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Martins Bank 1928+

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From rags to (third) Reichs?

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We love the many “firsts” for which Martins Bank has been responsible, whether it is the computerisation of accounts, a Head Office outside London, or a cash machine that uses plastic cards and four digit PINs.  Having two drive-in branches, a cross-channel bank and a door to door by car banking service on Lindisfarne all add to Martins’ long list of proud achievements. But to say that Adolf Hitler might have been responsible for the Bank opening a Branch in Leamington Spa?  Surely not!  The Bank sets up shop in this peaceful Midlands setting towards the end of 1951, and advertisements are taken out in the local press to announce the arrival of the new office.  Sadly we do not have any exterior images of the branch, but there are two interiors on this page from the Barclays collection of Martins Bank Branch Photographs.  So what of the connection with the perpetrator of the Second World War? Martins Bank Magazine, on a visit to Leamington Spa in 1954, explains more about this somewhat tasteless and extremely tenuous link with the third Reich, and Mr Hitler’s part in Martins Bank’s expansion plans….

In Service: 5 November 1951 until 11 December 1970

1951 Leamington Spa interior 1 BGA Ref 30-1560

Image © Barclays Ref 0030/1560

Advertisements re-mastered by Martins Bank Archive 4 June 2018

Images © Martins Bank Archive Collections

1954 03 MBM.jpgIt would not be a complete exaggeration to say that the late Adolf Hitler paved the way for the entry of Martins Bank into Leaming­ton Spa. At any rate, the solitary stick of bombs which fell like a whiplash across the magnificent Parade, surely one of the finest streets to be found in any provincial town, carved a space in the building line into which our new branch was built so effectively, in such complete architectural harmony with the buildings on either side, that the new edifice is now scheduled as one of the architecturally notable buildings of the town.The character of this fine old town has gradually changed.  It began with the destruction of the Centre of Coventry in the first saturation air attack of the Second World War. Bombed out industries found a new home in Leamington, which is only nine miles away, and some of them stayed and prospered, especially a big aircraft factory employing several thousands of work­people. As a result the popularity of the place as a Spa began to decline and although the Pump Room, with its impressive facade and lovely flower beds, still bears witness to the presence of those healing waters which in another age brought the old and the ailing to seek relief and, incidentally brought prosperity to the place, the emphasis nowadays is less on its reputation as a watering place and more on heavy industry.

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1951 Leamington Spa interior 2 BGA Ref 30-1560

Image © Barclays Ref 0030/1560

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Very sharp indeed is the contrast between the Spa and the older portion of the town. From the beautiful Parade one crosses the bridge over the River Leam and is immediately conscious of the change. Here are nondescript buildings in ordinary streets, characterless by comparison. Our branch is excellently placed on this impressive main street, nearly opposite the Town Hall and quite close to the Pump Room.

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Two minutes away from the rear of the premises and one is in the excellently laid out Pump Room Gardens, while the  same distance from our front door on the other side of the street is the famous Jephson Park, full of beautiful flower beds, a lake from which burst forth fountains, and an island on which the band plays on a summer evening.

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The gardens are floodlit during the Season and attract thousands of visitors from the surrounding towns, a phenomenon which many of the inhabitants regard with very mixed feelings.


Incidentally, Leamington stages an annual flower show which many people consider to be second only to those of Southport and Shrewsbury. Standing in this sylvan setting it is hard to realise that the main street is only a few yards away. This part of the town, the Spa part, is dignified by the presence of many stately Georgian houses, a handsome legacy of a more gracious age. Quite apart from the undoubted merit of the exterior of our premises the branch itself is handsomely appointed, with plenty of space, plenty of room for expansion and an air of prosperity which gives confidence immediately upon entering. Although the branch at Leamington Spa is Mr. Eric S. Sexton's first managership, he is no stranger to the responsibilities of running a branch. During the long illness of the manager at Clubmoor in the early part of the last war, he took charge of this busy Liverpool suburban branch until he joined the Royal Air Force in 1941.

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It was at Clubmoor where we first met him and had the pleasure of working with him and we have always admired his zest for work, the merry twinkle in his eye and his many fine qualities.  His previous service includes varying periods spent at Liverpool City Office, where he started his career in 1926, West Derby, Aintree, South John Street, Inspection Department and Leicester. He was appointed Manager at Leamington Spa in 1951 when the branch was opened. During the war he served with R.A.F. Intelligence in India and attained the rank of Flight Lieutenant. He is now one of the leading lights in the small-bore rifle shooting club in Leamington.

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His second man is Mr. E. J. F. Crawford, whose previous service has been spent entirely on Merseyside, apart from the war years when he served with the gunners in Ceylon, India and Burma. The other two members of the staff are " locals." A. Arkell, a bright and promising young man, whom we did not have the pleasure of meeting, and Miss J. M. Butler, an attractive young lady who has been at the branch since the beginning, though the ring she displays on the third finger of her left hand suggests that she does not regard herself as a permanency. The photograph was taken in the Pump Room Gardens behind the branch and was the concluding ceremony of a short but very happy visit on Thursday, 8TH July.

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1951 to 1956 Mr E J F Crawford MBM-Su67P07.jpg

1954 Miss J M Butler MBM-Au54P18

1954 Mr Eric S Sexton Manager MBM-Au54P18

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Mr E J F Crawford

Branch Second

1951 to 1956

Miss J M Butler

On the Staff


Flt Lt Eric Sexton


1951 to 1959





150 The Parade


106 The Parade


73 The Parade

58 Bath Street








160 The Parade


126 the Parade               

33 The Parade

Crown Way Lillington      

1 Southbrough Terrace Brunswick Street


168 The Parade








61 The Parade






Index Number and District:






11-33-50 Leamington Spa

Full Branch

160 The Parade Leamington Spa Warwickshire

560 Midland

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

Leamington Spa 24543

Nightsafe installed

Mr J D Potter Manager



5 November 1951

15 December 1969

11 December 1970

Opened by Martins Bank Limited

Barclays Bank Limited 20-48-09 Leamington Spa the Parade





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