URGENT calls are being made for a banking hub to be created in Whitehaven following the closure of another high street bank.

TSB on Lowther Street in Whitehaven is one of 36 branches earmarked for closure by the banking giant. The branch will close on September 4.

It is one of a number of banks to leave the town after Halifax closed its King Street branch in March. NatWest, HSBC and Barclays have also closed branches in Whitehaven.

TSB said its closures were due to fewer people visiting its branches, with a ‘clear shift towards digital banking’.

Community leaders and business owners are concerned about the impact it will have on the high street and fear it is part of a move towards a ‘cashless society’.

Luke Johnston, one of the owners of The Pour House on Lowther Street, said: “We bank with TSB. I’ve had my personal account with them for about 15 years since I started secondary school.

“I also have a number of business accounts with them for the several businesses I own.

“The staff inside are brilliant, always happy to help, always smiling.

“I have never had a problem with the branch and it’s such a shame it’s closing.

“I visit every week to pay money in and collect change. It will be a huge miss for me as a young person but also for some of the older generation who don’t have the internet and smart phones so they can’t use the online services.

“I know Maryport got one of those banking hubs so let’s hope we get the same.”

Gerard Richardson MBE, who runs Richardson’s of Whitehaven on Lowther Street, said: “The writing has been on the wall for so long that bank closures no longer surprise me.

“I’m more disappointed for the staff as they are a good bunch in there and it must be devastating for them.

“On a positive note, the building is so attractive, I can’t see it being empty for too long and to be honest, it would make the most prestigious small office in the area, although if I had a magic wand, I’d love to see it converted into a high street gallery or small exhibition space, something to keep bringing people to the high street.”

Chris Hayes, mayor of Whitehaven, said: “It’s a nightmare. Where do people go to bank? A lot of older people don’t have internet banking. The cash machines are starting to dwindle.

Whitehaven News: Chris Hayes, mayor of Whitehaven has voiced concerns over the closure of TSB on Lowther StreetChris Hayes, mayor of Whitehaven has voiced concerns over the closure of TSB on Lowther Street (Image: Newsquest)

“This cashless society is going to kill this town. It’s very sad. It’s a beautiful building, as well.”

Brian O’Kane, who represents Whitehaven Central North on the town council, said: “We have got to make sure that we have got a banking hub in the town as soon as possible. It’s going to be an urgent issue now.

“It’s indicative of that the banks have decided to be part of the movement to get rid of cash.”

A TSB spokesperson said: “We have not taken the decision to close our Whitehaven branch lightly, but our customers are banking differently – with a clear shift to digital banking.

"We recognise that there will be some customers in Whitehaven who still want a face-to-face service from TSB.

"To help these customers we will open a new TSB Pod where customers will be able to access banking and cash services. The service will be based in a large retail development in nearby Workington."

TSB said customer transactions at the branch had fallen by 54 per cent between December 2019 and December 2023.