“Meet me at your bank – and bring your cheque-book”

Drummonds Bank, London
Drummonds Bank, London

On a trip to London last week I made a detour via Trafalgar Square to take these photos of Drummonds Bank.  Why?

Because the bank was already in existence on this site when Charles Deville Wells was active in London during the 1890s.  Wells, known as a “gambler and fraudster extraordinaire”, persuaded one of his victims – the Honourable William Trench – to back him in a phony patent scheme.  After handing over the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of pounds, Trench started to have doubts about the project, and when Wells asked for a further advance of money the young aristocrat hesitated.

Finally they agreed to meet at Drummonds Bank, where many wealthy people, including members of the royal family had accounts.  This was also where Trench banked.

Trench was persuaded to hand over a further large sum of money, but demanded that Wells provide security.  Wells offered two of his steam yachts and a smaller vessel as collateral, claiming that they were worth a substantial sum.

Predictably, Trench later discovered that the two yachts were virtually worthless, while the smaller craft had disappeared.  In company with Wells’ many other victims, Trench became resigned to the fact that he would never regain any of the money he had put into the scheme.  Twenty years later, however, in an extraordinary twist of fate, the situation changed dramatically …

A gleaming brass plate outside Drummonds Bank, Trafalgar Square. This almost turned out to be a selfie, but I thought I'd spare you that!
A gleaming brass plate outside Drummonds Bank, Trafalgar Square. This almost turned out to be a selfie, but I thought I’d spare you that!

 

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