Lucy Newton

Lucy Newton researches in the area of financial history. This includes work on the development and marketing of English retail and multinational banks during the 9th and 20th centuries. Other areas of research interest include regional industrial clusters, the history of women's investment; the history of corporate governance; the history of trust in business; and the history of the manufacture and marketing of consumer god in 19th century Britain.


Banks and the finance of industry

Relationships between banks and their industrial customers, especially the nature of trust built between banks and customers, has been an important theme in my work on banks and the finance of industry. My work has moved forward from the nineteenth into the twentieth century to consider the changing nature of financial provision by banks following the amalgamation movement in Britain which started in the 1880s and culminated in 1918 with the remained 'Big Five' clearing banks. Another theme is the impact upon regional and national economies of the propensities of banks to lend to industry. In the twentieth century, intervention by governments to involve banks in promoting economic recovery and/or provision of finance to small-scale enterprises has been an issue considered with Professor Peter Scott.

Touting for business: British Banks and Building Societies in the twentieth century

This strand of research considers the marketing, advertising and public relations activities of the 'Big Five' British clearing banks from 1918-1970 and of building societies in the inter-war period.

From the perspective of British retail banks in the twentieth century, the work examines their relationships with, and marketing to, personal customers in order to build upon the growing literature concerned with corporations and their consumers. The work also examines attitudes of bankers themselves towards marketing. Bankers were relatively conservative professionals and were often reluctant to adopt new techniques but they were forced to embrace marketing concepts between 1918 and 1970 in order to compete in tightly regulated and tightly cartelised markets.

From the perspective of building societies, the work examines the role of advertising and promotion in the successful development of nationwide building societies and the market conditions that gave advertising a crucial role in the expansion strategies of the major societies. We examine the marketing messages used by building societies to promote the ideology of mass home ownership and to attract the funds of large numbers of small and medium-savers.

Overall, the work considers the marketing and advertising techniques adopted by banks and building societies and the success or otherwise of these methods.

Corporate Governance

I completed my thesis on the finance of industry in Sheffield after the introduction of limited liability in 1855.Sheffield, along with Oldham, were the two leading towns in which firms adopted limited liability in any great number after the introduction of the most liberal company law in Europe. This has led to a continued interest in company ownership, company law, shareholding patterns and the general governance of corporations. Key themes include:

- Regional clusters of investors

- The role of company promoters

- Women investors

The development of nineteenth century banking

A total of 138 joint-stock banks were created in England and Wales between 1826 and 1844 following the 1826 Bank Act, prompted by the banking crisis of 1825/6, which allowed the formation of such institutions. This work examines these new financial institutions and their development through the nineteenth century. It was initiated in a joint project with Professor P.L. Cottrell, funded by the Leverhulme Trust during the 1990s.

The key theme of the research has been to discern the relationships between the managements, shareholders and customers of each bank in order assess whether these primarily local institutions had distinct constituencies. The research has developed to drawn comparisons with banking developments in nineteenth century New England, using the work of Naomi Lamoreaux, Insider Lending: Banks, Personal Connections, and Economic Development in Industrial New England (1996).It has also drawn comparison with the predecessors of joint-stock banks - private banking institutions - drawing upon the seminal work of Leslie Pressnell, Country Banking the Industrial Revolution (1956).

Manufacturing and Selling Household Goods in Britain (1851-1914)

This project is being undertaken with Francesca Carnevali (University of Birmingham). The aim is to assess the impact of growing consumer demand, and foreign competition, on the production, marketing and selling of household goods in Britain in the period from the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the First World War. During the second half of the nineteenth century British consumers were able to turn their homes into Aladdin's caves filled with a wondrous range of goods. Central to the process of both growing acquisition and production were rising real incomes, the application of steam powered machines and the division of labour to what for centuries had been crafts. For this period, however, this is not a story of lowering costs thanks to mass production, but instead of the re-combination of custom and batch methods of production (specialty production) together with technology. Central to specialty production was the relationship between producers and consumers as the making of custom and batch made goods had to contend with endlessly fluctuating and complex demand.

The combination of a growing, but still very segmented market, and of increasing competition meant that manufacturers had to innovate in terms of production, marketing and selling. The fashioning of style-goods for larger and larger sections of society allowed manufacturers to expand the size of their business but only if they were able to sustain a strong connection with consumers and their changing desires. Decisions about how to organise labour, structure firms, invest in machinery, and sales methods were powerfully dominated by how much producers understood about what their customers wanted. In this process, entrepreneurial activity played a central role. This research will show how these strategies induced a process of creative destruction, whereby old ways of making things changed and technology, labour, skills and capital were recombined. So far, we have taken the case study of pianos in order to investigate the themes of the broader project.

Outputs to date


Carnevali, F. and Newton, L. (2012 forthcoming), 'Pianos for the people: from producer to consumer, 1851-1914'. Enterprise and Society.

Scott, P. and Newton, L. (2012, forthcoming), 'Advertising, promotion, and the rise of a national building society movement in interwar Britain.' Business History (in press).

Newton, L. A. (2010) The birth of joint-stock banking: a comparison of England and New England in the nineteenth century. Business History Review, 84 (1). pp. 27-52. ISSN 2044-768X

Scott, P. and Newton, L. A. (2007) Jealous monopolists? British banks and responses to the Macmillan gap during the 1930s. Enterprise & Society, 8 (4). pp. 881-919. ISSN 1467-2235

Newton, L. and Cottrell, P. (2006) Female investors in the first English and Welsh commercial joint-stock banks. Accounting, Business & Financial History, 16 (2). pp. 315-340. ISSN 0958-5206

Newton, L. (1996). Regional bank-industry relations during the mid-nineteenth century: links between bankers and manufacturing in Sheffield. Business History, 38 (3), pp. 64-83. ISSN 0007-6791

Books/Book Chapters

Jones, G. and Newton, L. (2009) The decline and renewal of British multinational banking. In: Coopey, R. and Lyth, P. (eds.) Business in Britain in the twentieth century: decline and renaissance? Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 207-224. ISBN 9780199226009

Newton, L. (2009) British retail banking in the twentieth century: decline and renaissance in industrial lending. In: Coopey, R. and Lyth, P. (eds.) Business in Britain in the twentieth century: decline and renaissance? Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 189-206. ISBN 9780199226009

Newton, L. (2008) Capital networks in the Sheffield region, 1850-1885. In: Casson, M. and Della Giusta, M. (eds.) The Economics of Networks. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham. ISBN 9781847203656

Newton, L. and Cottrell, P.L. (2008) Female investors in the first English and Welsh commercial joint-stock banks. In: Laurence, A., Maltby, J. and Rutterford, J. (eds.) Women and their money, 1700-1950. Routledge, London, pp. 115-132. ISBN 9780415419765

Newton, L., Cottrell, P.L., Maltby, J. and Rutterford, J. (2008) Women and wealth: the nineteenth century in Great Britain. In: Laurence, A., Maltby, J. and Rutterford, J. (eds.) Woman and their money, 1700-1950. Routledge, London, pp. 86-94. ISBN 9780415419765

Newton, L. (2003) Government, the banks and indusrty in interwar Britian. In: Gourvish, T. (ed.) Business and politics in Europe, 1900-1970: essays in honour of Alice Teichova. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 145-170. ISBN 9780521823449

Newton, L. (2003) Capital networks in the Sheffield region, 1850-1885. In: Wilson, J.F. and Popp, A. (eds.) Industrial clusters and regional business networks in England, 1750-1970. Ashgate, Aldershot, pp. 130-154. ISBN 9780754607618

Colltrell, P. and Newton, L. (1999). Banking liberalisation in England and Wales, 1826-1857. In R. Tilly and R. Sylla (eds.), The State, financial systems and economic modernisation, Cambridge, pp. 75-117. ISBN 9780521591232

Kinsey, S. and Newton, L. (eds.), (1998). International banking in an age of transition. Ashgate, Aldershot. ISBN 9781859283844

Discussion Papers

Scott, P. and Newton, L. (2009) Advertising, promotion, and the rise of a national building society movement in interwar Britain. Discussion Paper. Henley Business School pp39. (Unpublished)

Newton, L. (2007) Change and continuity: the development of joint stock banking in the early nineteenth century. Discussion Papers in Management. 040/2007. Discussion Paper. University of Reading, Reading.

Galassi, F. and Newton, L. (2001) My word is my bond: reputation as collateral in nineteenth century English provincial banking, Warwick Economic Research papers, no. 599, University of Warwick,


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