As Commonwealth Bank’s Hobart head office moves to a new dockside location, local staff reflect on more than a century of supporting Tasmania and the nation.

Bankers this week bid a fond farewell to the 81 Elizabeth Street offices in Hobart CBD, long known to Tasmanians as the Commonwealth Bank building, as they move across to new offices at 1 Franklin Wharf.

“Our commitment to Tasmania runs deep. Across the bank, we’ve lent more than $1 billion to the Tasmanian economy over the past 12 months, supporting customers right across the spectrum from home owners and small business owners to manufacturers and franchisees, to regional and agri-businesses all the way to institutional and government clients,” said Mike Vacy Lyle, Group Executive Business Banking at Commonwealth Bank.

“We’ve now invested in a new office that’s bigger, more modern, and provides a much better experience for our customers and our staff,” Mr Vacy-Lyle said.

The move to 1 Franklin Wharf follows ongoing investment in the growth of CBA’s Business Banking division across Tasmania, which has resulted in the team expanding by 15 per cent in the Regional and Agribusiness team alone over the past two years.

The bank’s history in Tasmania goes back all the way to 3 January 1913, when the newly established Commonwealth Bank of Australia opened its second-ever branch in the nation — at Macquarie Street, Hobart. This added to 147 agencies through the post office network across the state.

Over the next three decades, the Bank’s Tasmanian headquarters would shift to different locations across Hobart, with CommBank purchasing two adjoining lots near the corner of Elizabeth and Liverpool Streets in 1945 with plans to build a dedicated head office.

Obtaining vacant possession was a challenge, as was architectural planning, but eventually construction began in 1949. Labour and material shortages, as well as sourcing from suppliers all over the world, contributed to the delays – which resulted in Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visiting an incomplete 81 Elizabeth Street during the royal tour of Tasmania in February 1954.

Construction of Commonwealth Bank building, 81 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Construction of Commonwealth Bank building, 81 Elizabeth Street, Hobart

Construction was finally completed on 27 September 1954, when the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, Dr H.C. Nugget Coombs, opened the premises.

Commonwealth Bank, 81 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Officially Opened: 27 September 1954 Commonwealth Bank, 81 Elizabeth Street, Hobart officially opened: 27 September 1954

In recent years, as the financial centre of town grew within the retail and entertainment hub, segments of the bank’s Hobart staff began to peel off into new fit-for-purpose locations.

This week, the bank’s business and institutional teams are celebrating their move to Level 4 of 1 Franklin Wharf  – the last teams to transition out of the former Commonwealth Bank building. CommBank’s new offices are a short walk to the Hobart CBD sitting proudly alongside Constitution Dock.

Commonwealth Bank, 1 Franklin Wharf, Hobart, April 2022 Commonwealth Bank, 1 Franklin Wharf, Hobart, April 2022

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