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Mercantile Bank of Lancashire

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These magnificent premises at Mosley Street Manchester are the former Head Office of the Mercantile Bank of Lancashire, opened around five or six years after the creation of that bank.  When the building comes into the possession of Martins Bank, through the amalgamation of the Bank of Liverpool and Martins Ltd and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank, the new Bank also inherits the even grander premises at 43 Spring Gardens which hitherto as the Head Office of the Lancashire and Yorkshire are felt to be better suited for use as Martins Bank’s MANCHESTER DISTRICT OFFICE.  There is really no need to keep on another large building such as Mosley Street, and the sheer number of Manchester Branches brought to Martins by the amalgamation of 1928 means there will be little disruption to service if Mosley Street is closed.  This duly takes place in 1934.   It seems a shame that such a magnificent building with a central location was let go from the service of the bank, but at least in those days companies weren’t queueing up  to turn such places into wine bars or betting shops. There also wasn’t the dilemma we have today of having no use for such a lovely building, yet not wanting to let it go in favour of somewhere much more modern and impersonal!

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1922 Mosley Street Branch as L & Y Bank PA.jpg

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collection

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Extract from Martins Bank Limited Annual Report and Accounts for 1928 – © Barclays

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Established in 1890, the Mercantile Bank of Lancashire grows exponentially - in less than five years from two to forty-two branches, causing one of  many headaches to the new fashion for amalgamating banks – the duplication of offices in large towns and cities.  The following extracts from FOUR CENTURIES OF BANKING tell a little more of the story…


{On 1 May 1895, the Board discussed the question of new premises for the Head Office, as the lease of the existing premises was to expire at Christmas 1896 and could not be renewed. The block on Mosley Street and York Street next to the Union Bank and opposite the Manchester and Salford Bank was on sale at £37,500 coupled with the condition that £25,000 should remain on mortgage for five or seven years at 3½  per cent. On 31 May 1895 the Bank resolved to offer £35,000. It preferred to pay cash, but requested that if £25,000 were to remain on mortgage, interest should only be 3¼  per cent. The owners made a counter offer of £36,500, with interest at 3¼ per cent. The Bank replied with £36,250 but authorised the manager to offer £36,500 if necessary. Contracts were exchanged on 12 June 1895 at this price. Eventually all the difficulties were resolved and the Head Office was completed.


On 4 January 1899 the Board decided to invite shareholders attending the annual meet­ing to inspect the Head Office and to provide light refreshments}. {The number of offices rose from two (Head Office and Princess Street) in 1891 to 42 in 1904, including the new Head Office in Mosley Street. In 1904 there were nine branches in Manchester - All Saints, Cheetham and Hightown, Deansgate, Exchange (formerly Cross Street), Great Ancoats Street, Harpurhey, Longsight and Ardwick, Old Trafford and Shudehill. There were 22 branches at Altrincham, Ashton-under-Lyne, Blackburn, Bolton, Bramhall, Broadheath, Burnley, Buxton, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Halifax, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Moor, Leek, Northenden, Oldham, Padiham, Sale, Southport, Stalybridge, Stockport, West Didsbury and Widnes. There were also six branches in the Isle of Man - Douglas, Ramsey, Crescent and Onchan, Castletown, Peel and Port Erin. There were four cattle market agencies at Liverpool, Salford, Wakefield and York}.




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1916 Mr R Tonge joined the bank here MBM-Au53P10.jpg

1919 to 1920  Mr T Cowpe MBM-Au47P24.jpg

1924 Mr J W Harvey joined the bank here MBM-Wi62P04.jpg

1927 to 1934 Mr WA Lawrence MBM-Su64P04.jpg

BW Logo

BW Logo

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Mr R Tonge

Joined the bank here


Mr T Cowpe

On the staff

1919 to 1920

Mr J W Harvey

Joined the bank here


Mr W A Lawrence

On the staff

1927 to 1934













11-527 Manchester Mosley Street

Sub to 11-525 Manchester City Office

32 Mosley Street Corner of York Street Manchester 2


Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1200

CITy 2200

Counter Service

Manchester Foreign Department

Mr G F Walker (1934)


1 July 1904

3 January 1928


Opened by the Mercantile Bank of Lancashire

The Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank

Martins Bank Limited