Martins Bank 1928+

The Home Counties gain another Branch of Martins Bank in 1957 with the opening of an office in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. The staff of five will be expected to take on the opposition, and judging by the success of the Bank in the late 1950s, we expect it won’t have been long before “going to extremes to be helpful” became a way of life in this part of deepest Surrey.  

Later we shall learn about the “ribbed asbestos” (OUCH!) and other futuristic (but hopefully not so life threatening) innovations used in the construction and finish of this new Branch, thanks to an article which has been reproduced from the Architect and Building News, 1959.

Sadly the original print medium has aged to the point where it is now quite difficult to obtain a reasonable, detailed scan, but here is what is currently the only period image of the Branch exterior, and therefore of historical importance. The branch spans from the double doors on the right, across the three windows to the central pillar.

The interior images below come from Barclays’ own collection of Martins Bank photographs, and shows round blotches on the front of the counter – these are  not a fault in the photgraphic process – the counter  is fronted in “bird’s eye maple”, which along with the other features of Kingston upon Thames Branch are described in a visit to the branch in 1958 by Martins Bank Magazine.  

In Service: July 1957 until 25 April 1986

 Image © Architect and Building News and successors 9 December 1959


Further down the page, note how the Staff group photo looks like a police identity parade, thanks to the effect of the lined fencing behind!

We paid our first visit to our new branch at Kingston just over a year after it was  opened for business. Often when on our way to visit a new branch we wonder how different it will turn out to be from all the others we have visited, what fresh things we can say about it to try to conjure up for our readers a mental picture of it. Perhaps we had better start with the Manager on this occasion, for Mr. E. Parkinson has a somewhat unusual background.  A native of Barrow-in-Furness, he commenced his business career in the offices of the Middlesbrough Education Committee and after that had a spell with I.C.I. He then joined the staff of Lloyds Bank, serving with them for fifteen years. After war service, mainly in Burma and India, he decided to apply for a post advertised by the British Mutual Bank. His appli­cation was successful, but six months afterwards this bank was taken over by Martins Bank and as his job at Ludgate Circus became redundant, he was trans­ferred to Hanover Square as Assistant Manager, where he remained until he got the chance of opening the new branch at Kingston. Not many bank men can claim to have worked for three banks.

1957 Kingston Upon Thames interior 2 BGA Ref 30-1507

Image © Barclays Ref 0030/1507


The branch itself is in the new characteristic modern style, com­bining airiness, cheerful lighting and colour schemes with beauty in fittings. The bird's eye maple woodwork on the front of the counter attracts instant admiration, and impeccable good taste has been observed throughout. Somewhat ingenious use of space has been made in converting what could properly be described as a cubby hole into a little waiting room, and the Manager's room, though small, is adequate.  The branch is situated right opposite the impressive Guildhall. Kingston is a most varied and interesting town, with a history going back a thousand years, a reminder of which is enshrined in the Coronation Stone carefully preserved on the green diagonally opposite our branch, a few yards from which the photograph of the staff was taken. This is the traditional stone said to have been used at the crowning of at least seven Saxon kings.

The town grew up where it did because the River Thames was fordable at that point, and the bridge which succeeded the ford played a not unimportant part in the subsequent history of England, in 1452, 1472 and in 1554. Quite close to our branch are the two markets which, considering the essential untidiness of the average market, are about the best we have seen.

Their picturesque appearance, each stall with a tiled roof of a different hue, is ample compensation for the inconsequential chaos which is inseparable from a market. Indeed, when mention is made that one of them recently provided a satisfactory setting for a film company on location, the attractiveness of their appearance needs no further stressing.

Cheek by jowl with this somewhat old-world atmosphere lie a number of good shops, such as Liberty's of Regent Street, and the whole town is ringed and honeycombed with light engineering industry of every description.

There is the Hawker-Siddeley aircraft factory, the camera manu­facturing works of Micro Precision Products Ltd., an old-established tannery, a scent manu­facturing firm and, curiously enough, the largest winery in Europe, covering seven acres and being one of the world's largest wine producers.


Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

There are two nearby trading estates and a bewildering variety of industry flourishes, from stainless steel containers to cellulose products.


1957 Kingston Upon Thames interior 1 BGA Ref 30-1507 

Branch Images © Barclays Ref 0030/1507

1957 Kingston Upon Thames interior 1 BGA Ref 30-1507

Because of its situation and the absence of any nearby town quite like it, the markets and shops attract a huge daily influx of people and the normal population of 40,000 swells during the day to a quarter of a million. Then there is the river, lined with planned riverside walks and gardens, very beautifully arranged and maintained. Most Thames-side towns are attractive and Kingston has not been backward in making its own stretch of the river as nice as possible. The present normal staff of the branch is four, but at the time of our visit, there were five, because of the presence of A. C. Fleming, a District Office trainee. The second man is R. Moore who entered the Bank in 1938 and, apart from war service, 1941-46, has been at Lombard Street until Kingston branch was opened. R. N. Ibbotson was attending a Domestic Training Course at the time of our visit and so he is not on the photograph and we did not have the pleasure of meeting him.

His place was being taken by A. S. Taylor of the District Office Relief Staff. The young lady who very efficiently represents the female staff of the Bank is Miss J. Coxen. She entered the Bank at 68, Lombard Street and after a short period of training,went to Kingston. And if readers want to know what a left-handed Grasshopper looks like there is one on the rectangular brass handle of the left half of the front door. Another Grasshopper, facing the conventional way, appears on the other handle and the two face each other head-on when the doors are closed. Not the least of the pleasures of the day was meeting Mrs. Parkinson at lunch. She takes a lively and keen interest in the progress of the new branch and is obviously very proud of it.

This is one of the very first cheques to be issued for use at Kingston upon

Thames Branch, the stamp duty mark is dated July 1957.

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

“After dark, the Bank must not look dull”…

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 Article and images © Architect and Building News and successors 9 December 1959

This project consisted of an office building to be let, with the bank as tenant on the ground floor. A lift was added at a later stage, and some modifications were made to the design. The clients for the bank were anxious that after closing hours it should not look too dull among the adjacent brightly lighted shops and that the facade should not look too "flat". With these two points in mind, the windows were carried up to the ceiling and the ceiling itself was built up of ribbed asbestos in various planes, giving a saw-tooth section. 

Specially designed ranges of lights in brass were incorporated as an integral part of the design. The ceiling thus became an attractive feature as seen from outside.  A canopy, finished underneath in ceramic mosaic, was designed to give separation between the bank and the offices above.


The Grasshopper is etched into the door handles


A marble stall-riser was made in facetted slabs and the en­trance doors in American black walnut, boldly moulded with specially designed brass pushes with the firm's grasshopper engraved in black.  When open, the doors form the side walls to the entrance lobby. The front, including the hanging glass name board, is illuminated by a cold cathode tube built into the back of the teak fascia.

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Interior Design

The interior consists of a banking hall with accommodation for seven clerks and four cashiers, manager's room and waiting room, office space, lavatories, etc. Decoration is intended to strike a somewhat lighter note than is normally associated with banks. The counter has no grille; the walls are panelled very simply in wych elm; there is comfortably arranged writing space; the colours are white (high ceiling), pale blue (low ceiling), grey and red (lino on floor), with a red leather writing table.


Ground Floor Plan

First Floor Plan

1957 to 1961 and then 1964 to 1969 Mr R Moore Manager MBM-Sp64P06.jpg

1957 to 1964 Mr E Parkinson Manager MBM-Sp64P07.jpg

1958 Miss J Coxen MBM-Wi58P44.jpg

1958 Mr A C Fleming MBM-Wi58P44.jpg

1961 to 1963 later 1969 Mr S C C White Manager MBM-Sp69P07.jpg

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Mr R Moore

Branch Second 1957-61

Manager 1964-69

Mr E Parkinson


1957 to 1964

Miss J Coxon

On the Staff


Mr A C Fleming

On the Staff


Mr A S Taylor

On the Staff


Mr S C C White

Branch Second 1961-63

Manager 1969 onwards

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1963 to 1967 Mr N R Leigh pro Manager MBM-Sp67P06.jpg

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Mr N R Leigh

Pro Manager

1963 to 1967








Main Branch


Trustee Department

London Road


Main Branch


Main Branch










4 High Street


Market Place


Castle Street



Main Branch










147 London Road


Market Place

Trustee and income Tax






Index Number and District:






Martins Bank Limited 11-19-50 Kingston Upon Thames

Full Branch

4 High Street Kingston upon Thames

475 London

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

01 546 2039/6261

Nightsafe Installed

Mr S C C White Manager

King’s Lynn

July 1957

15 December 1969

25 April 1986

Opened by Martins Bank Limited

Barclays Bank Ltd 20-46-75 Kingston upon Thames High St


Kirkby in Furness


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