When I was Principal Staff Training in The Bank of Adelaide, and probably because of Editor of the Bank's Magazine (which went with the job), I was instructed to write a brief history of the Bank. This was reproduced in the "Report to Staff 1978", and in the possible likelihood that it may be of interest to some it went as follows:
"From modest beginnings The Bank of Adelaide grew into an institution of which its staff could be proud. Of course it was closely identified with South Australia, but as far back as 1890 it spread beyond the confines of the State. In many respects it enjoyed some unique qualities.
The die was cast when a group of Adelaide's leading citizens met to discuss the formation of a bank sympathetic to local requirements. The first Directors were the Hon (later Sir) Henry Ayres (Chairman), Hon T Magarey, Messrs. T G Waterhouse, R Barr-Smith and G P Harris. Other prominent men associated with the Bank's formation were Dr F C Bayer, and Messrs John Dunn, I S Henry, Sir William Morgan, William Peacock and R A Tarlton. The Trustees under the Deed of Settlement were Messrs Joseph Fisher, Anthony Hall and James Smith.
The new Bank commenced business in Gresham Chambers where the AMP Society now stands. The premises were rented, but later the Bank moved to its permanent site at the corner of King William and Currie Streets, where some years before Captain Sturt had left on an expedition which resulted in the discovery of the Barrier Ranges and Cooper Creek.
When the first balance sheet was presented, four branches had been opened, the first at Kapunda, followed by Port Adelaide, Gawler and Goolwa. In 1886, a local institution, the Commercial Bank of South Australia, failed, and by taking over many of its branches, premises and staff, The Bank of Adelaide considerably strengthened its base.
The London Office was opened in 1890, as a direct link with the 'mother country' was considered imperative. The commencement of representation with the United Kingdom provided vital functions with Europe, and the service to Australian visitors, whether on business or pleasure became legendary.
Financial disasters happen from time to time in every nation's history, but the year 1893 ranks high with the worst in South Australia. Many banks closed their doors, some never to open again. While commercial and political circles were vainly attempting to stem the tide of a crisis originated by an orgy of land speculation, The Bank of Adelaide remained open conducting normal operations. No other local banking institution survived. Its prestige deservedly enhanced by the triumphal emergence from these troublous times, the Bank was proclaimed by the Government under the Trustee Act 1893 as a Bank in which trustees could deposit funds without liability to themselves. For many years the Bank was the only bank in South Australia to enjoy that privilege.
The turn of the century heralded a great pioneering period by the Bank, especially in the development of primary industry. Important districts in the mid-north were beginning to progress with the advent of superphosphate and the subdivision of station properties, and branches at Balaklava, Brinkworth and Port Broughton were opened.