11 Narrowgate

The Savings Bank was founded in 1816 in a small house in Narrowgate. In 1835 they bought an old house with frontage onto Narrowgate and Fenkle Street, pulled it down and replaced it with an ornamental building . Designed in 1855 by William Smith, and costing £2,000, it is in a style that has been described as “playful gothick”(Historic England), or as “one of those expensive attempts… which did so much to bring Gothic Architecture into disrepute” (Alnwick Mercury, 1 April 1862)

It was sold in 1851 when the bank moved to St Michael’s lane. The building became a butcher’s shop.

Later it was a barbers, owned by Robert Hunter. He reputably kept a bear in the basement.

Bear’s grease was a popular treatment for men with hair loss, based on a belief that as bears are very hairy, their fat would assist hair growth in others. The men of Alnwick were encouraged to avail themselves of the opportunity to purchase.

Since the barber’s time the building has housed a variety of shops, including Dryden’s and Frankie Scott’s butchers’ shops, a shoe shop, and
Caris Clockmaker.

The Bear and Bank House gets its name from the building’s use as a bank and the link with the barber’s bear.