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Martins Bank 1928+

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Coventry High Street originally proved to be somewhat elusive where our search for period photographs of the Branch was concerned, and in all available images there only ever seems to be just a little bit of the building showing!

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Whilst beautifully atmospheric, and a fantastic historical record, it would seem that what you can see of the branch in the this photgraph is about as good as it gets! Not to worry, we are able to get to work on the history of the branch, which includes a very near miss during World War II…

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Spirit of the blitz…

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Image © Barclays Ref 0030/0725

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When Martins Bank’s branch at High Street Coventry opened in 1938, no-one could have guessed that only three years later such terrible devastation would befall the City, and wreak such life-changing havoc.  We have no record of a visit to the branch by Martins Bank Magazine, but we do have some dramatic images from 1941.Those of us not there at the time can only try to imagine the sheer terror of the blitz, and the curious almost surreal feeling of arriving at work to find the building next door reduced to a smouldering pile. Our thanks to our friends at www.historiccoventry.co.uk for providing many of the images on this page, which begin with a view of what came before Martins Bank opened its Branch at No 2 High Street…

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1900 s  Atkins & Turton Coffee Shop before branch - Historic Coventry MBA.jpg

1939 High Street exterior from Postcard - Historic Coventry MBA.jpg

Images Courtesy -  www.historiccoventry.co.uk

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In the gentle days of the early 1900s, the building is actually Atkins and Turton’s Coffee House. The cups are washed up for the final time in 1937, at which point Martins Bank moves into town and orders Australian Walnut, stone fascias, special roof tiles, and no end of other materials to turn 2 High Street into a traditional looking Branch of the Bank. The work is to take almost a year to complete, and in the meantime Martins Bank’s Coventry address is 12 Broadgate which opens for business on 18 May 1937.  Ten months later on 28 March 1938, the High Street premises are opened and this feature appears in the local newspaper, the Coventry Evening Telegraph: 

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{After having occupied  temporary premises in Broadgate since last May, Martins Bank Ltd., transferred today to their new quarters at the corner of High Street and Pepper Lane. The new building which is one of five storeys, is of Georgian character. The ground floor comprises the banking hall, manager’s room, waiting room, and typist’s rooms, and the first second and third floors consist of offices which will be available for the use of tenants.

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{ Finished in stone up to the first floor level, and above this in “Bedford Grey” facing bricks, the exterior presents an imposing appearance. The fourth floor level is surmounted by a cornice, and above the cornice, the fourth storey is partly in the roof, which is of Mansard shape and covered with hand made roofing tiles of Italian pattern. the windows and entrance door to the banking hall are in teak.

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{ The interior walls of the banking hall are faced with figured Australian walnut, having slightly projected palasters and recessed panels. Australian walnut has also been used for the counter and desk fittings, which have been panelled to match the walls. Shadowless lighting is another attractive feature. The basement houses an up-to-date strongroom. The local branch is under the management of Mr. N. Renison, who has been in charge at the temporary premises in Broadgate. A native of Wallasey, Mr Renison was manager of the Clubmoor branch of Martins Bank Ltd., for four years before coming to Coventry last year.}

COVENTRY EVENING TELEGRAPH Monday 28 March 1938

Image © Trinity Mirror created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive 

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Martins obviously wants a building that will be both attractive and permanent, and one which will instill a sense of tradition and security into the minds of prospective customers.  As we shall see below, despite Mr Hitler’s best efforts, Martins Bank is still able to proudly raise high the Union Flag the morning after one of Coventry’s worst air raids of the Second World War…

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Image Courtesy -  www.historiccoventry.co.uk

Image © IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM Ref H-5598 under licence

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The devastation and loss of life in the City of Coventry, will never be forgotton, and Martins Bank is indeed fortunate to remain standing after the sheer terror and mayhem of the bombing.  The entire building next door to the bank is wiped away by the Blitz, as the union flag flies defiantly above the front door of the Bank. We are also grateful to our friend Mike Parker for this newspaper clipping, showing soldiers next to the Branch shortly after the bombing. Whilst we will always remember the bravery of those who fought in the Second World War, it is sometimes easy to forget those in the line of fire who were simply going about their daily lives and work routines to keep the country going.  Whilst many of the male members of Martins staff were called up to serve their country, hundreds of women took their places in Martins Bank’s branches and kept the bank running smoothly and efficiently during World War II.  You can read more about the bravery of Martins Staff, and the Bank’s special wartime arrangements, including female managers, in our MARTINS AT WAR feature pages.  After the war, the Bank’s presence in Coventry grows, and following the opening of Warwick Road as the new main office in 1966, High Street becomes a sub branch.  In the same year a second sub branch at Cheylesmore is also opened.  All three branches will survive the merger with Barclays in 1969.  As Warwick Road opened so late in the history of Martins, we will display the main Coventry Staff Gallery below.

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1937 to 1946 Mr E Newhouse Branch Second MBM-Su62P31.jpg

1937 to 1959 Mr N Renison Manager MBM-Su59P55.jpg

1940 to 1941 Mr R Ingham MBM-Su65P03.jpg

1953 to 1957 Mr CB Heaton MBM-Wi65P05.jpg

1953 to 1960 Mr R H Naylor MBM-Wi67P04.jpg

1954 to 1956 Mr E J Blunsom MBM-Su57P13.jpg

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Mr E Newhouse

Branch Second

1937 to 1946

Mr N Renison

Manager

1937 to 1959

Mr R Ingham

On the Staff

1940 to 1941

Mr C B Heaton

On the Staff

1953 to 1957

Mr R H Naylor

On the Staff

1953 to 1960

Mr E J Blunsom

On the Staff

1954 to 1956

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1954 to 1958 Mr E M Sansome and 1961 to 1964 MBM-Su60P37.jpg

1955 to 1960 Mr J T Evans MBM-Wi66P05.jpg

1959 to 1963 M Hollway Manager MBM-Su68P12.jpg

1960 to 1963 Mr M A Caughey MBM-Wi64P47.jpg

1962 to 1966 Mr GT Greenfield Assistant Manager from 1966 MBM-Su66P05.jpg

1965 Mr A A Tracy MBM-Su60P39.jpg

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Mr E M Sansome

On Staff 1954 to 1958

and 1961 to 1964

Mr J T Evans

On the Staff

1955 to 1960

Mr M Hollway

Manager

1959 to 1963

Mr M A Caughey

On the Staff

1960 to 1963

Mr G T Greenfield

Assistant Manager

1962 to 1966

Mr A A Tracy

On the Staff

1965

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1966 Mr C F Wells MBM-Wi65P46.jpg

1966 Mr W Marley MBM-Au65P12.jpg

BW Logo

BW Logo

BW Logo

BW Logo

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Mr C F Wells

On the Staff

1966

Mr W Marley

On the Staff

1966

 

 

 

 

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Title:

Type:

Address:

Index Number and District:

Hours:

 

Telephone:

Services:

Manager:

11-14-30 Coventry High Street

Originally a Full Branch 

Sub to 11-14-30 Coventry Warwick Road from 1966

2 High Street Coventry CV1 2EQ Warwickshire

593 Midland

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

Coventry 23151/2

Nightsafe Installed

Mr K S Peal Manager

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28 March 1938

21 March 1966

12 December 1969

Currently

Opened by Martins Bank Limited

Downgraded to a Sub Branch to Warwick Road

Closed

Surveyors’ Practice

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