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Martins Bank 1928+

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Time Team…

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It’s 1951, and Martins Bank opens a new branch (which it has been busy equipping and staffing since 19500 at 33 Market Street Longton, adding another office to the Bank’s Staffordshire portfolio, and strengthening the its foothold in the Potteries.  The building has had many uses both before and after the arrival of Martins, and by the end of the twentieth century it is home to what is most kindly referred to as “a number of retail outlets”. The future of the British High Street seems permanently in the balance in the Twenty-First Century, with the “pop-up shop” literally here today, gone tomorrow…

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1951 Longton Exterior Close Up BGA Ref 30-1729.jpg

Image © Barclays Ref 0030/1729

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Only the top two floors of the building provide the evidence that there was ever a bank here.  The lovely image on the left was taken around the time the branch was opened in 1951.  It would appear that the belisha beacon on the left of the image is also still there, albeit as a modern “red and green man” pedestrian crossing.  What we do to our town centres is sometimes only apparent when we glimpe the not so distant past like this and realise just how quickly we have all changed. 2010 Branch Sign A and G Myatt.jpgIn 2010 -  this portal to another age was discovered between two shops on Longton’s Market Street. The 1960s had been covered up, and as the building was changing hands once more, things briefly looked as they did more than forty years ago…

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martin's  42010 Branch frontage uncovered A and G Myatt.jpgWe had wondered why the Martins Coat of Arms appears the wrong way round, until we discovered it is mounted on a removable piece of glass which must at some stage have been replaced wrongly after cleaning!  We are indebted to Alan and Glynis Myatt for these images, and to Mrs K Smart who contacted us having found the sign above the door of her new shop.  It seems Longton branch is definitely in a time warp, as the original inner doors and the bank vault area are still intact.  Sadly the basement area is subject to flooding, but the safe door (shown left) is still there, and you could almost expect to see bank staff pottering about, counting money.  It is rare to find branches looking anything like they used to, and Alan and Glynis’s pictures are therefore a little piece of history, marking the short period that the branch has resurfaced before finding yet another modern use. All this makes us wonder how many more of our old branches still have signs and other fixtures still intact, but maybe hidden under modern shop fittings?  If you know of any more examples, please get in touch with us at the usual address:  gutinfo@btinternet.com

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Behind Closed Doors…

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2010 Inner doors still intact A and G Myatt.jpg1951 Longton Interior Doors BGA Ref 30-1729.jpgOn the left, the internal doors are still intact, and in very good condition.  On the right we get to see a little of what used to be behind those doors – and in the article below we have more of the internal pictures that were taken when the branch was new.   Although the building itself wasn’t new, the Architects at Martins Bank Premises Department did an amazing job converting what was there into such a dignified place in which to do business. Not for the first time, a clever stone façade and internal dark wood fittings lend an air of permanence, stability and safety to a Branch of Martins Bank Limited!  This must clearly have been when Market Street itself knew better days, and local trading conditions supported the addition of a new Bank.  So now it’s back to 1952, and a visit to Longton by Martins Bank Magazine, not long after the new branch had opened.  As usual there is a good deal written about the local area, and you can meet some of the staff mentioned, in our gallery at the bottom of this page.

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1952 Longton staff MBM-Su52P40.jpg1952 02 MBM.jpgThe Potteries are approached through a smiling countryside, disarming in its loveliness, and the approach is made on high ground so that one looks down on the Five Towns lying in the valley below. The visitor who sees this prospect for the first time can be excused for standing appalled before continuing on the down­ward road which leads him to the heart of the inferno which is revealed to his horrified gaze.


The whole valley belches smoke and dirt from batteries of kilns which seem to be mingled with all other buildings higgledy-piggledy. The factories are, in many cases, right on the main streets as well as on the side streets and most of the industry in the valley appears to have something to do directly or in­directly with the making of pottery.   We made our way through the smoke-hazed streets on which the sun nevertheless contrived to shine brightly, remembering our last visit on a wet day when the smoke wouldn't rise and gloom and fog obscured everything.

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The object of our journey was to visit our new branch at Longton and to renew acquaintance with our old friends Mr. and Mrs. Bardsley.  Mr. Bardsley was Mr. Verity's secretary for a time, in 1946, and his wife (nee Brenda Smith) was on the Head Office Telephone Switchboard. Mr. Bardsley entered the Bank in 1936 and served at Hanley and Leicester as well as on the Relief Staff and in Branch Department before his appointment as Pro Manager at Hanley in 1948.

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He opened Longton last year. Premises Department have contrived to make a nice little office of the premises which formerly housed a shop and a satisfactory business is being developed there. Shortly after our arrival we paid a visit to one of Mr. Bardsley's customers, the Stanley Pottery, and were shown over the works.  We were introduced to the sagger maker's bottom knocker, who, for those unversed in the specialised lan­guage of the Trade, is the man who makes the bottoms for the cases of fire clay in which the china is enclosed for baking in the kilns. He flattens a lump of clay into a “shape” with a wooden tool called a knocker while his superior officer makes the case. We also managed to smash a plate which we were exami­ning; it just dropped to pieces in our hand. (We seem to have heard that one somewhere before!). The explanation, of course, was that it hadn't been fired. (Nor have we, so far!)

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1951 Longton Interior 7 BGA Ref 30-1729.jpg

1951 Longton Interior 5 BGA Ref 30-1729.jpg

Branch Images © Barclays Ref 0030/1729

We were very much impressed with a trade which has not yet succumbed to the machine age, where the skill of the craftsman, whether at the potter's wheel or with the paintbrush, still predominates. We were also struck with the apparent happiness of the work people and we were told that despite the grimness of living conditions in the Five Towns the people are noted for their keen sense of humour and their kindliness.

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1951 Longton Interior 6 BGA Ref 30-1729.jpg

After lunch we went to Trentham Gardens, seat of the wartime Central Clearing House, now restored to its proper function as a dance hall, café and entertainment centre. The grounds were looking lovely in their spring dress and it was hard to realise that ten minutes' run in a car and one would be plunged again into the murk and soot of the Towns. Then to the branch again to take the photograph of the staff. In addition to Mr. Bardsley there is Mr. R. S. King, who started his career at Cocks Biddulph branch, going to Hanley after the war and to Longton last year. Also, Mr. P. Boulton, who entered the service at the Central Clearing House in 1944, afterwards going to Stafford. Miss H. Davies entered the Bank in April of last year. We went to a piece of waste ground less than five minutes' walk from the branch and took two photographs. We wanted a typical background and have used the better of the two. The other, taken against a background of twenty-six smoking chimneys and kilns, did not quite convey the idea we meant to convey or we would certainly have used it.

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The long hard road to retirement...

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It seems Longton’s Manager Mr Dakin had something of a struggle on his hands trying to make a success of the Branch. This is due in part to competition from local banks. The Midland District Results for the year 1962 reveal a number of telling statistics.  Mr Dakin has a staff of four men and two women. His length of service (which will total forty-three years when he retires) means he is quite high up the pay scale at £1,810 per annum.  Set this against a profit of just £370 for the year and we can see that Longton is barely paying its own way, the Manager’s salary alone being equal to nearly five times the profit of the Branch! This result puts Longton at number 26 in the league table of 37 Midland Branches. There are 674 Current and Deposit accounts.  Total average credit balances are £157,000 against average debit balances of £107,000. The District Manager’s summary of Longton’s position is quite to the point – “Difficult area where the Manager tries hard but has difficulty in holding our position. He would welcome a change”.  Sadly for Mr Dakin, it appears the change he craved came only when he retired – some seven years later – and this might explain his rather dour expression in the photograph. He finally hangs up his tie forever early in 1969, and entertains colleagues and friends to a buffet. Martins Bank Magazine takes up the story…

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on January 30 Mr Dakin retired after twelve years as Manager at Longton and 43 years' service in the Bank. He had begun his career with the Lancashire & York­shire Bank in Bradford and moved to the North Eastern District in 1936. Ten years later, six of them with H.M. Forces, he moved to the Midland District and his appointment came in 1956. At his request there was no formal presentation but forty friends and colleagues joined Mr and Mrs Dakin at the branch, where the District General Manager, Mr Hollway, presented a handsome portable radio and a scroll listing the subscribers. Mrs V. Fox gave Mrs Dakin a bouquet. In his speech of thanks Mr Dakin said he had no firm plans for the future but felt that he and his wife might move at a later date to North Wales. He then invited his guests to a buffet meal. Mr Dakin was entertained to lunch at Head Office by Mr Maxwell, and by Mr Hollway at Midland District Office.

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1951 to 1957 Mr D C Bardsley Manager MBM-Su58P08.jpg

1952 Miss H Davies MBM-Su52P40.jpg

1952 Mr P Boulton  MBM-Wi67P01.jpg

1952 Mr RS King MBM-Sp65P05.jpg

1957 to 1969 Mr J R Dakin Manager MBM-Sp69P54.jpg

1969 Mr W Alderton Manager MBM-Sp69P08.jpg

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Mr D C Bardsley


1951 to 31/01/1956

Miss H Davies

On the Staff


Mr P Boulton

On the Staff


Mr R S King

On the Staff


Mr J R Dakin

Manager 01/02/1956 to 30/01/1969

Mr W Alderton


01/02/1969 to 1970

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Index Number and District:






11-64-50 Longton

Full Branch

33 Market Street Longton Stoke on Trent Staffordshire

555 Midland

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

Stoke-on-T 39737

Nightsafe Installed

Mr W Alderton Manager


15 December 1969



opened by Martins Bank Limited

Barclays Bank Limited 20-52-49 Longton Market Street


This area is being redeveloped