & District Building Society, had assets of over £21 million with four offices. In 1979 came the merger with the London & Essex Building Society and the change of name to Saffron Walden & Essex. This merger, together with the more substantial growth that had been taking place for some years, led to the need for new and larger premises. After 1981 the Society had the opportunity of purchasing the redundant Cattle Market Site in Saffron Walden on which Saffron House has now been built.

The Society opened for business in its new office with its own "in-house" computer system on the 16th January 1984 and in March 1984 the Duke of Norfolk, who then was President of the Building Societies Association, officially opened the building.

In April 1989 the Society merged with the Herts & Essex Building Society, based in Bishop's Stortford, which consolidated the Society's position within the area. The Society's name changed to Saffron Walden Herts & Essex Building Society. In September 2006 the Society changed its name again to Saffron Building Society.

The Society continues to grow and in 2011 it's assets exceeded the £1billion mark for the first time. Saffron has branches throughout Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk.

We're over 160 years old!

We were first established in 1849 and decided in 2009 to celebrate our 160th year in style. Few financial service providers can boast such a long history, and we felt that we had a lot to celebrate. So 2009 was dedicated to our anniversary celebrations; these included running a number of initiatives and products which rewarded our members for seeing us through the 160 years, and giving something back to the communities around our branch network.

We held four parties at various branches and local people were invited to help us celebrate our 160th birthday!

Tuesday 28th July - Party at Saffron Walden branch with all proceeds going to the Teenage Cancer Trust

Friday 7th August - Party at Halstead branch with all proceeds going to St. Helena Hospice

Thursday 13th August - Party at Bishop's Stortford branch with all proceeds going to Kisses 4 Kids

Friday 14th August - Party at Haverhill branch with all proceeds going to the Sick Children's Trust

All four parties were brilliant! We had candy floss, balloons, cakes, face painting and giant, stilt walking jugglers! Visit our facebook page for photos!

We also decided to give something back by rolling up our sleeves and donating 160 hours of staff time to volunteering!