Francis Ravenscroft – founder of Birkbeck Land and Building Society and Birkbeck Bank 

To commemorate the College’s bicentenary in 2023, we’re showcasing 200 ‘Birkbeck Effects’ which capture the incredible stories of our vibrant and diverse community, highlighting their achievements and impact on the world. 

Francis Ravenscroft

The Birkbeck Land and Building Society and Birkbeck Bank were the creations of Francis Ravenscroft, who studied at Birkbeck in 1848 and a year later, went on to become a Governor. 

Today, Ravenscroft is known for the company ‘Ede and Ravenscroft, thought to be the oldest tailors in the world and whose robes Birkbeck students still wear at graduations.  

Ravenscroft was inspired by his father’s passionate belief in education and helping others to further themselves and personally guaranteed the cost of developing new premises for Birkbeck where he was Governor for half a century. He also served on the institution’s management committee for many years. 

Ravenscroft helped reverse the fortunes of the Mechanics Institute, which had not recovered from the death of George Birkbeck in 1841 and the bank became the largest of its kind in the country, offering services to the working and middle classes. Under Ravenscroft, both the bank and building society flourished.


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