British lenders approved the fewest mortgages in six months in August, figures showed on Friday, in a further sign of the slowdown in the property market as mortgage interest rates rise, but borrowing by consumers gathered some steam.

Bank of England data showed banks and building societies approved 45,354 mortgages for house purchase in August, down from 49,532 in July and broadly in line with economists' expectations in a Reuters poll.

However, net mortgage lending - which typically lags approvals by around a month - was the highest since January at 1.218 billion pounds ($1.49 billion), after an unusually weak 201 million-pound increase in July.

New unsecured lending to consumers jumped by 1.644 billion pounds ($2.01 billion) from the previous month after a 1.271 billion-pound rise in July, beating all forecasts in the Reuters poll.

The annual growth rate in unsecured borrowing increased to 7.6% in August from 7.3%, rising to its highest since April.

($1 = 0.8173 pounds) (Reporting by David Milliken Editing by William Schomberg)