Tag Archives: Woolwich Building Society

Grays Building Society

Building societies are nice fluffy, trustworthy places, aren’t they? Well, they seem to be today – with the likes of Nationwide being ‘on our side’ and preaching that they are a bank without ‘the bank’. I like Nationwide though – our mortgage is with them – and it’s hard to beat. But this blog isn’t really about the Nationwide.

Again, the advert below is from the July 1967 Essex Countryside. I was going to moan about the £7’8’11% thing again – and the ‘free of income tax’ bit – rather like I’ve done with some other building societies. I didn’t think there’d be much more of interest – especially not for boring old Grays. But as ever, before writing the blog, I’ve done some Googling – and I am impressed with the scandal I’ve uncovered. Read on…

Grays Building Society
Grays Building Society

It seems that for over 40 years, the chairman and secretary of ‘The Grays’ – a Mr Harold Percy Jaggard, had been defrauding the society of funds – which had been spent on women and racing. He’d got away with it until a routine audit in 1978 suddenly started to unravel his malpractice. On the day of the audit, he told his staff he was going out, and would return after 20 minutes. He never returned. He was found dead in his bath, having left his wife a suicide note which said “Do not go to the bathroom alone. For 40 years I have tried to put somebody else’s misdeeds right and I can take no more…”.

What Jaggard actually did was to take advantage of his staff’s general lack of understanding of financial processes. He amended books following staff reconciliation, and also banked large mortgage cheques, ensuring that although the society was not receiving the money, the mortgagee was not out of pocket, and the mortgage was marked as redeemed. You can read more about Harold here.

Although New Road, where the Grays was situated, is practically demolished and rebuilt nowadays, with mainly Thurrock council’s offices on the north side, and just two premises on the south side, it seems that the old Grays Building Society building still exists. You can see it here…along with a delightful local giving the Google camera ‘the finger’.

For reference, following the scandal, the Grays Building Society was taken over by the Woolwich Building Society. Which has since been acquired by Barclays Bank. Thus any old Grays Building Society accounts that have never been closed will reside with Barclays Bank.

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