Our story

NS&I has a long and varied history over more than 150 years. In good times and bad, we're always looking for new and innovative ways to help the nation save.

Foundation

The industrial revolution

As the Industrial Revolution progresses through the 19th century, there's a growing need for industrial workers to put money away ‘for a rainy day’. Special institutions spring up to promote thrift and encourage ordinary citizens to save.

Samuel Whitbread MP

First stirrings

Samuel Whitbread MP proposes a Savings Bank operated by the Post Office on behalf of the Government. Money deposited would be held in a ‘Poors Fund’ and invested in Government stock. Far from happy with this idea, the big banks use their power to create sufficient opposition and the Bill is defeated.

Victorian era

Victorian era

Great Britain and its Empire are growing and expanding. This, combined with the Industrial Revolution, widens the gap between rich and poor. Many Britons suffer poverty with little hope for the future.

Post Office Savings Bank Act, 1861

Post Office Savings Bank Act 1861

The Post Office Savings Bank Act sets out the Government’s plans to provide savings accounts to British people through the Post Office.

National Savings Founded

William Gladstone, Chancellor of the Exchequer, launches the Post Office Savings Bank ‘within an hour’s walk of every working man’s fireside’. The first available product is the Ordinary Savings Account.

The National Debt Act

The National Debt Act enables people with Post Offices and Trustee Savings Banks savings accounts to extend their savings by investing in Government Stock funds. Dividends are payable only by credit to the savings accounts concerned.

Constance Smith

Overcoming sexism (slowly)

Sir John Tillbery, Post Office Secretary, radically suggests appointing ‘a few gentlewomen’ to work in the National Savings Bank. One, 23-year-old Constance Smith, sets out to show how women can do just as good a job as men. She’ll go on to become Superintendent of the Bank. Under her watch, the number of female employees grows from 35 in 1876 to 3000 by 1913!

Penny Bank at Board School, 1890s

Savings stamps launched

Penny savings stamps are launched. Saving up one shilling (12 pence) is enough to open a Post Office Savings Bank account.

Shooting Range on the roof of Blythe House, 1907

A new HQ

With National Savings booming, an office move becomes essential. The planning of a large building at Blythe Road, London, begins. The elaborate new building sets standards in office design and efficiency. It even has its own shooting range on the roof.

Labour saving device for folding and fastening acknowledgements and warrants, c1890s

Folding machines

With centennial fervour running high, the Savings Bank adopts the latest labour-saving devices to deal with increased customer correspondence. Folding and fastening machines are becoming the future.

JHR West, Controller in Civil Uniform, 1913

New National Savings uniforms

Welcome to our new uniform - the dashing ‘Civil Uniform of the Fourth Class’.

Contract for the first Home Safe, Dec 11, 1911

Home safes

The first Home Safe becomes one of the most popular ways of saving. A saver has to pay a deposit to obtain an oval-shaped metal box to hold their money.

Wartime

First World War

First World War

The First World War brings a sharp increase in the Government’s need to borrow money. Introduced in 1917, paying 5 per cent interest, National War Bonds form part of Government efforts to fund the ongoing cost of the war. Along with every sector of industry and society, the Savings Bank sees many employees lose their lives, from 18-year-old boy clerks to older, senior members of staff.

How to save-Lord Kitchener, 1916

National War Savings Committee founded

National War Savings Committees are set up to encourage savings and thrift - organising savings in factories, housing estates, schools, shops and offices. Continuing well into peacetime, the Committees produce posters and exhibitions that help to make National Savings a truly successful institution.

Women of Britain Save Your Country - Buy Saving Certificates 'Joan Of Arc' - Advert, 1918

War Savings Certificates

Focused on funding the war effort, National Savings introduces War Savings Certificates, which cost 15s and 6d each and become worth £1 within 5 years.

Special Savings Stamps launched

New Special Stamps feature designs including Britannia and a Swastika - then only known as a Sanskrit symbol of good fortune.

War Bonds - Trafalgar Square, 1910s

WW1 Success

The amount raised during the 1st World War totals almost £433 million (the equivalent of nearly £24 billion, based on 2018 values). By the end of the War Bonds campaign (30th September 1917 to 31st March 1918), there are 1,686 War Savings movements and 40,065 War Savings associates.

On 12th March 1919 the Times newspaper said: “Among the new institutions to which the war has given rise, there has been none that has done more valuable work than the National War Savings Committee… But what was even more important fundamentally was the proportion of national economy and saving among the masses of our people.”

Indexed Savings Certificates

War is over, but savings culture remains

The National War Savings Committee drops 'War' from its title and focuses once more on instilling a peacetime savings culture in the UK.

4% Funding Loan 4% Victory Bonds – Advert, 1919

4% Victory bonds

4% Victory Bonds are opened for subscription for one month only, with £100 of bonds being offered for £85.

Ledger Room, 1932

Electric machines

With National Savings staff managing over 10 million accounts in large, leather-bound ledgers, the Savings Bank starts using electric machines for posting to ledger cards, the first in Europe to do so.

The Great Depression

The number of Savings Associations has shrunk from a high of 41,000 in 1919 to no more than 18,400 in 1923. The country has survived immediate post-war social and economic turmoil, including the General Strike of 1926. But the American financial crisis of 1929 rocks the world, followed by a global depression of trade and employment, leading to years of human suffering and desperate endeavours by British governments to regain prosperity.

Travel Warrant Application, c.1935

Traveller’s Warrants and Cruising Credit

Post-war realities have made Saving more than an idea of putting money away for a rainy day. The practice of saving money to spend on necessities, or even affordable luxuries, begins to take off. How about Cruising Credits? This enabled passengers on British cruise ships to take any sum from their Post Office Savings Bank account to use as on-board credit.

World War II

Second World War

The Second World War is the most widespread armed conflict in history, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. In a state of ‘total war’, the major participants throw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources.

Lend To Defend The Right To Be Free - Advert

Lend to defend

Throughout the Second World War, the Savings Bank runs a nationwide campaign to fund the war effort. This ranges from small, community-based initiatives, to large campaigns in key locations in London. Between 1939 and 1946, Savings Bank deposits rise from £509 million to £1,982 million and the number of accounts more than double from 11 to 24 million.

Buy Defence Bonds - Advert

Defence Bonds

In November 1939, the 'Lend to Defend' campaign coincides with a new issue of National Savings Certificates and the introduction of new Defence Bonds.

The Blythe Spirit, 1942

Blythe Spirit

Early in World War II, Savings Bank staff raise more than £5000 to buy a Spitfire for the RAF. They name it after the HQ, Blythe House.

The Blitz of London, 1940s

Blitzed

During the Blitz, London is systematically bombed by the Luftwaffe for 56 out of 57 consecutive days and nights. Many National Savings Staff suffer from the bombardment, but others help with the Home Guard, Fire Watching and First Aid. Some run a magazine called ‘Bank Notes’, aimed at Savings Bank men in uniform. Special arrangements provide saving accounts for service men from the allied forces; including Poles, Belgians, Canadians, Greeks, Czechoslovakians and Americans.

From The Prime Minister

Savings Campaign Weeks

Savings groups are organised everywhere to adopt battleships, aircraft carriers, cruisers and destroyers - villages, towns and cities all raise money with patriotic enthusiasm. British national savings campaigns include Warship Weeks in 1941, Wings for Victory Weeks in 1943, and Salute the Soldier Weeks in 1944.

Microfilm Reader, c1940s

Microfilm

Encryption technology developed during the War now has civilian applications. Microfilm used for secret messages between battlefields, soldiers and leaders now solves the Bank’s storage problems after years of relentless deposit growth.

Colussus

The First Digital Computer

To help read German coded radio messages during World War II, codebreakers at Bletchley Park create in secret the world's first programmable electronic digital computer, Colossus. After the war, their expertise contributes to the technology underlying Premium Bonds.

Peacetime

Rebuilding the nation

To Build For Prosperity... Save Now - Advert

Rebuilding the nation

The impact of the war is felt for many years afterwards, with rationing active until 1954. Now, the Savings Bank plays a pivotal role in helping to rebuild the nation – it’s time for the nation to look forward to more optimistic times.

War Savings, Post Office, 1940s

War gratuities

The Government decides to pay war gratuities – one-off payments to returning veterans - by a transfer to the Savings Bank instead of in cash. In under two years, nearly seven million gratuity accounts are opened to receive payments of £370 million.

Harold McMillan with Premium Bond, 1956

Introducing Premium Bonds

Premium Bonds are an idea dating back to the First World War. Now, from 1 November 1956, they’re actually on sale for the first time. Harold Wilson, Shadow Chancellor, calls Premium Bonds a ‘squalid raffle’. Church leaders warn it will lead the population to gambling. The British public buys £5 million worth on the first day (the equivalent of approximately £121 million, based on 2018 values)

Introducing Ernie!

Ernie 1

Introducing Ernie!

The Team behind the Second World War code breaker, Colossus, gets to build the machine that selects the winning Premium Bond numbers. Introducing ERNIE (Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment) – he’ll generate bond numbers based on the signal noise created by neon tubes.

First ever winning Premium Bond number, 1957

The First Draw

Lytham St. Anne’s, near Blackpool, Lancashire, England. 9.15am, 1 June 1957. Ernest Marples, Postmaster-General, flicks a switch. Sixteen minutes later, the first winning number is produced: Premium Bond IFK341150, held by an investor in Cumbria. It should take 30 hours for ERNIE to complete his task, but the draw goes on until 3 June, because the engineers and staff must get some rest.

National Savings - Durham

National Savings moves operations outside of London

As part of the Government's plan to move the Civil Service outside Central London, National Savings’ Certificate Operation relocates to Milburngate House, Durham.

Computer Age

The Computer Age

The era of mainframe computers sees rapidly improving transistor technology. Massive, room-sized computers are expensive to buy and maintain, but they’re soon providing data calculation way faster and greater than anything human beings can do.

LEO-326 Computer, 1970

LEO 326

Employing about 9,000 people handling over 20 million accounts by the late 1950s, the Savings Bank has no choice but to modernise further. Computers can help. In 1962, National Savings invests in two LEO 326 Machines and ICT punchcard technology. By 1968, the first computer-based accounts are up and running.

A National Savings Security-5% Development Bonds - Advert

National Development Bonds

War has been over for two decades. It’s finally time to replace Defence Bonds, first introduced to help finance World War II in 1939, with National Development Bonds.

Glasgow Site c1965

A New HQ in Glasgow

Moving? Again? The Fleming Report on the location of government offices does not specify where the Savings Bank should move. After a tender process, Cowglen, Glasgow is the right choice. With the latest punched card processing equipment, Glasgow is soon dealing with an increasing proportion of the work of the London Balancing Branch.

Your new, safe, easy investment account - Advert

Investment account

After a period of successful preparation, the Savings Bank Investment Account opens for business on 20 June 1966. On the first day of business, 2,831 accounts are opened, with balances totalling £766,485. Within 6 months, there are 200,000 accounts and £70 million in savings.

British Savings Bonds - Advert

British Savings Bonds

From the 1 April 1968, British Savings Bonds replace National Development Bonds, allowing an individual to buy up to £10,000 of the Bonds in total.

National Savings Logo

Department for National Savings

The Savings Bank needs a new name. Responsibility is transferring from the Post Office to HM Treasury. Welcome to the Department for National Savings, with The Director of Savings as the person in charge.

We're happy to announce the birth of the National Savings Bank

National Savings goes its own way

The 1969 Post Office Act breaks the link between National Savings and the Post Office. One of the largest Government Departments with over 14,000 employees, the Department becomes one of the largest users of computers in Government Service.

Cowglen, Glasgow HQ Opening, Royal Visit, Queen Elizabeth, 1970

Royal Opening of Glasgow HQ

Her Majesty the Queen opens the Cowglen building in Glasgow and meets a pensioner who was also present at the opening of the Blythe Road HQ in 1903!

National Savings Bank Act

Parliament passes a new National Savings Bank Act. It gives legal backing to continue the Ordinary Account and Investment Account as the two products offered by the National Savings Bank. Decimalisation of the national currency also changes the way in which NS&I calculates interest payments.

Ernie 2

ERNIE 2

ERNIE 2

The second generation of ERNIE is created, decreasing the time it takes to make a draw. Designed to look like part of the set of the Bond movie, ‘Goldfinger, ERNIE 2 can generate the necessary numbers in just a few hours, compared to the 10 days it was taking ERNIE 1 to complete the draw by the end of his lifespan.

Computer Centre, c1970s

Computerisation

Technology replaces technology. Instead of holding physical stocks of certificates, a new computer system processes and holds the records of certificate purchases on its own computer files. Goodbye to the two LEO 326 machines and welcome to a new ICL System 4-72 machine. Farewell to the punch card system as the PCK (Processor Controlled Keying System) takes over.

Retirement National Savings Certificates. Index-linked to protect your nest egg - Advert

Index-linked Savings Certificate

In an age of social and economic turbulence, the Index-linked Savings Certificate helps retirees to protect their savings against inflation.

The End of 4% Victory Bonds

The final Victory Bond, opened in 1919, is redeemed.

Savings Stamps withdrawn from sale

Amid high inflation in the global economy, the once-popular Savings Stamps have to go.

Actress Marie Lohr with Scout Helper, Tank Bank, Trafalgar Square, Dec 1917

End of the National Savings Committees

After more than 60 years, the voluntary National Savings Committees for England, Wales and Scotland service decide to disband.

Microcomputer, 1986

Micro-Computers

The introduction of ICL DRS20 micro-computers linked to a central mainframe now provides an Account Validation Service, with dramatic success in fighting fraud.

New National Saving Income Bonds - Advert

Indexed-Income Bond

First Issue of the Indexed-Income Bond, paying a monthly income guaranteed for 10 years. After the first year, income increases to match the Retail Prices Index.

Ernie 3

Premium Bonds Ernie Mk3

Ernie 3

It’s time for ERNIE 3. The new Logica CMG equipment produces 330,000 numbers per hour, five times faster than ERNIE 2 at the end of his lifespan. By now, there are approximately 2.2 billion Premium Bonds in circulation.

Children's Bonus Bonds introduced

The first Children's Bonus Bonds goes on sale.

IRST Option Bonds

FIRST Option Bonds

First Option Bonds, one-year fixed rate bonds of 7.75%, net of basic-rate tax, went on sale. They were extremely popular, and within a year the interest rate on offer had decreased to 4.75%.

Agent Million

Premium Bonds first millionaire

It’s the very first £1 million prize. ‘Agent Million’ has the special pleasure of finding and informing the winner of their jackpot win. The first millionaire is a man from Surrey with £10,000 invested.

Internet Age

The Internet Age

The Computer Age is giving way to the Internet Age. The Netscape corporation introduces SSL, opening up a world where internet payments can be made online. The mp3 file format and amazon.com launch and Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 1.

Pensioners Guaranteed Income Bonds

Now, you only need to be 60 to buy Pensioners Guaranteed Income Bonds. The maximum holding limit increases from £20,000 to £50,000.

National Savings becomes an Executive Agency

On 1 July 1996, National Savings is established as an Executive Agency of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Premium Bonds-Ernie’s 40th Birthday Cake

Celebrating 40 years of Premium Bonds

Celebrating 40 years of Premium Bonds, with total investment increasing by 25% in just one year.

Nationalsavings.co.uk, 1998

www.nationalsavings.co.uk Launched

National Savings joins the internet age with a new website, showcasing its range of products and services. Customers can set up accounts without having to visit a Post Office or contact the call centre.

Outsourcing operations

National Savings successfully outsources operations to Siemens, with thousands of Civil Servants retaining their jobs under different direct management. It is the biggest ever single move of staff contracts from the Civil Service to the private sector, delivering savings for taxpayers and more accountability on delivering against a multi-million-pound private contract.

NS&I brand identity

NS&I Rebrand

'National Savings' is rebranded as 'National Savings & Investments'. A new logo contains a conker emerging from its shell, representing security and renewal. Chosen after conducting market research with customers, the word 'Investment' is included to better represent what the organisation does.

Ernie 4

Ernie Mk4

ERNIE 4

ERNIE 4 is unveiled. ERNIE 3 couldn't generate more than 10-digit numbers and by 2004 there was a need for a new machine that could generate 11-digit numbers. Developed by Logica CMG, the monthly draw takes ERNIE 4 2.5 hours, producing one million numbers per hour.

Nsandi.com website, 2005

nsandi.com relaunched

NS&I launches a new website with full sales capability.

Premium Bonds is 50 - bus at Royal Exchange

Celebrating 50 years of Premium Bonds

It’s the 50th anniversary of Premium Bonds! A special draw offers five separate £1million jackpots to in December, with an additional five jackpots in June 2007 - the 50th anniversary of the first draw.

Prizechecker App

Prize Checker App

Thanks to an updated version of the Prize Checker app, Premium Bonds holders can now see if they've won while on the go, and can store their numbers for future draws.

Explaining ERNIE

It is sometimes difficult to explain how we can prove ERNIE's number generation is truly random. Previous attempts used music and sound to explain random noise, but in 2015 we had some 'serious fun' with paint, amplifiers and some very, very white dust sheets. At least, they were white to begin with...

New premises for a new-look business

While NS&I continues to reduce the cost of its operations to taxpayers, new premises are required for the Durham and Blackpool offices. The demolition of ‘ERNIE Tower’ - Blackpool's second-most-famous tall building - draws a large crowd.

NS&I website relaunch

The nsandi.com website relaunches with a major focus on customers’ ability to transact on the site. It is now much easier for customers to see their savings and investments, make deposits and withdrawals and update their personal details.

NS&I Adviser Centre Website

Adviser centre website launch

NS&I launches a new version of its dedicated website for financial advisers, planners and paraplanners – the Adviser Centre (www.nsandi-adviser.com).

NS&I Corporate Website

NS&I Corporate and Media Site relaunch

The new Corporate and Media Site features a much brighter, friendlier look and feel, with more content for customers, researchers, the media and the general public.