representing Officers and families of

The Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited

and its subsidiaries & affiliates.

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EXTRACTS FROM THE STORY OF AUSTRALIA’S PEOPLE The Rise and Rise of a New Australia - Geoffrey Blainey Penguin Random House Australia 2016

 In Chapter Nine The banks crash, Blainey refers to the effects of the arrival of the depression of the 1890s in three stages – a moderate slump, followed by bank crashes and then by drought. There are some interesting parts in relation to the CBC and NBA.

“Banks had more prestige here than they had in England, the United States, France and probably almost any country in the advanced world. In most Australian cities the noblest buildings were the churches and the big banks. Indeed, the head offices of most banks were built like temples with vast chambers decorated with Italian marble, fine-grained woods, chandeliers, and even stained glass in Gothic windows.”

Five banks closed in April 1893.

“The National Bank of Australasia was first assailed by panicking depositors at its relatively unimportant Perth office on Monday 17 April 1893………. On Monday 1 May the crisis was acute. The bank did not open its doors, and they remained closed for weeks.”

“…… and in Sydney the idea of the old Commercial Banking Company of Sydney failing to meet a request for gold seemed sacrilegious……”

In 1874 George (later Sir) Dibbs was elected to the NSW Parliament and after two short periods as Premier, became full-term Premier in 1891.

“As his older brother Thomas was general manager of the respected Commercial Banking Company of Sydney, Dibbs……… probably realised that almost every nation in Europe and North America possessed what no other Australian colony possessed – a simple law that permitted banks to smother a panic with paper money when a state of emergency was declared.”

A Bank Notes Act was passed by his government on 3 May 1893 which allowed certain banks to pay out their own printed banknotes instead of gold.

“Unfortunately the new law was first enforced only after the huge Commercial Banking Company of Sydney closed its doors. While it therefore failed to save the bank that was managed by Dibbs’ brother, it probably prevented the panic from engulfing Sydney. Moreover it released stocks of gold that, no longer required in New South Wales, could reinforce endangered banks in other colonies.”

“Nothing in the history of English banking could match our disaster of 1893.”

“Nearly all the banking companies that in 1893 had closed their doors prepared to open them……….. The first bank reopened five weeks after it had closed and the last bank nineteen weeks after it had closed.”


Much of the conditions experienced during the first 100 years of the Bank's existence were recorded in the centenary publication "A Century of Banking".

This publication is available on CD for $10.


Interested in the Bank's heritage buildings? The Architects and their creations are listed in this article.


By 1892 the Bank had 152 branches; Head Office, 10 in Sydney, 127 in NSW country, 13 in Queensland and a London Office.  By 1896 22 of the country branches had closed.

The Bank issued its own currency -

see Banknotes.  


Brisbane Floods 1893

Correspondence from the Manager Brisbane to General Manager Head Office (in .rtf Word format).
This information was supplied by Ray Knight, who read excerpts to the December 2006 meeting.

To commemorate his 60 years' service in the Bank, the General Manager donated the sum of 5,000 pounds to inaugurate a fund for the relief of cases of sickness, distress or misfortune that may arise among Officers of the Bank.  This sum the Directors have placed to a special account under the name of "The T. A. Dibbs Officers' Relief Fund."  (109th Report, January 1908).

The Bank's Seal

A bit of info on the actual ship that is portrayed on the seal of the CBC Bank. It is the clipper "Thermopylae." and was similar to the famous "Cutty Sark."

The official CBC Bank seal has evolved over the years to its present form which depicts the trading vessel "Thermopylae" and its produce cargo. From an original painting by Australian artist and sculptor Dennis Adams.

David Jobson

Thermopylae was an extreme composite clipper ship built in 1868 by Walter Hood & Co of Aberdeen to the design of Bernard Weymouth of London for the White Star Line of Aberdeen.

She measured 212'0"×36'0"×20'9" and tonnage 991 GRT, 948 NRT and 927 tons under deck. The under deck coefficient was 0,58. Rigged with royal sails, single topgallant and double top-sails.

She was designed for the China tea trade, and set speed records on her maiden voyage to Melbourne -- 63 days, still the fastest trip under sail. In 1872 she raced the clipper Cutty Sark from Shanghai back to London and won by seven days after Cutty Sark lost her rudder. In 1895 she was sold to Portugal and used as a naval training ship. The Portuguese Navy torpedoed her at sea in 1906

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