Martins Bank 1928+

George Street is actually the first of THREE homes for the main Plymouth branch of Martins Bank Limited, and is opened in 1939 somewhere within the rambling maze that is the Prudential Building, George Street.  In 1950 as part of the post-war development of Plymouth City Centre, the building is marked for demolition, and Martins is given notice to leave by December 1. The rather blurred and grainy image below (right) of the Prudential Building appears in the Western Morning News a few days after the evcuation deadline, which expires on 6 December 1950.

In Service: 2 January 1939 until 1 December 1950

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

The branch is forced to move temporarily into a Nissen Hut in Westwell Street. So begins the quest to find a location that will provide the room for business to grow in the City Centre.  The bank finally settles in the new ARMADA WAY development in Cornwall Street, in 1957 – having spent nearly seven years in the temporary accommodation at Westwell Street!  The following story is from the Western Morning News of 29 August 1950…

Image © Northcliffe Media Limited Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive

[TWO Plymouth Banks, at present occupying parts of the Prudential Building shortly to be demolished, will have to move from well equipped offices into Nissen Huts. These banks, Martins Bank and Plymouth and South Devon Savings Bank are faced with the problem of how to dispose of their heavy furniture, which cannot be installed in temporary huts. Martins Bank, told it must move into a Nissen Hut in Westwell Street by December 1, will send all its heavy furniture to the head office which will supply more suitable furnishings for the temporary premises, states the Manager, Mr F H Mathias.]   [Neither bank has any information about plans for new building.]

Look out below in the Staff Gallery for Mr Alec R Ellis, who Manages the Branch during the Second World War – he will go on to edit Martins Bank Magazine from its creation in 1946 until 1963. The only visit by Martins Bank Magazine to Plymouth, takes place in 1949.  The write up is fairly short, and begins with what seems to be an unusual talking point in these far less politically correct times - that the branch employs “an overseas girl”(!) Perhaps you could order one from stationery department?

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1949 03 MBM.jpgPlymouth branch employs an overseas girl. Miss P. J. Sapsed was born in Hong Kong, and has settled over here. She joined our Staff in February of this year. Mr. F. H. Mathias is a Liverpool man, who entered the bank in 1921. After serving at Waterloo, Stanley Road, Victoria Street and Blundellsands he went to Taunton in 1938. From 1942 to 1946 he served with H.M. Forces, afterwards returning to Taunton. He be came Manager at Plymouth in 1948. His second man is A. J. Irving, son of Mr. William Irving, retired Chief Cashier of Heywoods branch. He entered the bank in 1934 and served at Liver­pool City Office, Breck Road, Heathfield and Egremont before joining H.M. Forces, in which he served from 1939 to 1946. He was appointed to Plymouth in 1947. On the evening of our visit we went out to see Mr. and Mrs. Mathias in their very pleasant home at Elburton, up on the hill commanding a magnificent view of Plymouth, Devonport and the Sound. 

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There we talked about the branch and the business and about people and things until the lighthouse on the distant reef commenced its nightly sweep. Plymouth is not lacking in reminders of the courage and enterprise of her valiant sons.  Our representatives in this furthest outpost of the bank have courage and enterprise, too. We wish them fair weather and following winds so that their ship may come home in due season. We would like to conclude on a personal note by expressing our thanks to the Managers and signing officers who went to so much trouble for our comfort and entertainment during this tour. It was a great pleasure to meet the wives and children of some of them and very pleasant indeed to visit their homes. We speak of the family spirit within the Bank but we feel it would be more correct to say " within the circle of the Bank," for the wives are very much a part of it and no man can do his best without the constant loyalty, support and understanding of his wife. This is especially so in the outposts of the bank, and they one and all work tirelessly to help make a success of the job. Good luck to them !

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Images © Martins Bank Archive Collections

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1939 to 1941 Mr E Brown Manager MBM-Sp56P50.jpg

1939 to 1943 Mr A R Ellis Manager from 1941 MBM-Sp65P56.jpg

1947 to 1958 Mr A J Irving Ltd Auth from 1953 MBM-Sp66P07.jpg

1948 to 1952 Mr F H Mathias Manager MBM-Sp65P54.jpg

1949 Miss P J Sapsed MBM-Au49P30.jpg






Mr E Brown


1939 to 1941

Mr Alec R Ellis

On the Staff 1939-41

Manager 1941-43

Mr A J Irving

On the Staff

1947 to 1951

Mr F H Mathias


1948 to 1951

Miss P J Sapsed

On the Staff



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Index Number and District:






11-673 Plymouth George Street

Full Branch

73 George Street Plymouth Devon

--- Midland

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

Plymouth 3034

Nightsafe Installed

Mr F H Mathias Manager

Plymouth Cornwall Street

2 January 1939


1 December 1950

Opened by Martins Bank Limited

Demolition Order Placed on building

Closed and moved to Westwell Street

Plymouth Westwell Street


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