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Black and white sketch of the Salvation Army headquarters building facade

Our Heritage

Ethical banking. A little trend we started back in 1890…

Soup, soap and salvation

A former Methodist Reform Church minister named William Booth founds the East London Christian Mission, later renamed The Salvation Army. At a time of immense hardship, its mission is to help London’s poor, destitute and hungry, by providing “first, soup; second, soap; and finally, salvation.”

1890

The bank is founded

William Booth (founder of The Salvation Army) sets up The Salvation Army Deposit Bank. All deposits are used to help buy properties for The Salvation Army. From day one, social good is at the heart of the bank’s mission. 

A year later the bank is registered as The Salvation Army Bank.

1890

A rallying cry from William Booth

Booth writes a book entitled ‘In Darkest England and the Way Out’. Describing the social crisis of the time and his vision for change, it lays out his early philosophy for The Salvation Army – a philosophy that has underpinned Reliance Bank ever since.

1891

Salvation Army Match Factory opened in Old Ford, East London

The famous match girl strike was caused by the poor working conditions and severe health complications of working with white phosphorus, in the match factory. So William Booth improved the safety of matches and working conditions for the factory workers.

1899

A gift to the Salvation Army

Instructed by General Bramwell Booth (William’s son) the bank makes a deposit of £682 to The Salvation Army. Worth almost £87,000 in today’s money, it is the first recorded example of a gift from the bank to support the work of The Salvation Army.

1900

Mortgages for Salvation Army properties

Deposits lodged with The Salvation Army Bank total over £200,000. Over half of this is being loaned to The Salvation Army on property mortgages at home and abroad.

1901

Change of name and limited status

The Salvation Army Bank becomes Reliance Bank Ltd. The bank moves to 103 Queen Victoria Street, next door to the Salvation Army International HQ. It is said that William Booth, waiting for a cab, looks through the window to approve how earnestly the bank staff are working!

1901

Encouraging thrift

A significant feature of the bank’s business is savings accounts with interest at 2.5% and withdrawals on demand. At least two fifths of these accounts are held by working class people, supporting William Booth’s cardinal principle to encourage thrift.

1941

Disaster strikes

The bank is destroyed by fire after an air raid. The next morning, emergency business is transacted from a temporary office. The day after that, trestle tables are set up in vacant classrooms at The International (William Booth Memorial) Training College in south London. This remains the bank’s home for the next 6 years.

1948

The bank moves back to Queen Victoria Street

1950

‘A vigorous instrument of a noble ideal!’

Reliance Bank receives a positive write-up in The Banker magazine.

2018

A change of ownership and beginning of a new chapter

The Salvation Army International Trustee Company Ltd became the sole shareholder of the Bank following many years of joint ownership with The Salvation Army Trustee Company Ltd. A new 5- year strategic plan was approved providing investment to introduce new and improved products, improve operational capabilities and support an expanded mission to enable positive social impact.

2019

Giving Money Meaning - rebranding Reliance Bank

The bank launches its new branding, updated to reflect the bank’s renewed commitment to socially responsible banking.

The Salvation Army

We are proud to be the bank of The Salvation Army International. Find out more about our shared history.