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Martins Bank 1928+

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1959 COA.jpgCharles Street Leicester attracts huge publicity in 1959 when Martins opens a drive through banking lane at one end of the building. Whilst this is a first for Martins Bank, it is not the first drive-in bank in the UK. The idea however, does last until the late 1980s, yet in the twenty-first century, whilst you can drive-in for all manner of fast things – not least a bewildering array of fast food offerings - fast cash is not one of them. You can read all about the drive-in bank, and the people who worked there on our LEICESTER DRIVE-IN BANK page. In the blaze of publicity surrounding this new and innovative way to do your banking, it is easy to forget what goes on inside the actual Branch at Charles Street.

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1959 Leicester, Charles St Exterior MBM-Au59P33.jpg

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collection

1959 Charles Street Interior 1 - BGA Ref 30-1597

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Charles Street Interior – streamlined and efficient.

Branch Images © Barclays Ref 30-1597

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Much has been written elsewhere on this site of Charles Street Leicester’s role in housing the successful Drive-In Bank. Thus far we haven’t seen inside the branch, so we’ll let this page about the branch be more of an “indoor” thing… Sadly the colour cameras don’t venture inside the building when the drive-in first opens, so we’ll have to use our imagination a little with the image above. Martins’ love affair with “chessboard” floor tiling has arrived, and will dominate the 1960s!Amongst those who step into the banking hall that day, to stand on the chess-board tiles, are some rather important people: The Chairman of Martins Bank, Sir Harold Bibby on the left, smiles broadly as Martins’ newest new idea comes to fruition. In the middle is the Minister of Transport, Mr Harold Watkinson, and on the right is the proud manager of Charles Street Branch, Mr J K Cornall. Barclays actually does stay true to Martins’ innovation, giving it a good run for its money, and continues to operate the drive-in bank until 1988 – a run of thirty years’ service. Charles Street Branch itself last a little bit longer, and closes in March 1993. In 1998 time is backwards for a short time only, as building work at Martins’ former Charles Street premises unearths the familiar Martins signage, still carved into the marbled fascia. How well it has stood the test of time, looking not only good as new, but as sophisticated as any modern shop sign. This lovely colour image from 1998 was sent to us by our friend Rob Hancock, who took the opportunity to grab a little piece of history before the building took up its new role as an office of the Derbyshire Building Society. Nowadays the building houses an oriental foods shop.


1995 Exterior signage uncovered Rob Hancock.jpg

2013 Exterior on 27 Feb Rob Hancock MBA.jpg

Images © Martins Bank Archive Collection – Rob Hancock 2013

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1959 Mr J K Cornall Manager MBM-Sp59P38.jpg

1959 to 1961 Mr A Hill Limited Authority MBM-Wi65P05.jpg

1960 to 1962 Mr P T Ryder joined the bank here MBM-Su69P14.jpg

1967 Mr ALS Watson Manager MBM-Au67P04.jpg

BW Logo

BW Logo

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Mr J K Cornall


1959 to 1967

Mr A Hill

Limited Authority

1959 to 1961

Mr P T Ryder

Joined the Bank Here

1960 to 1962

Mr A L S Watson


1967 onwards




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Index Number and District:







11-36-51 Leicester Charles Street

Main Branch with drive-in banking service

81 Charles Street Leicester

582 Midland

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130


Nightsafe Installed

Drive in facilities

Mr A L S Watson Manager


15 December 1969


19 March 1993


opened by Martins Bank Limited

Barclays Bank Limited 20-48-83 Leicester Charles Street

Drive-in Banking Service Closed

Branch Closed

Asiana Express Oriental Food Specialist