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History of Saffron

Our heritage

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, with 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 30 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 23 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 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 its assets exceeded the £1billion mark for the first time. Saffron has branches throughout Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk.