Learn more about our beginnings.
The start of something good
On a cold day in January 1884, a group of men gathered with the aim of doing something to change their world. They wanted to help people save their money, buy their own homes and improve their lives. So, they founded the Southern Co-operative Permanent Building Society.
We’ve grown a lot since then, merging with around 250 other building societies. And although our name has changed, our aims have remained the same.
We’re a mutual, which means we’re owned by our members and focus on what’s best for them. It’s what we’ve always done. And what we will continue to do.
Our brand through the years
When the Southern Co-operative Permanent Building Society was first formed, our founders chose an image of the stepped pyramid of Saqqara in Egypt as its logo. To them, it represented stability and permanence.
The pyramid was used as our logo for the next 100 years. When we became Nationwide in 1970, we adapted it to have a pound sign within it. This was to show that our customers’ money was safe with us.
We merged with Anglia in the 1980s, leading to new branding. We chose a stylised village scene with a tree, house, and a tall building in the background to represent industry. We wanted to show that we were caring and approachable, as well as secure, efficient and progressive. And the village remained our logo until 2023.
Our updated logo draws on our heritage but is simpler and more modern. We wanted something that shows us as an organisation that supports people throughout their lives. We think a rising sun behind a home does that.
1884: The Southern Co-operative Permanent Building Society is formed
1890s onwards: We support members through difficult times by offering “exemptions during distress.”
We still offer these breaks, but they’re now known as mortgage payment holidays.
1904: We’re the first UK financial services provider to offer savings boxes
Like piggy banks, these were available for members and their children. You took home a locked box to put cash into, bringing it back to the branch when full. Only the branch had the key, so they could not be raided.
1908: We support the development of Letchworth, the world's first Garden City
This was part of our commitment to provide better homes for the good of society. And, over 100 years later, we’ve built Oakfield – a 239 sustainable home development in Swindon.
1925: Our first branch opens in Birmingham
Before then, members used to meet in places like pubs, schools or libraries. Within 10 years, we had 19 branches, including 2 in Scotland. There were over 30 branches by the time war broke out in 1939.
1970: We officially become Nationwide
By this point we had 150 branches across the UK. And an ambitious plan to open many more. Our new name reflected this. It was also less of a mouthful.
1997: Our members vote to remain a building society and not become a bank
More people voted in the 1997 Nationwide AGM than in that year’s Welsh referendum on creating a National Assembly.
2007: Members vote to give 1% of pre-tax profits to charitable causes
We’ve given approximately £55.4 million to charity since 2017.
2019: We make our branch promise
We continue our commitment to having a presence on the high street.