113-116 Bute Street is steeped in history.

Stepping into The Old NatWest Building offers a glimpse into Cardiff's rich history. The National Provincial Bank (as it used to be known) was labelled as "one of the finest buildings of its kind in South Wales." Built in 1927 by architects F.C.R Palmer and W.F.C Holden, the building was the highest structure of any size in the Cardiff Docks at the time.

The original Cardiff Docks branch of the National Provincial Bank opened in Bute Street in 1873, and then moved to another location on the same street in about 1893. Work began on the new building in 1924 and was completed in 1927. The site was originally developed in about 1847 as a terrace of four houses, which were demolished to make way for the present building.

Designed by F.C.R. Palmer (architect to National Provincial Bank, Limited) and W.F.C. Holden (assistant architect), the construction of 113-116 Bute Street had marked a significant stage in the commercial development of Cardiff adding to the current sense of confidence in the future. There was an anticipation of further commercial success for the city as well as wider prosperity for the Dockland developments.

The site was not an easy one to build upon, as the ground was former marshland and it was necessary to go down to a depth of 35-40ft before proper foundations could be reached.

The building has interesting elevations in Neo-Classical style, and is a steel-framed structure faced in Portland stone on Cornish Granite Plinths. It consists of the main banking hall on the ground floor (with bank vaults in the basement) and offices on the four upper floors. The banking hall is an impressive, lofty space populated by columns of French Echaillon marble from the neighbourhood of Grenoble.

The banking hall boasts an impressive Doric frieze, based on designs found on ancient Greek coins in the British museum, whilst the exterior is populated by two bronze figures at both entrances. Entitled ‘In the balance’, by J. A. Stevenson, they are each a symbol of Equity holding a balance. The forms of the bowl and balance are taken from ancient Greek examples and the Mercury head, also derived from the same source, was actually used as a standard of weight.


The Old NatWest Bank Building, 113-116 Bute Street, Cardiff Bay, CF10 5EQ. Tel: 07753 827886 / 02920 666623. Fax: 02920 666613.

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