NATIONWIDE Building Society is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the day it rebranded to become the well-known business used by millions of people today.

It used to go by the name of the Co-operative Permanent Building Society before changing its name on September 16, 1970.

Things have changed quite a lot over the last five decades. At the time of the re-brand, Nationwide had one million members but it has grown so much since then that it now has 15 million customers using its services around the country.

The property market of the 1970s was very different to how it is now. The Bank of England base rate was around seven per cent, mortgages offered rates of between 8.5 and 10.75 per cent, the average house price was just £4,452 and average earnings were £5,302 a year.

The world’s largest building society employs 12,211 people in Swindon from its Pipers Way headquarters or working remotely at home.

Although the town has the highest concentration of the group’s work force, it employs around 6,000 other staff in bank branches and call centres around the UK and administration centres in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline.

Head of historical archives Sara Kinsey said, “As a building society we have been serving our members for generations.

“This week we celebrate 50 years since we changed our name to Nationwide.

“The world has changed immensely since then but, despite those changes, we continue to do our best to support local communities right across the country, including here in Swindon.”

The company has been hit hard by the pandemic, with profits plunging by 40 per cent and it has taken a hit of more than £100 million during lockdown, although chief executive Joe Garner volunteered to take a 20 per cent pay cut to show solidarity with his workers and promised that no employees will need to leave due to compulsory redundancy in 2020.

It is one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, via the mobile app, on the telephone, internet and post.