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Martins Bank 1928+

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1964R.jpgPerhaps it would be churlish to complain, sometimes the old simply has to make way for the new, and if there is a plus side, perhaps it is that on the inside at least, Martins Bank’s new Branch at No 6 Hanover Square does promise the brightest and most spacious surroundings in which to transact business.  If the idea is to attract young professionals and what are referred to as “modern marrieds” to open bank accounts and deposit their salaries, this design might just do it…

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Image © Barclays Ref 0033/0256

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1964 London Hanover Square interior 1 BGA Ref 33-256

Image © Barclays Ref 33-256

It does, however seem to be that little bit futuristic for 1964, a kind of warning shot across the bows that all in the world of architecture is not at peace with itself.  Yet in Post-War britain, where slums were still being cleared nearly two decades after the end of hostilities, such a vision of concrete, glass and metal must have seemed so appealing to almost everyone tired of dark wood and forbidding stone. Some might have foreseen today’s backlash against all that is square, rectangular, box-like, dead behind the eyes and so on, but at the time, Architects were the new gods, first drawing, then building tomorrow as if it was a kind of conjuring trick. The Bank’s building at 5 Hanover Square, although attractive, was extremely sick and in dire need of attention, but just what were the events that made moving to premises situated only next door so fraught with diffulty and danger?  Read on, as this article from Martins Bank Magazine’s Winter 1964 Edition shows us all how to achieve:

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Some lively steps in the Hanover Square Dance…

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Let's all move one place on1964 04in recent years there has been a noticeable increase in the number of Head Office circulars advising new addresses for existing branches and, whether the changes are due to progress, expan­sion, modernisation, or town-planning, the transfer from the old office to the new, apart from petty annoyances, is usually effected without undue trouble.  A move to new premises next door would, naturally, seem the easiest to accomplish for one merely has to continue until the new premises are ready when, in a week-end, cash, cabinets, securities—well, many of us have been through it and there is no point dwelling on it. Hanover Square branch in London should have provided just such a simple example, for Number 5 (the old office) is next door to Number 6 (the new). Perhaps you remember altering the number in the branch address book in October? But did you know that some six months earlier No 5 made a determined attempt at moving into No 6? No? Well this is the story.    Early this year No 6 had, as the photograph shows, become a hole in the ground with the flank of No 5 supported by a network of steel tubing. The staff at No 5 were, however, becom­ing suspicious that cracks appearing in the plaster were tending to widen and so 'tell-tale' strips had been stuck across these to see if this really was so.

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1964 London 5 Hanover Square during relocation to No 6 MBM-Wi64P26.jpgOne morning some mortar fell precariously near Mr E. G. Vodden, the branch messenger, as he entered the front door. Looking up he saw large cracks in the front wall which appeared to be bulging more than might be expected even of a building about 200 years old. Later in the morning a member of the staff was fascinated to see a fresh crack appear in the office wall and creep steadily upwards before his eyes. Premises Department were notified, the architect appeared, took one look and gave the order to evacuate.  A suggestion that the office should remain open until 3 o'clock met with the response 'Never mind 3 o'clock—I mean now!', and he would not be responsible for the safety of anybody who elected to stay. It was 1.15 p.m. A phone call to District Office enabled the qualifications to speak in unqualified terms and gain Authority's immediate response. Fortunately Oxford Circus branch is less than 5 minutes' walk away and everybody there edged up to make room for the Hanover Square staff whose Manager, Mr John Wilson, seized and took to lunch the customer who had waited and watched with such tolerance and fascination as the drama unfolded. 

 

1964 London 5 Hanover Square Entrace during relocation to No 6 MBM-Wi64P26.jpgSenior colleagues and staff-acted with such speed and efficiency that on Mr Wilson's return he found on the front door a most unusual notice requiring callers to go to Oxford Circus branch where temporary counter service was Available.  Also outside were a group of workmen who announced with unconcealed delight 'They've gone. Guv!' The afternoon was spent in discussions with the Bank's Surveyors, District Surveyors, Site Foremen and representatives from Premises Department.  All-night work was arranged so that the branch could re-open in the morning. Mercifully the Inspectors did not show up for a cash count for they would have discovered everything bundled away, unbalanced.  The staff worked with great good humour in their temporary quarters and the customers reacted splendidly, even the one who was told he couldn't have his box from the strongroom that day!  Following a mass inspection by building experts next morning through the entire six floors of No5, it was decided that the now heavily buttressed branch could safely be re-opened and at 10 o'clock the assembled staff were detailed to return to Oxford Circus and bring back the vouchers, ledgers, etc. As the front door opened, a customer, waiting patiently to enter, was astounded to see some fifteen members of the staff troop out in procession and imagined he was witnessing an unheard-of phenomenon—a walk-out of bank staff. That might have been the end of the story but, as the new premises grew alongside, the upper floors of the old building, which were not part of our office, were demolished.

 

They included a chimney stack. When the typists entered their first-floor 1964 London 6 Hanover Square under construction MBM-Wi64P27.jpgroom one morning they encountered a choking, gritty smog. Nobody outside had thought to advise those inside to seal off the fireplace.   We heard of this when we called at No 5 in October, to meet Mr Wilson and his staff.  He opened the curtains across the window in his room to reveal long panes of glass which looked as if nasty little boys had been slopping nasty things about—the result of a spilt barrow-load of cement cascading into the narrow well between the buildings.  We went with him all over that fated, impatient building and saw for ourselves the cracked panes where careless scaffolding poles and other secret weapons had forced entry for the rain. We saw the ceilings on the first floor with their stained, cracked and peeling plaster, and one section with no plaster at all. For a temporary roof surface had to be laid when the floors above were removed but, of course, the weather beat the workmen to it. Also, about that time, a gully in the well became choked with rubble so that, in a prolonged downpour, the water level rose higher and higher until it eventually found a crack and poured into the basement just at the start of a day. A hurriedly-mustered squad from the adjoining site spent the morning sweeping water resolutely towards a toilet drain in an adjoining room and kept it away from the strongroom. Then in the basement we saw four 7-foot-high built-in, wooden stationery cupboards. A hose­pipe left running one week-end on the site next  door caused a healthy build-up of water in these cupboards, the full extent of which was only discovered on the opening of a door.

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1964London Hanover Square Staff MBM-Wi64P28.jpg

Back row

 

J G Buckley A S Potts P R Punter

F C Rouse  K Hatch J Churchland

D Coord C Brett

 

Front row

 

P A Cawsey (Pro Manager) E L Ridley

Miss H Clarke Miss J Parker

Miss B Davis Mrs S A Inwood Miss J Moss Miss F Merriman

Mrs K Beaumont R Newson P R Mercier

 

In front of counter

 

J Wilson (Manager) Miss M Roberts

N B Bill (Assistant Manager)

E C  Vodden (Messenger)

Miss M P Harper

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Is it surprising that No 5 is suspected of having developed almost human frailties; that it is fed up and wants the people out so that it can be rebuilt and take its place among London's modem buildings? In the first-floor machine room, overlooking the square itself, many of the staff must have wished for a chance to work temporarily in a marquee out there under the trees rather than in that crowded room with its ominous cracks extending from floor level and disappearing, at a height of three feet and with heaven knows what diabolical intent, behind the acoustic tiles reaching to the lofty ceiling. But even on the ground floor, a crack up the wall at the back of a pillar, into which we fitted a notebook without touching anything solid, was pointed out to us as a matter of passing interest. Talking to the staff it was impossible to tell who had been there throughout and who had arrived since the trouble started. There were plenty of laughs but no symptoms, no nervous twitches. A sense of humour is a wonderful antidote. And there is a touch of irony in all this for much of the business at Hanover Square branch concerns Property!

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2014 January 7 and 8 Hanover Square Exterior CU Dave Baldwin - MBA.jpgThe SECOND Hanover Square Dance? ( or “5,6,7,8!”)

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We are used to some of our branches having more than one location in a particular town or City.  The story above of the “Hanover Square Dance” is a little more unusual, as the branch moves just one place along the street.  This is however, not enough for this part of London, and under Barclays’ ownership, and more redevelopment of the area, what was first No 5, then No 6 Hanover Square, has now become No 7 AND No 8 – almost perfect beat counting for a square dance!  This image taken in January 2014 by Dave Baldwin shows the modern branch and just for fun we have added the images of the two Martins Branches in numerical order…

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5 6 7 and 8 Hanover Square

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A long, slow march…

From the right, quick march: The original Martins Branch at Number 5 is abandoned for the safety of the newly constructed Number 6. Under Barclays, the business has outgrown the building, and expansion into Numbers 7 is therefore necessary…

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1961 to 1961 Mr C C Willis MBM-Au67P04.jpg

1962 to 1966 Mr FC Rouse Ltd Auth then pro Manager MBM-Sp66P07.jpg

1964 to 1965 Mr PA Cawsey Pro Manager MBM-Su65P06.jpg

BW Logo

BW Logo

BW Logo

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Mr C C Willis

On the Staff  1961onwards

Asst Manager 1969

Mr F C Rouse

Limited Auth/Pro Manager

1962 to 1966

Mr P A Cawsey

Pro Manager

1964 to 1965

 

 

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Title:

Type:

Address:

Index Number and District:

Hours:

 

Telephone:

Services:

Manager:

11-32-40 London, Hanover Square

Full Branch

6 Hanover Square London W1

420 London

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

01 629 6333

Nightsafe Installed

Mr J Wilson Manager

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Automated Branch

Hanover Square is included in Martins’ London Account Number Allocation, where Branches due for automation are given “significant  digits” to identify them by account numbers issued at the London Computer Centre. The Branch Customer Accounts will be identified by the significant digits 54 and 55.

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1928

1964

15 December 1969

4 April 1977

Currently

opened by Martins Bank at 5 Hanover Square

Moved to 6 Hanover Square

Barclays Bank Limited 20-36-48 Hanover Square

Closed and moved to Nos 7 and 8 Hanover Square*

Office Accommodation

*Nos 7 & 8 Closed 13 June 2014

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