Sep 1.jpg

 

Sep 1.jpg

It’s 1964 and the times they are already a-changin’ in the centre of Birmingham, where the now tired Jamaica Row and Markets areas of the City is bulldozed to make way for the (in)famous Bull Ring Centre.  Martins Bank’s Birmingham Markets Branch at 72 Jamaica Row is demolished, and the business is relocated to the new Smithfield House.  From now on this office will be known as Digbeth Branch, and its new home at Nos 24/28 Digbeth is a branch to be proud of. Numbering amongst the larger and more modern offices of Martins Bank, Digbeth has a spacious interior which is just the right place to transact business in the swinging sixties The theme of Martins Bank’s 1960s new branches, rebuilds and refurbishements, is space and light - a real departure from the dark wood panelling and the oppresive atmosphere of the more tradional banking halls… Coupled with this, Martins staff will of course always go to extremes to be helpful, but at Digbeth, one member of staff in particular literally does go that extra mile.

Sep 1.jpg

sp21966 Gloria Dourass Secretarial MBM-Wi66P33.jpg

Sep 1.jpg

This is Gloria Dourass, secretary at Digbeth.  Quiet, skilled and efficient, she works away at her typewriter as do secretaries in Martins’ branches up and down the land.  Gloria is not, however, all she appears to be.  It would not be an exaggeration to mention that she is WORLD FAMOUS in a particular “field”(!)

Sep 1.jpg

1960 s Digbeth Exterior BGA Ref 30-212.jpg

Images © Barclays Ref 0030/0212

 

 

1960 s Digbeth interior BGA Ref 30-212.jpg

This is all is down to something special that she does in competition with others from around the globe. Is is shorthand?  Is it filing?  No, not even we would be so sexist.  Put simply and accurately, Gloria is:

Sep 1.jpg

Sep 1.jpg

The Fastest Giel in the Bank

Sep 1.jpg

Sep 1.jpg

1966 04 MBM.jpg. . . but in the nicest possible way, and quite unspoilt by her successes and the attendant publicity: that is Gloria Dourass. When at the age of nineteen she travelled to Motspur Park in 1964 for the second year and helped the Bank to win the Ladies' Championship she twice equalled the I.B.A.A. Ladies' 100 yards record and set up a new record for the 220 yards. Until then few people outside the world of athletics had heard of this slim, dark girl from Digbeth branch, but in our Autumn issue that year the Midland District news said she had been making headlines in Midlands athletics that summer. She won the Warwickshire women's 440 yards championship in a time of 58.1 seconds, later becoming the Midland women s 400 metres champion. Recently at an inter-club meeting in Birmingham she set up a new Midland women's record in the 440 yards with a time 'of 57.1 seconds. Since then her successes have continued  - Warwickshire quarter-mile champion, Midland 400 metres champion, and with the English team in Berlin last year. This year she added the Welsh 440 yards champion­ship to her Warwickshire title with a new record and was one of four girls who represented Wales at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Jamaica, where she reached the semi-final of the 220 yards and in the final of the 440 yards ranked 8th in the Commonwealth with a time of 55.5 seconds. With her team she achieved 5th place in the 4x 110 yards relay, a consider­able triumph for a small nation. Why Wales? The answer is nationality. Gloria's mother is Welsh, coming to Birmingham from South Wales in the depression of the 1930's, and later marrying Sidney Dourass. It is a strange quirk of fate that Gloria's grandfather who left Wales to find work in Birmingham for his family's sake now has a granddaughter of whom Wales is proud. Gloria might never have become an athlete but for her lively mother and her eminently sensible father who decided, as other wise parents have done, that children are better employed doing than watching.

Sep 1.jpg

G Dourass Medal 2.jpgSidney Dourass had always been interested in young people and in sport of all kinds: feeling that G Dourass Medal 1.jpgGloria might take to athletics he took her along at the age of nine to an athletics club to see what they'd say. They advised him to take her to Small Heath Harriers and she has been with them ever since. At first she played about and her school friends came too; she practised, listened, became absorbed, and won some school events. When she was seventeen John Walker, the Small Heath coach, told Mr Dourass that he would like to train his promising daughter and Mr Dourass agreed. John Walker trained Gloria hard for two years, and then sent her out to win the Warwickshire 440 yards championship in 58.1 seconds - the fifth best time in the country.  In athletics one can train and become good; one can train with dedication and become very good, or one can persist in training until at times everything screams for relief. That way one becomes a cham­pion.

Sep 1.jpg

1966 Gloria Dourass at Inter Bank AA Meeting Motspur Park MBM-Wi66P32.jpg1966 Gloria Dourass at home with parents and trophies MBM-Wi66P32.jpgWith fleetness of foot, normal fitness and a few practice sprints one might not be disgraced over 100 or even 220 yards but more is needed for the quarter mile which, as a sprint, has been termed a killer race. Gloria's training continues throughout the year in all weathers. In winter there are cross country runs and races, and 660 yards 'repetitions' - perhaps five in one evening - interspersed with walks and jogs; there are 3 to 6 miles of roadwork, accelerations and decelerations, sprints, hill work and weight training. In summer there are timed sprints from 4 x 110 to 3 x 330 yards, and starts over 60 yards. She stops all training for one or perhaps two evenings before an event, but for really testing competition she often has to practise against the men in her club. She tries to give herself one evening off each week, eats everything, puts on a little weight in winter and loses it without difficulty in the spring to scale about eight stone eight and, except at weekends, is in bed by 10 o'clock every night without any prompting.

Sep 1.jpg

In addition to this there is her job as manager's secretary at Digbeth branch. Before asking 'Is it worth it?' we should remember that Gloria Dourass has found something at which she excels and is thus in a very different position from those who have not. To excel she has had to give up a lot of the fun which girls of her age enjoy. The strain of keeping at peak fitness in and out of season has been eased by the help and understanding of her parents, the co-operation and goodwill of her colleagues, and the attitude of a Bank which goes to extremes to be helpful. All these things she knows and appreciates, but there must be occasions when she would like to feel that she didn't have to drive herself so. She is young, full of life, and is a thoroughly happy person. She may have another two or three years before she reaches her peak but neither she nor anybody else can be certain.

Sep 1.jpg

Were she to stop now she would never know what she was really capable of achieving and might then have to live with regrets. By continuing she might reach greater heights - might even become a successful half-miler - or find she was not as good as before. Speaking as one of her many friends we hope she will continue, not for the honour and glory of herself, her club or the Bank, but because she epitomises what so many of us would like to be but never will be - successful but modest, determined but considerate, dedicated but human, and a credit to far-sighted parents.  We have a feeling this won't be decided by her parents or by her friends. One day a young man who also happens to be a quarter-miler is going to say That's enough. Now we'll get married!', and when that time comes it will be the right time. He will know it and so will she and all her friends will be sorry and glad.

Sep 1.jpg

When it’s all still “shiny and new”…

The newspaper feature and advertisement for the new Branch of Martins Bank at Digbeth, appears on the day the Branch first opens its doors – 13 April 1964 – in the Birmingham Daily Post. As it is fairly difficult to make out some of the words in this original copy, we have provided below a synopsis of the main body of the article as it relates to the Bank’s moving to Digbeth from its former Branch at Jamaica row, which is only a few yards away. The article, (reproduced here by courtesy of our friends at the British Newspaper Archive), also provides us with a brief profile of Mr C A Brockbank, first manager at Digbeth Branch…

 

Sep 1.jpg

Sep 1.jpg

{BECAUSE of a considerable increase in business at the Jamaica Row, Birmingham, branch of Martins Bank, the branch has been transferred to larger, modern premises at 24-28 Digbeth, only a few yards away. These new premises open for business for the first time today. The Jamaica Row site where Martins opened a branch in 1936 will ultimately be taken over as part of the Corporation's development scheme for that area. Mr W E Turnbull. District General Manager of Martins Bank, said “We are bursting at the seams in the old premise and much in need of larger and better accommodation in the area – particularly with the growing number of professional industrial and commercial account the branch is handling. The signs are that this growth is gathering momentum.”

Sep 1.jpg

NEW CONCEPTS

Sep 1.jpg

The manager of the Jamaica Row branch for the past 2½ years, Mr J B Cullen, is taking up an appointment with the Bank in Manchester. New manager at Digbeth 39 year-old Liverpool born Mr C. A. Brockbank who has been transferred from the Bank’s South Western District office in Bristol. Traditional concepts of what a bank should look like have been discarded in the construction of the new branch It provides a good example of the new styles of architecture which the Bank is encouraging.

Sep 1.jpg

SIMPLE LINES

Sep 1.jpg

1960 s Digbeth interior BGA Ref 30-212.jpgGone are the lofty pillars, plain stone floors and cold clinical lines traditionally associated with banking.  Gone also are the plain dark-stained mahogany and austere furnishings. An official of the Bank said: “While a bank must obviously look business-like and be defined along simple dignified lines, it needs something else nowadays—atmosphere.  We set out to give a branch brightness and warmth as well as efficiency in our planning of new premises. Martins Bank has leased the whole of the frontage, ground floor, and part of the basement of the building housing the Digbeth branch. The interior has been completely reconstructed, and customers transferring from Jamaica Row will notice not simply a considerable increase in size but a much more attractive banking hall. Entrance is by way of a wide plate glass door leading into a generous-sized lobby.  The only barrier between this lobby and the banking hall is a glass screen and clear glass swing doors over which is a concealed louvred duct pumping down hot air—preventing draughts even when the doors are left open. Within the public space an unusual slatted ceiling has been constructed out of 20ft-long strips of rich Oregon pine This ceiling is completely isolated from the walls by a deep recess in which is concealed strip lighting, The main wall and counter are faced with Indian laurel hardwood, The floor and 14in high skirting consist of marble slabs.

Sep 1.jpg

NEAT FURNITURE

Sep 1.jpg

Beyond the counter the staff work in bright clean surroundings with white walls, fluorescent lighting and neat furniture sited for space and ease of movement.  A well-lit machine room, though effectively screened from the public space is immediately adjacent to the banking hall.  Other up to date features include a 22ft-long warm air curtain spread across the public space allowing adequate warmth without the stagnant feeling often associated with conventional central heating.  In the waiting room and manager’s office electric lighting is from specially-shaped recessed reflectors which give a wider spread of light than conventional recessed lights. Staff rooms have been decorated in relaxing pastel and olive greens with furniture to match. An orange-coloured plastic material often used today for upholstery, has been applied to a corridor wall, providing a colourful hard wearing surface. Loose fittings and general furniture have been designed or chosen to blend with the overall design in matching hardwood.  Even the customers' ashtrays and wastepaper baskets and the clerks' blotters have been specially selected. Passers-by may be intrigued by the shield on the end of the building facing downhill.  It depicts two creatures—one a grasshopper, which has long been the Bank’s emblem, and the other the legendary Liver bird which tells of the association with the Bank of Liverpool. The bird has a piece of seaweed in its mouth signifying the connection with the sea.

Sep 1.jpg

665 BRANCHES

Sep 1.jpg

The Digbeth branch is the latest step in a national expansion programme being carried out by Martins Bank which has a total of 665 branches throughout the country. The programme involves both the opening of new branches and the reconstruction of existing premises. Architects in charge of the fitting out of the branch were Messrs Essex, Goodman and Suggitt of Birmingham, who also designed Martins’ recently opened Sutton Coldfield branch.  Main contractor was J. & W Malley Ltd.

Sep 1.jpg

THE MANAGER ENGINEER

Sep 1.jpg

BESIDES being the new manager of Martins Bank's branch at Digbeth, Mr. Christopher A Brockbank is also a qualified engineer.  He is a graduate of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  This qualification was acquired during his service career with the Royal Navy. He was commissioned and served as an air engineer officer with maintenance units and squadrons in Britain and Ceylon during the war.  Mr. Brockbank, who is married and has two sons, joined Martins Bank in 1941 in Liver pool.  For the past four years he has been an inspector at the Bank’s South Western District Office in Bristol.  He represented Martins Bank at the International Banking Summer School in Holland in 1960. He finds his engineering training invaluable as a banker. “It gives me a chance to talk to industrial and commercial customers, on their own terms and a better insight into their problems”, he says.

Sep 1.jpg

News Images and Text © Trinity Mirror/Findmypast

Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive

Sep 1.jpg

Having read of the optimism of the new Digbeth Branch in 1964, with its sleek modern lines and the use of finest construction techniques and materials, it makes this particular “Then and now” feature that bit more sad to see how the building looked in 2015…

Sep 1.jpg

Imags © Barclays Ref 0030/0212

Images © Martins Bank Archive Collection – Keith Mason 2015

Sep 1.jpg

Sep 1.jpg

1964 to 1966 Mr J T Parsons Limited Authority MBM-Wi68P07.jpg

1964 to 1967 Mr C A Brockbank Manager MBM-Su64P07.jpg

1964 to 1967 Mr W D Beardsley Pro Manager MBM-Su67P04.jpg

1966 Gloria Dourass Secretary MBM-Wi66P32.jpg

1967 Mr J E Davies Manager MBM-Su67P08.jpg

1967 to 1968 Mr D B Woolgar pro Manager MBM-Su67P04.jpg

Sep 1.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Mr J T Parsons

Limited Authority

1964 to 1966

Mr C A Brockbank

On the Staff

1964 to 1967

Mr W D Beardsley

Pro Manager

1964 to 1967

Miss Gloria Dourass

Secretary and World Class runner(!) 1966

Mr J E Davies

Manager

1967 Onwards

Mr D B Woolgar

Pro Manager

1967 to 1968

Sep 1.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

1968 George Ray MBM-Wi68P32.jpg

1968 Mr WE Pemberton pro Manager MBM-Au68P14.jpg

BW Logo

BW Logo

BW Logo

BW Logo

Sep 1.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Mr George Ray

On the Staff

1968

Mr W E Pemberton

Pro Manager

1968

 

 

 

 

Sep 1.jpg

Title:

Type:

Address:

Index Number and District:

Hours:

 

Telephone:

Services:

Manager:

11-37-30 Birmingham Digbeth

Full Branch

24/28 Digbeth Birmingham 5

587 Midland

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

021 622 2967/9

Nightsafe Installed

Mr J E Davies Manager

Sep 1.jpg

Monday 13 April 1964

15 December 1969

12 November 1976

Currently

Opened by Martins Bank Limited

Barclays Bank Limited 20-07-77 Birmingham Digbeth

Closed

Office Accommodation

Gutinfo.jpgM