How we began
In 1861, a group of astute investors saw the business possibilities in leasing wagons to local railway companies, collieries and quarries. The North Central Wagon Co was established, marking the birth of hire purchase.
The company began leasing wagons to the coal industry to the value of £105,000 – worth over £7m today. By 1900, nearly 25,000 railway wagons were available for hire and they began to finance road transport too, as demand for vehicles grew.
In 1928, Prudential Assurance Co and the financier Connop Guthrie bought the company, seeing huge potential. Guthrie – a brilliant entrepreneur and innovator – transformed the business, starting a period of dramatic growth. When the railways were nationalised, the company began financing cars and consumer durables, contributing to the rebuilding of Britain's industries in the aftermath of the Second World War.
Rapid growth in the 20th century
Bought out by the National Provincial Bank in 1958, the company expanded quickly. By the time we celebrated our centenary in 1961, we became the oldest surviving hire purchase company in the world.
In 1968, we became a subsidiary of the new National Westminster Bank. The company pioneered the leasing of machinery and assets to businesses, enabling companies to modernise and expand. Three years later, Lombard North Central was formed and we launched our first logo: a diamond-shaped lump of coal and the letter L.
In the 1980s, asset-based financing for business grew dramatically. We started to specialise in tailoring and negotiating facilities for major companies, providing combined leasing of industrial buildings, plant and machinery. The 80s also saw our motor financing develop as links were built with major manufacturers and dealers.
Always ahead of the game, we began leasing new technology to companies as early as 1986, a venture which is now known as Lombard Technology Services. The company came out of the recession in the early 90s making record profits, and was described by the Financial Times as 'an outstanding bright spot in the banking industry'.
In 1995 we changed our corporate identity, adopting the simple title of Lombard. Lombard Corporate Finance was created, developing new leasing products for sectors such as films, aviation, maritime, technology and private finance. We later secured our biggest deal to date, winning a bid to finance the purchase of trains for Virgin Rail worth over £395 million.
The next chapter
Acquired by Royal Bank of Scotland in the year 2000, two of RBS's subsidiaries, RoyScot Trust and Royal Bank Leasing, were merged with Lombard to create a new force in asset finance.
In the new millennium, we strode purposefully ahead, with the same emphasis on entrepreneurial success as always – and we've grown to be the UK's leading provider of asset finance.