Martins Bank 1928+

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Liverpool University is an example of a new branch that is so successful, it outgrows itself to the point where bigger and better premises are needed.  Within ten years of opening at 164 Brownlow Hill, the area is due for redevelopment, and the Branch moves to the next postal district of Liverpool, and into temporary offices (a wooden hut) at Bedford Street North, before moving into new purpose-built premises at ALSOP BUILDING, Brownlow Hill.  Each of Liverpool’s University Branches is featured separately within the Online Archive – you can visit Bedford Street North by clicking HERE. 

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This selection is from Martins Bank’s 1961 Student Advertising Campaign a series of images that can be used again and again.

Consequently, the faces of these “students” will become quite familiar as they advertise the Bank’s university Branches up and down the Country. Further down the page you can read an article from the Architect and Building News from 1959 which reveals some surprising facts about the conversion of this former shop into an outlet designed to attract custom from Liverpool’s Students; but first – the fact that Martins pioneers Liverpool University Branch at all is actually down to the idea of a member of the Bank’s staff and in the following article from Martins Bank Magazine’s visit to Brownlow Hill, we learn that the Assistant Manager Mr W T Green is the man with the brainwave. The Branch is managed by Mr Ken Tarbuck, who, not content with simply working for the Bank, is also a successful rock climber who has invented a knot for the use and protection of his fellow climbers!  Still used today, it bears his name – “The Tarbuck Knot”.  Having an ideas man – Mr Green, AND what amounts to a “boy’s own hero” – Mr Tarbuck, on the premises might be a definite advantage for a Bank aiming to attract the financial business of those “go-getting” graduates of tomorrow…

In service: Thursday 1 May 1958 – 1966 then moved (see foot of page)

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Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

(Restored and re-mastered 2018)

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

(Restored and re-mastered 2018)

 

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1958 03 MBM.jpgONE of the most interesting of our new branch ventures is the modest office with the imposing title which is now open at 164 Brownlow Hill Liverpool. As its name implies, the branch is situ­ated where it will be convenient for both staff and students of the University and it is felt that a great potential source of new business must exist on a long-term basis in and around any great centre of learning such as this, and that much useful work can be done by such a branch in preparing the ground for the future.

 

At the same time, the branch caters for the ordinary residents and shopkeepers of the district whose interests are now better served than has hitherto been possible. It ought to be said at the outset that the idea of opening this branch was first put up in a letter written to Head Office by an ordinary member of the staff, which just goes to show that all good ideas do not necessarily originate at Head Office, as is sometimes cynically suggested. It is also worth noting that interest and keenness shown by an ordinary member of the staff will produce results if on the right lines.

 

At any rate, the man whose idea it was has been given the opportunity of helping to see his idea through to ultimate success by being transferred to the new branch. W. T. Green is the name. The choice of manager for a branch such as this also needed some very careful selection, and in Mr. A. K. Tarbuck a singularly happy choice was made. Apart from a brief spell at Oxford branch all his service has been performed at branches in the Liverpool district, latterly at Heywoods branch.

 

As a mountaineer and a first-class rock climber, inventor of the Tarbuck knot used in climbing, and the author of articles on mountain technique, Ken Tarbuck is well known to the more adventurous types found, though not exclusively, in University circles. His gay, sunny and friendly disposition and his frank and sympathetic outlook on life, especially on youth and its problems, particularly fit him to make a success of this branch. We are all watching his efforts with keen interest.

 

1958 Liverpool University Staff MBM-Au58P36.jpgThe third member of his staff is N. P. Fobister, a fortunate young man to be able to spend some of his formative banking years in a new branch where the accent is on enterprise and initiative. The opening of the branch has also focussed. attention on other University cities in which we have branches and the problem of making University students not only banking-minded, but Martins-banking-minded, is occupying an increasing amount of attention. The new branch is the first to be opened, in the City of Liverpool for some years, if you except the new branches on trading and housing estates. With regard to the premises, it is really surprising what can be done with what was originally a house over a shop. Premises Department and the architect are to be complimented on a little gem of contrivance which they have evolved from somewhat unpromising material. Although small, the new branch is beautifully decorated and attractively appointed and nothing about it should deter the most cagey person from setting his foot inside this bank. “Welcome” is written all over it, though it is a pity that such prominence had to be given to a burglar alarm so soon in its career!

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An early raid…

We were delighted to be contacted by Fiona Winter - the daughter of William T Green - who shared with us a collection of letters and other items which illustrate her father’s career with Martins Bank. On our STUDENT BANKING page, you will find a series of letters which chart the inception and progression of Mr Green’s idea to bring student banking to the University. No-one could have guessed how successful this idea would become amongst the high street banks of the UK over more than forty years, and this is a legacy of which Mr Green and his family were rightly proud.  The new University Branch had been open less than a year before it was the subject of a planned bank raid.  What makes this attemped robbery all the more curious, is that the perpetrator was a sixteen year old boy. Among Fiona’s father’s papers is the following cutting from the Liverpool Echo and Evening Express from 3 April 1959.  As this item is showing its age, we have reproduced the wording alongside an image of the cutting itself…

Four months after stealing revolvers and amunition in order to carry out a bank robbery, a 16-year-old boy attempted to carry out his plan and carried a kit bag containing two loaded revolvers and other articles alleged Detective Sergeant A Clerk (prosecuting) at Liverpool Juvenile Court to-day. The Boy was remanded in custody, to April 10, accused of breaking into the shop of W Richards (Liverpool) Ltd., Moorfields, and stealing three revolvers and amunition total value £36, on December 26 last.

He was also accused of attempting to break into a Bank in Brownlow Hill with intent to steal yesterday.  Sergeant Clerk said that at three o’clock yesterday morning it was discovered that an attempt had been made to enter Martins Bank in Brownlow Hill.

Entry had been forced into adjoining premises and slates removed from the roof of the bank.  Sergeant Clerk said that the person must have been disturbed when attempting to get into the bank, because a kitbag was found in an entry behind the bank.

In the bag were two loaded revolvers, cords, blindfolds, pliers, a hatchet and a screwdriver.  Following inquiries, the boy was seen at his home last night by Detective Sergeant F Jones and Detective J Dolan.  At Prescot Street Police Station the boy said: “I planned to do the bank, but had to do the shop first so as I’d have the guns when doing the bank”.  Later, said Sergeant clerk, the boy made a statement in which he admitted that he watched the arrival and departure of the bank staff and that he intended to hold them up with the revolvers and use the blindfolds.

Fiona recalls her father talking about the attempted raid, and how he and the Branch Manager Ken Tarbuck actually climbed onto the roof of the Bank to try and replace the disturbed slates – they were questioned by a passing policeman, who thought ANOTHER break-in was under way!

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Making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear…

On 9 December 1959, the Architect and Building News publishes a feature focussing on the conversion of the former “Squaredeals” shop at 164 Brownlow Hill within the precincts of Liverpool university into a Branch of Martins Bank. As was mentioned in the above article from Martins Bank Magazine, the Architect and Premises Department really do “contrive a gem from somewhat unpromising material”.

 

When compared to the lavish builds, rebuilds and fitting out of many of the Bank’s new Branches in the 1950s and 60s, Liverpool University is definitely something of a poor relation. Cheap materials abound and corners are cut, at what is originally intended to be temporary premises, but which are in use for EIGHT years before this part of the University is re-developed. Despite this, the overall look is very good which belies the practical and economic approach of this utility Branch.

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“The bank was designed to have maxi­mum appeal to university students who are its main clientele. Above, the completed bank within a terrace of shops. Below, the clerks' and tellers' spaces. The site is a small shop in old  terraced property centrally situated within the precinct of Liverpool University. The whole premises are smaller than some manager's rooms in more august branches.

 

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The Banking Hall and Manager’s Office beyond

Design

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The clients wished to form a new temporary branch with its architec­tural treatment having the maximum appeal to university students who would be its main clientele.

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It is a temporary branch with an anticipated life of, say, five to ten years; this allowed a more uninhibited approach than is usual in bank design, and determined the maximum use of in­expensive, non-permanent materials.

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Gay, colourful atmosphere was required so that the premises would be .inviting and less formal and awe-inspiring than the more usual stolid character of most branch banks.

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Extremely limited space determined maximum lightness of form, the least amount of visual restriction and the careful selection and positioning of materials to give directional emphasis to increase the apparent size of the bank, e.g., floor to ceiling mirrors at end of counter to "double" its length, corrugating the counter front to give increased surface area, slotted ceiling, diaper-patterned ceiling lighting, etc., marked colour contrasts avoided in internal decorations.

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General plan of the ground floor

The Manager’s Office – the wall finish is Lionide and the ceiling

rilled insulation board. Floors are sheet linoleum

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Accommodation

The accommodation provided in­cludes the banking hall and manager's room on the ground floor, staff room and toilets on the first floor and storage space on the second floor.

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Construction

The premises are very old and, although in a dilapidated condition, had only minor structural defects. Replacement of the existing shop by the new frontage to the ground floor involved no major alterations to the structure. A limited contract period of only a few weeks, and the deplorable condition of existing building with uneven walls and ceil­ings, determined that inside finishes should be of dry construction, and therefore walls and ceilings were battened out and faced with wall boards, faced with small-scale pattern washable plastics sheeting. All joinery —except counter top—is in painted softwood for economy.

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Behind the counter - The Clerks and Tellers’ spaces

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Images © Architect and Building News and successors - 9 December 1959 to date

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1958 to 1962 Mr A K Tarbuck Manager MBM-Su67P60.jpg

1958 Mr N P Fobister MBM-Au58P36.jpg

1958 Mr W T Green MBM-Au58P36.jpg

BW Logo

BW Logo

BW Logo

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Mr A K Tarbuck

Manager

1958 to 1962

Mr N P Fobister

On the Staff

1958

Mr W T Green

Branch Second

1958

 

 

 

 

LLOYDS BANK LIMITED

MARTINS BANK LIMITED

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MIDLAND BANK LIMITED

 

 

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Title:

Type:

Address:

Index Number and District:

Hours:

 

Telephone:

Services:

Manager:

Martins Bank Limited 11-81-80 Liverpool University

Full Branch

164 Brownlow Hill Liverpool 4

90 Liverpool

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

051 709 1796/2877

Night Safe

A K Tarbuck Manager

1 May 1958

1966

Opened by Martins Bank Limited

Closed and moved to temporary premises

at 45 Bedford Street North

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