The Abbey National Building Society was the result of a merger in 1944 between the Abbey Road Building Society which had been founded in 1874 and the National Building Society which had been established in 1849 and which, within months of its foundation, had become by far the largest building society in England.

The first offices of the National Freehold Land Society, from which the National Building Society developed and of which one of the founders was Richard Cobden, were at No. 11 Poultry. The Abbey National became a public limited company in 1989; in 2003 it was rebranded as ‘Abbey’ and in 2004 was taken over by a Spanish bank.

For many years the company’s head office was at Abbey House, Baker Street, where letters were regularly received addressed to the great detective Sherlock Holmes who, according to Conan Doyle, lived in a house (No. 221B) on this site.

Excerpted from The London Encyclopaedia by kind permission of the Publishers, Pan MacMillan.

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